STEM scholar named honorary professor at Chinese university

J. Christopher Westland

J. Christopher Westland

J. Christopher Westland, professor of information and decision sciences, was appointed to the honorary position of overseas chair professor at Beihang University.

The award, funded by the Chinese government, honors top foreign academics who specialize in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Westland will receive a stipend of up to $160,000 over three years and a research budget of $700,000 to $900,000.

He will conduct studies through Beihang University’s Key Laboratory for Complex Decision Making and collaborate with colleagues at Key Laboratories in the Harbin Institute of Technology and Tsinghua University.Westland is developing “affective information” technologies that enable machines to read and convey human emotions. His research focuses on comparing affective data with more traditional survey and  interview statistics.

Westland said he is “very keen” to develop low-cost, portable ways to collect affective data streams.

“The cheaper and more portable the technology, the more it will be used,” he said.

“The ability to better read emotions, as well as to better convey them over electronic media, becomes a priority because of the central role of the state in (Chinese) television, cinema and Internet.”

Westland has been lecturing and collaborating with colleagues at many of the C9 League universities — the top nine schools in China — for the past three years. An expert in electronic commerce, innovation strategy, and technology and innovation management, he has consulted for corporations including IBM and Motorola. His work has been published in Information and ManagementInternational Journal of E-Entrepreneurship and Innovation and MIS Review.

Beihang University (formerly Beijing Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) is China’s first university of aeronautical and astronautical engineering.

The award was conferred under the Chinese government’s Thousand Foreign Experts program, established to attract scholars and entrepreneurs over the next 10 years to improve research and innovation.

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