Newly tenured faculty hailed as next generation of academic leaders

Duke Kunshan University has granted tenure to nine faculty members in recognition of their outstanding contributions as scholars and educators.

The promoted tenure-track professors are Sze Chai Kwok, Floyd Beckford, Benjamin Bacon, Linfeng Huang, Qian Long, Ming Li, Robin Rodd and Ming-Chun Huang, while Jianbo Yue is awarded the status as a new appointment.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Scott MacEachern said he is very happy to recognize another group of newly tenured faculty members.

“Their research and teaching spans the range of disciplines and academic fields offered in the DKU curriculum, and their accomplishments make all of us proud,” he said.

“In the future, these are the faculty who will step into new academic leadership roles at the university.”

Duke Kunshan University Board of Trustees conferred tenure on the recipients for the 2021-22 academic year following the recommendations of MacEachern and DKU’s Appointment, Promotion and Tenure (APT) Committee. Last year, five faculty members were granted tenure.

Tenure at Duke Kunshan — an appointments system that helps to protect academic freedom — is reserved for those who have served as highly effective teachers, produced work widely perceived among peers to be outstanding and made significant contributions to the university community.

The new tenure holders are:

Sze Chai Kwok, associate professor of cognitive neuroscience

Kwok’s research and teaching interests cover neuroscience, behavior and psychology. As head of the Laboratory of Phylo-Cognition, his team studies the neural bases of episodic memory, metacognition and related higher cognitive processes in the primate species.

An author of 40 academic papers, he is the recipient of the Shanghai Pujiang Talent Program Award (2016) and Young IBRO Regions Connecting Award (2020).

He serves as handling editor for the journals Cognitive Processing (Springer) and Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

Kwok has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Hong Kong and a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Oxford. Before joining Duke Kunshan in 2020, he was associate professor at East China Normal University and held a scholar-in-residence adjunct position at NYU Shanghai.

Floyd Beckford, professor of chemistry

Beckford’s research focuses on medicinal inorganic chemistry, in particular the potential use of transition metal compounds as agents in anti-cancer, antibacterial and anti-diabetic chemotherapy.

His teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include inorganic and general chemistry.

Beckford has a B.Sc. (Hons) in chemistry and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Texas A&M University. Before joining Duke Kunshan, he was the Van Daniel Endowed Chair in Chemistry at the University of Virginia’s College, Wise, and previously held faculty positions at Lyon College, Arkansas, and the University of Toledo, Ohio. He was a Fulbright-University of Turku (Finland) Scholar in 2018 and 2019.

Benjamin Bacon, associate professor of media and arts

A hybrid medium artist and musician creating work at the intersection of sound art, computational design, networked systems, and mechanical life installation and sculpture, Bacon’s work has featured in exhibitions across the world.

Most recently his mechanical life and artificial intelligence (AI) sculpture “PROBE001” was put on permanent display at the UNArt Center, Shanghai.

The founder of the Black Eyeliner music events in Beijing and Voltage Divider live experimental performances in Shanghai, he has performed under the stage name SoundSpade and with his band Dies Irae !US.

Bacon has an M.F.A. from Parsons School of Design in design + technology and a B.A. in cinema studies from the University of Minnesota. He previously held professorships at Parsons School of Design, New York University Shanghai and the Shanghai Institute of Visual Art.

Linfeng Huang, associate professor of biology

Huang is passionate about advancing understanding of ribonucleic acid (RNA) biology in order to develop powerful RNA-based biotechnology and therapeutics.

He has made highly significant contributions to the RNA interference (RNAi) field, including inventing prokaryotic small interfering RNA (siRNA) technology, the world’s first cell-based method for siRNA production (2013).

At Duke Kunshan, his teaching interests include microbiology, genetics, cell biology and molecular biology.

His research has been published in mBio, Science Advances, Biotechnology and Bioengineering and BBRC, among others.

Huang has a B.Sc. from the College of Biological Sciences, China Agricultural University, Beijing, and a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia, U.K. He completed his postdoctoral training at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and was an associate professor at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, City University of Hong Kong.

Qian Long, associate professor of global health

Long’s research interests and experience center on health equity in relation to the development of health systems, with a focus in that field on financing and services organization and delivery.

She specializes in maternal and child health, tuberculosis control and non-communicable diseases management in poor areas and among vulnerable groups in China and other low- and middle-income countries. Prior to joining Duke Kunshan University, she was based in Geneva for over two years working in the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and undertook postdoctoral training at the Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University and Duke Kunshan University.

Ming Li, associate professor of electronical and computer engineering

With more than 80 published papers, Li’s research interests cover speech processing and multimodal behavior signal analysis with applications to human-centered behavioral informatics, notably in health, education and security.

Works he has co-authored with colleagues have won awards at the Body Computing Slam Contest 2009, IEEE DCOSS 2009, Interspeech 2011 Speaker State Challenge, Interspeech 2012 Speaker Trait Challenge and ISCSLP 2014 Best Paper Award. He received an IBM faculty award in 2016. He is also an electrical and computer engineering research scholar at Duke University.

Li has a B.Sc. in communication engineering from Nanjing University; an M.Sc. in signal processing from the Institute of Acoustics, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory, which he joined on a provost fellowship in 2008.

Robin Rodd, associate professor of anthropology

Rodd’s current research is at the interface of critical theory, Latin American studies and anthropology. His work explores political memory and the symbolic bases of citizenship, democracy and dictatorship in Latin America.

At Duke Kunshan, his teaching interests span medical and political anthropology, Latin American cultures and politics, migration and citizenship studies and critical theory.

His articles have appeared in anthropology and politics journals including Critique of Anthropology, Anthropology of Consciousness, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Journal of Latin American Religion, Democratic Theory and Citizenship Studies.

Rodd has a B.A. (Hons) in history from the University of Western Australia, a B.A. in Spanish from Edith Cowan University and a Ph.D. with distinction in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Western Australia. Before joining Duke Kunshan, Rodd taught anthropology at James Cook University, Australia.

Ming-Chun Huang, associate professor of data and computational sciences

The internet of things (IoT), smart health, machine learning and informatics feature among Huang’s research interests.

At Duke Kunshan he teaches topics such as computer organization and programming, and introduction to operating systems.

He has a successful record of conducting interdisciplinary research projects with researchers from distinct areas, such as biomedical engineering and medicine.

His research has led to advances in knowledge across innovative IoT sensing technology, advanced AI analytics methodology, optimized clinical decision-making, and just-in-time risk assessment.

Huang has a B.Sc. in electrical engineering from Tsing Hua University, Taiwan, an M.Sc. in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Before joining Duke Kunshan, he was an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University and director of the Mobile Health Laboratory and the Sensing and Interaction Laboratory.

Jianbo Yue, professor of biology

Yue’s research focuses on cell signaling related to autophagy, endosomal trafficking, metastasis, anti-cancer immunity, Ca2+ and reactive oxygen species (ROS). His research group established a high-content drug screening platform, and identified and/or synthesized many potent and specific modulators of autophagy or/and endosomal trafficking. His group also established both cell and animal models to evaluate the ability of these compounds to modulate viral infection, tumor metastasis and anti-cancer immunity.

At DKU he teaches experimental methods in functional genomics and integrated biology.

Jianbo graduated from Sichuan University with a B.Sc. in biochemistry, Peking University with an M.Sc. in genetics and Pennsylvania State University with a Ph.D. degree in pharmacology. After postdoc training at Stanford University, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Hong Kong before joining the City University of Hong Kong as an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

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