University of Hong Kong names Xiang Zhang as new leader

Xiang Zhang, the Ernest Kuh Endowed Chair Professor of Engineering at UC Berkeley, has been named the 16th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the oldest institute of higher education in the territory and among the most prestigious universities in Asia.

Xiang ZhangXiang Zhang after his selection as the next vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong. (Photo courtesy HKU)The five-year appointment was announced Friday by the University of Hong Kong, marking the end of an international search for a successor to the university’s current president, Peter Mathieson, who ends his tenure in January 2018.

 “Professor Zhang’s excellent academic standing and leadership, his integrity, his vision, the demonstration of his management capabilities, and the effectiveness of his interpersonal and communications skills make him a highly qualified candidate meeting the criteria adopted by the council,” said Arthur Li, chairman of the HKU Council and of the university’s selection committee when announcing Zhang’s appointment. “I am confident that Professor Zhang will lead the university to achieve the next level of excellence as Asia’s global university.”

An esteemed professor of mechanical engineering at Berkeley, Zhang is considered a leading pioneer in the fields of nanophotonics, nanoengineering and metamaterials, capturing the general public’s imagination by demonstrating the composite materials’ future potential in cloaking applications.

A prolific scientist, Zhang has published hundreds of papers in peer-reviewed journals. His peers in academia and science have also recognized his achievements by electing him to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering as well as the Academia Sinica (National Academy in the Republic of China). He is also a fellow of the American Physical Society, Optical Society of America, American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Society of Optical Engineering and American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Zhang earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Nanjing University in China. He studied at the University of Minnesota before coming to Berkeley, where he earned his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering in 1996. Zhang joined Pennsylvania State University and UCLA as assistant and associate professor, respectively, before returning to Berkeley in 2004 as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Among the positions he holds are director of the National Science Foundation Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at UC Berkeley, and senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Materials Sciences Division, where he served as director from 2014 to 2016.

Zhang’s start date at HKU has not yet been announced.