Hong Kong Baptist University Ranking
Wing-Hong Chan is Professor of the Department of Chemistry at the Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong SAR, China. Beloved by his students, he is not only a renown scientist, but also a passionate lecturer.
Jaslyn Tan spoke with him for ChemViews magazine about his career, what excites him about chemistry, how chemistry education can best be supported around the world, and how chemistry can contribute towards a sustainable planet.
Professor Chan, looking at the IYC 2011 event at your university where you demonstrated the "Ignition of Hydrogen" and inspired a full-house of students (see picture), did you always want to teach?
I never considered teaching as my career aspiration when I was a chemistry student. In 1975, I received a first class honors degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and was ranked number one academically in the graduating class of about 50 students. Being the first in the class – although I grew up in a relatively poor family – I felt obliged to go overseas for a higher degree.
At the time, graduate education was essentially in its infancy in Hong Kong. After serving as a high school teacher for a year, I accepted a graduate studentship offer from the University of Alberta in Canada. The offer came together with a generous teaching assistantship, which was not only sufficient for my daily expenditure, but also allowed me to send back 100 Canadian dollars each month to Hong Kong to support my family.
Where did you get your PhD and how did you like that time?
Lacking of any chemical research practical training in my undergraduate degree, I did not progress well in my initial graduate work relating to natural products synthesis. I remember vividly, in the first ten months, the only achievement of my research in the organic research laboratory was cleaning the glassware.
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