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DKU awards tenure and promotions to faculty members

Duke Kunshan University has announced a series of tenure awards and promotions in rank for professors, in recognition of their outstanding contributions to research and education.

The newly tenured and promoted faculty are Professor of Materials Science Kwang Leong Choy, Associate Professor of Applied Economics Jingbo Cui, Associate Professor of Mathematics Konstantinos Efstathiou, Professor of Physics Kai Huang, Associate Professor of Environmental Science Binbin Li, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies and Language Jinhua Li, and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Paul Weng.

“Adding to our tenured faculty is a significant step in shaping the future of DKU, fulfilling its mission, and advancing its broader impact,” said Scott MacEachern, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “I am grateful for everyone’s continued contributions to DKU and look forward to a year of productivity and success ahead.”

The decision by the Duke Kunshan University Board of Trustees to confer these tenure awards and promotions on the faculty was based on the recommendation of the university’s Appointment, Promotion and Tenure Committee. Three main criteria determine the awarding of tenure at Duke Kunshan: recipients must have produced work widely perceived among peers to be outstanding, be highly regarded for their teaching abilities, and have made significant contributions to the university community.

Newly Tenured Faculty

Kwang Leong Choy, Professor of Materials Science

Kwang Leong Choy’s research focuses on the development of high-performance nanostructured and nanocomposite materials based on super thin/thin/thick films using novel and advanced materials synthesis methods for solar cells, energy storage, optoelectronics, environment, engineering, healthcare, and biomedical applications. Her pioneering research on the innovative, eco-friendly and cost-effective non-vacuum Chemical Vapour Deposition platform technology has led to patents, technology translation and exploitation by industrial companies as well as recognition awards, including the Kroll Medal & Prize (2020) and Grunfeld Memorial Award and Medal (1999) by The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IoM3). She has led and participated in many national, European and international research projects with a large consortium of academia and industries.

Choy has a D.Phil. in materials science from the University of Oxford and a D.Sc. in materials from the University of Nottingham. Before joining Duke Kunshan, she was the founding director of the Institute for Materials Discovery and professor of materials discovery at University College London (UCL). She was also the course director of the postgraduate taught programme (MSc) in advanced materials science at UCL.

She served as a chairperson in materials and research director of the University Innovation Centre at the University of Nottingham, and as a reader at Imperial College London. Choy also held the Violette and Glasstone Research Fellowship at the University of Oxford. She received teaching awards from the University of Nottingham and University College London. She was awarded Fellow of The Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining (FIM) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in 2007 and 2010, respectively.

Jingbo Cui, Associate Professor of Applied Economics

Jingbo Cui’s research centers on environmental economics, economics of innovation, and international trade. His research has appeared in top academic journals in the fields of environmental and resource economics, agricultural economics and energy economics.

Recent projects include economic analysis of climate change, welfare impacts of biofuel policies, and effects of environmental policies on environmental innovation. His current projects on climate change and low-carbon innovation have received funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Before joining Duke Kunshan, he held positions as a Chu-Tian junior scholar at the Hubei Provincial Department of Education, an associate professor at Wuhan University’s School of Economics and Management, and a postdoctoral research associate and visiting scholar at Iowa State University. He has also served as the referee for leading journals in environmental economics, such as the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

Cui has a B.S. in economics and mathematics from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, an M.Sc. in economics from Wuhan University and a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.

Konstantinos Efstathiou, Associate Professor of Mathematics

His research interests are in the general areas of dynamical systems and mathematical physics, with the main focus being the geometry of integrable Hamiltonian systems and the dynamics of coupled oscillator networks. He has published a monograph on integrable Hamiltonian systems.

Over a 14-year teaching career, he has taught mathematics and physics courses at introductory and advanced levels and has received a Best Teacher award for his Calculus for Chemistry course.

Efstathiou has a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from the University of Athens, Greece, and a Ph.D. (highest distinction) in physics from the Université du Littoral Côte d’Opale, France. He also has an Undergraduate Teaching Qualification. Before joining Duke Kunshan, he was an assistant professor at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. In 2012 and 2013, he was a lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, where he also served as the acting department head.

