A renewed senior leadership team at NUS

NUS has announced changes to its senior leadership team with three new appointments: Professor Aaron Thean as Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, Professor Chen Tsuhan as Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise) and Professor Liu Bin as Deputy President (Research and Technology).

Together with NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye and Deputy President (Administration) Mr Clarence Ti, they represent a renewed senior leadership team that seeks to further propel NUS as a leading global university shaping the future.

The changes follow the announcement of the impending departure of Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua for the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Prof Ho, who has oversight of academic, research and enterprise matters at NUS in his current role, will become NTU’s fifth President from 24 April 2023

The latest changes to the senior leadership team at NUS take effect from 1 April 2023. Prof Ho, who will leave NUS on 23 April 2023, will be working with the senior leadership team on a smooth transition before his departure.

“With these new appointments, NUS is poised to move forward with a robust and dynamic senior leadership team that will spearhead the University’s continued commitment to academic and research excellence, innovation and enterprise, and solid administration and governance,” said Prof Tan.

“Together, we look forward to building on the University’s legacy of empowering our students, faculty, staff, and partners to shape the future of our country and region.”

New names helming education, innovation and enterprise & research and technology

Taking NUS education to greater heights

Leading the slate of changes in the senior leadership team is Prof Aaron Thean’s appointment as the University’s new Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost, effective 1 April 2023. Prof Thean, the incumbent Dean of the NUS College of Design and Engineering (CDE), assumes leadership of academic matters in NUS.

A distinguished scientist, technologist, and inventor in the field of microelectronics, Prof Thean has received multiple accolades in recognition of his research excellence, including the 2014 Compound Semiconductor Industry Innovation Award for his research group’s breakthrough work in III-V finFETs and the 2001 Gregory Stillman Semiconductor Research Award for his PhD work. In 2016, he was also awarded the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Returning Singaporean Scientist Award. At NUS, he was the founding Director of the NUS-Applied Materials Corporate Laboratory, and the NRF Mid-Sized Centre for Singapore Next-Generation Micro-Electronics in 2019.

Prof Thean’s body of work in research and innovation is complemented by extensive industry experience, spanning two decades, in the semiconductor industry, where he worked at major tech companies including IBM, Qualcomm and IMEC. Known for his translational research in cutting-edge semiconductor technologies, he holds more than 50 US patents and has published extensively in the areas of Micro- and Nano- Electronics.

As CDE Dean, Prof Thean has overseen innovative interdisciplinary educational initiatives that offer students a broad intellectual foundation augmented by greater industrial relevance.

“Aaron’s appointment attests to his dedication as a leader who continually seeks to enhance the ways in which we teach and learn. With his extensive academic and industrial experience, as well as inventive spirit, he is well-positioned to lead the University’s academic affairs and forge a new chapter of academic excellence and innovation at NUS,” said Prof Tan.

Reflecting on his appointment, Prof Thean said, “Prof Ho Teck Hua is an exceptional and passionate leader who has made a real difference in setting the University apart in the global higher education arena – our faculty, researchers and students today are among the best in Singapore and the world.

I’m honoured to have the opportunity to build on Teck’s legacy and look forward to working with NUS President Prof Tan Eng Chye, my colleagues, students, our industry, government, and academic partners to take the NUS educational experience to greater heights. I will miss Teck, as a mentor and colleague, at NUS. I wish him the very best for his journey ahead and I look forward to future opportunities for collaborations.”

With Prof Thean’s appointment, CDE Deputy Dean Professor Teo Kie Leong will assume the position of Acting Dean of the college, while the University convenes a search for a new dean.

Leading innovation and enterprise

Prof Chen Tsuhan will assume the role of Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise) from 1 April 2023. Prof Chen was previously Deputy President (Research & Technology) at NUS, a role he took on in June 2018.

The Chief Scientist of AI Singapore, Prof Chen is a highly respected artificial intelligence expert specialising in pattern recognition, computer vision and machine learning. He has been instrumental in nurturing the University’s research footprint in such critical fields as materials research, health innovation, and sustainability and urban solutions.

