Professor Gemai Chen has been appointed head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University.

Professor Chen’s previous appointment was at the University of Calgary, Canada, which was ranked the country’s top university by the QS and Times Higher Education rankings in 2016, and where he will continue to supervise graduate students.

Professor Chen completed his PhD degree in statistics at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, in 1991 with a thesis that anticipated the current big data revolution:

“Prior studies had looked at a finite number of variables, but we considered the possibility that, ‘If the data resources available become infinite, what happens?’”, said Professor Chen (pictured above).

His research interests include modelling of environmental changes and financial and economic model building and forecasting, and he is keen to collaborate with colleagues from other academic departments.

He is also interested in working with the many industries represented in Suzhou and in contributing to China’s development by helping to ensure the continued safety of its ever-expanding high-speed rail network.

Regarding the current status and projected future of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Professor Chen said:

“Like our colleagues in the Language Centre, our department plays a fundamentally important role at this University. Of the 3,500 new students the University admits each year, 3,300 take at least one module with us. We are providing the students with an essential grounding for their later studies – so many subjects require calculus and linear algebra, for example.

“Biology, chemistry, physics, computer science, design, social studies, all require mathematics. Even linguistics is today a fairly computer-intensive area: people who know about computer science and statistical learning can publish things that traditional research couldn’t have dreamed of.

“Right now there is a wonderful opportunity for our department to help the University move forward. Considering the 11 year history of the Department this is, perhaps, one of the key times, especially given the big societal movements favouring mathematical sciences.”

For more information about the Department of Mathematical Sciences at XJTLU, visit its official webpage.

story by Danny Abbasi; photo by Weiqian Zhang

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