Kai Huang, Professor of Physics

Kai Huang’s research interest is in understanding, predicting and eventually controlling the collective behavior of sand grains (i.e., granular materials) using lab experiments and computer simulations, in order to shed light on widespread applications such as space exploration, powder-based additive manufacturing (3D printing), landslide and earthquake triggering, dune migration and transport. He is also interested in the acoustic design of opera theatres.

Huang has a B.Sc. in electronic engineering and a Ph.D. in physical acoustics from Nanjing University. He also holds a Habilitation in physics, a scientific and pedagogic qualification for professors in Germany.

Before joining Duke Kunshan, he worked at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, where he taught physics courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels and built a research group. He completed postdoctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization.

Binbin Li, Associate Professor of Environmental Science

Binbin Li focuses on the synergy between biodiversity conservation and sustainable development under climate change. Her research covers conservation planning to promote synergetic solutions to climate change mitigation and human health, the One Health framework, endangered and endemic species conservation in China, such as giant pandas, sustainable infrastructure building in the Belt and Road Initiative, and bird collisions in urban environment. She promotes the use of innovative technology, market tools, citizen science, and policies to solve conservation problems and assist sustainable local community development.

She has been awarded The Explorers Club 50 (EC50). She is co-chair of the IUCN WCPA-protected planet specialist group and serves on the IUCN Species Survival Commission, World Commission on Protected Areas, and the Commission on Prevention of Viral Spillover convened by Lancet and PPATS. She is the editor-in-chief of Integrative Conservation and associate editor of Frontiers of Ecology and Evolution. She also serves on the editorial board of Conservation Biology, Global Ecology and Conservation, Biodiversity Science and National Parks.

She was awarded Nature Photographer of the Year in the Chinese National Geography China Wildlife Image and Video Competition 2022. She founded the China Anti-bird Collision Action Alliance, the largest citizen science project in China. She is also the board director of SilverLining Conservation Center, which aims to increase conservation practitioners’ storytelling capacity and change public behaviors using media instruments.

Li got her PhD in Environment from Duke University, her M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan, and her B.S. in Life Sciences with a dual degree in Economics from Peking University.

Jinhua Li, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies and Language

Jinhua Li is interested in contemporary Chinese cinema and its transnational articulations of identity, gender, and cultural politics. She is especially intrigued by how cinematic texts mediate the dynamics between the national and the transnational, the local and the global, and the mercurial dichotomies. She has taught courses in Chinese and East Asian cinemas, transnational film remakes, Chinese and East Asian literature, martial arts cinema, Chinese language, Asian American popular culture, and film studies. She has led study-abroad programs in China, Japan, and South Korea. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Asian Studies Development Program Alumni Chapter since 2022. She is an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of Chinese for Academic and Occupational Purposes since 2021. 

Li has a B.A. in English, an M.A. in English Literature from Beijing Foreign Studies University, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Purdue University. Prior to joining Duke Kunshan, Jinhua Li was a Full Professor of Chinese Studies and Language and Chair of the Interdisciplinary/International Studies Program at the University of North Carolina Asheville. 

Paul Weng, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Paul Weng’s main research is artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, notably on adaptive control (reinforcement learning, Markov decision process), multi-objective optimization (compromise programming, fair optimization), and preference handling (representation, elicitation, and learning).

Before joining academia, he was a financial quantitative analyst in London, UK. As a researcher, he regularly publishes in top AI and machine learning venues (e.g., IJCAI, AAAI, ICML). He has served as an area chair at AAAI and ECAI. Several of his papers received the best paper award (e.g., MIWAI, ALA). His work has been funded both by public funding agencies, such as NSFC and Shanghai NSF, and private companies, including Yahoo and Netease.

Before joining Duke Kunshan, he was an associate professor at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute. He was also a regular or visiting faculty member of many universities (Sorbonne University, Carnegie Mellon University, Sun Yat-sen University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and University of Nottingham Ningbo, China). Weng received a French engineering degree in statistics from ENSAI (National School of Statistics and Information Analysis), Bruz, France. He has a M.S. and Ph.D. in AI from Sorbonne University, Paris, France.

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