UIC business professor honored with Chinese government foreign expert award

J. Christopher Westland, professor of information and decision sciences in the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration, has received 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 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 information.

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

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

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. He is an expert in electronic commerce, innovation strategy, and technology and innovation management and has consulted for corporations including IBM and Motorola. His work has been published in top journals such as Information and Management, International 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, designed to attract scholars and entrepreneurs over the next 10 years to improve research and innovation.

UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners in hundreds of programs to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.

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