New leaders to take Environmental Research Center to ‘next level’

A new leadership team is in place to take Duke Kunshan University’s Environmental Research Center (ERC) to the “next level”.

Dr. Kwang Leong Choy, a professor of materials science, works at the forefront of eco-innovation, specializing in advanced materials for sustainability, while Dr. Jingbo Cui, an associate professor of applied economics, delivers research advancing our understanding of the economics of climate risk and other key environmental issues.

Launched in July 2016, the mission of the ERC is to tackle the planet’s most pressing environmental challenges by operating as an interdisciplinary research hub focused on biodiversity, conservation, and environmental economics, governance, science and history. It also strives to develop student talent as the next generation of environmental leaders.

Dr. Xin Li, associate vice chancellor for graduate studies and research, said the acting co-directors are collaborating with faculty to expand educational and research activities relating to the environment, climate and sustainability.

“They are more than capable of taking the ERC to the next level and I look forward to seeing the center grow and record even greater accomplishments,” he added.

Kwang Leong Choy

Choy’s research on developing high-performance nanostructured and nanocomposite materials has underpinned technological innovations in solar cells, energy storage, optoelectronics, healthcare and biomedicine, to name a few.

An award-winning professor with more than 300 published papers, four books and 20 patents to her name, Choy joined DKU last year after holding a series of posts in the United Kingdom, including professor of materials discovery at University College London where she was also the founding director of the Institute for Materials Discovery.

Choy’s numerous teaching and research awards include the Grunfeld Medal Prize and Kroll Medal & Prize from the Institute of Materials, Mining and Minerals in the U.K., and the award of excellence from the Association of American Publishers for her published work.

A holder of various academic posts and journal editorial roles as well as a fellow of both the Institute of Materials, Mining and Minerals and the Royal Society of Chemistry, Choy received her doctor of philosophy from the University of Oxford and doctor of science from the University of Nottingham.

“It is both an immense honor and a profound privilege to serve the Environmental Research Center,” Choy said.

“Embracing the role of acting co-director presents an unparalleled opportunity to guide our collaborative endeavors toward sustainable solutions, where dedication intertwines with innovation, shaping a better world for generations to come.”

Jingbo Cui

Cui joined DKU in 2019 as an associate professor of applied economics and has also served as interim director of graduate studies for the international Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) program.

His research focusing primarily on environmental economics, the economics of innovation and climate change has appeared in top academic journals including the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, the American Journal of Agricultural Economics, as well as top economics journals in Chinese.

More specifically, he has examined areas such as China’s great advances in science and technology, the relationship between corporate decisions and climate risk in China, and the welfare impacts of biofuel and related energy policies in the United States and China.

His research projects have been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (three awarded projects) and the Jiangsu Qinglan Project.

Before joining DKU, Cui was a Chu-Tian Junior Scholar at the Department of Education in Hubei province, and held professorships at Wuhan University and was a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University.

“I am honored and humbled to serve the role of acting co-director, working alongside a group of excellent faculty and staff who are passionate about unpacking data-based evidence in climate risks and environmental injustices, providing technological solutions to address the global climate challenges, and educating next-generation climate leaders,” Cui said.

The ERC is one of eight research centers established at Duke Kunshan over the past decade to foster interdisciplinary academic collaboration, bringing together experts from different fields, as well as students.

The others are the Global Health Research Center, Center for the Study of Contemporary China, Data Science Research Center, Institute of Applied Physical Sciences and Engineering, Zu Chongzhi Center for Mathematics and Computational Sciences, Humanities Research Center, and WHU-Duke Research Institute.

The overarching mission of the centers is to support advances across industry, health, academia and other fields that are beneficial to wider society.

Collectively, DKU’s research centers have received about 300 research grants and published more than 800 papers in top journals such as The Lancet and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

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