Prof Chen has driven efforts at strategising NUS research, mentoring researchers, and increasing NUS’ competitive research funding, which has risen by about 30 per cent over five years. A strong proponent of collaborative research, he also launched the Reimagine Research Initiative in 2021. The initiative, which provides seed funding for interdisciplinary project ideas, seeks to encourage researchers to work across diverse fields of expertise to find solutions to the most pressing problems of our time.

“Tsuhan has been instrumental in pioneering initiatives that champion innovation and research excellence. With his wealth of experience in collaborative research and strong relationships with industry partners, I am confident that his leadership and vision will elevate our efforts to remain at the forefront of the innovation and enterprise ecosystem in Singapore and the region,” said Prof Tan.

“I’m honoured to take on this important role of leading innovation and enterprise in NUS. We were among the first universities in the world to create a formal entrepreneurship education programme for undergraduates, in addition to many other exciting innovations. We’ve also helped to nurture some of Asia’s biggest start-up founders from within the university community.

I look forward to working with innovative and entrepreneurial-minded faculty, researchers, students, staff and partners to invigorate the spirit of innovation and enterprise amongst our brightest minds in Singapore and around the world,” said Prof Chen.

As Deputy President (Innovation and Enterprise), Prof Chen will oversee the Innovation and Enterprise cluster or NUS Enterprise, which comprises the NUS Enterprise Academy (including the NUS Overseas Colleges programme); local and overseas ecosystem builder programmes (including the Graduate Research Innovation Programme, and BLOCK71); as well as technology transfer, translation and commercialisation in the University.

Building world-leading peaks of research excellence

Internationally acclaimed researcher Prof Liu Bin will become Deputy President (Research and Technology) from 1 April 2023.

An NUS Distinguished Professor and the University’s highest-ranking woman leader, Prof Liu is a top researcher in the field of functional materials, and internationally recognised for her contributions to the applications of organic nanomaterials in biomedical, environmental and energy research. She is the recipient of multiple accolades, including the President’s Technology Award (2016) and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Centenary Prize (2021), and ranks among the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds and the top 1 per cent Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate, with over 450 publications and 30 patents to her name. She is an international member of the US National Academy of Engineering.

Prof Liu joined NUS as Assistant Professor in 2005. Promoted to full professorship in 2016, she was subsequently appointed Vice President (Research and Technology) from 2019 to 2021. Amongst Prof Liu’s notable work at NUS is the development of vibrant innovation clusters across colleges, faculties and schools, including the NUS Sustainability Cluster, as well as the strengthening of efforts to build up and develop the University’s talent pool.

“I am honoured to take on this new role in Singapore’s top research and innovation university. Research at NUS is multi-faceted, dynamic, and – most importantly – impactful. I look forward to working with our talented researchers and partners to build peaks of research excellence that are truly world-leading for the University, and produce solutions that bring lasting impact to Singapore and the world,” said Prof Liu.

“Prof Liu’s outstanding contributions to research and innovation, as well as her passion for nurturing the next generation of research leaders, will pave the way for NUS to continually advance the frontiers of knowledge and social impact,” said Prof Tan.

Changes in management responsibilities

The University concurrently announced adjustments made to the roles of two members of NUS management effective from 1 April 2023:

Professor Chee Yeow Meng, currently NUS Vice Provost (Technology-Enhanced and Experiential Learning) and Director of the NUS Overseas Colleges programme will become Vice President (Innovation & Enterprise). In this role, he will relinquish all duties in the Office of the Senior Deputy President and Provost and focus on assisting Prof Chen in the management of the Innovation & Enterprise cluster, while overseeing the NUS Enterprise Academy.

Professor Peter Ho, who is currently Vice Provost (Undergraduate Education) at NUS, will take on the additional responsibility for technology-enhanced and experiential learning. As Vice Provost (Undergraduate Studies & Technology-Enhanced Learning), Prof Ho will assist Prof Thean in the University’s efforts to enhance teaching and learning with the innovative use of technology.