International Faculty hub established at Chula to attract young global talent in post-COVID era

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Inaugural Gifted Scholars at Chulalongkorn School of Integrated Innovation

Chulalongkorn School of Integrated Innovation (ScII) has established a post-COVID International Faculty Hub comprising of promising global scholars who have demonstrated an aptitude for solving novel problems creatively.

The School has already brought on board three international faculty members, one each from North America, Europe, and Asia, and it is actively seeking to induct a second cohort in 2022. Known as “Global Innovator Faculty Towards Early-Career Development (GIFTED) Faculty Scholars” awards, these will be prestigious global appointments that will attract top talent from around the world and bring the most recent knowledge from their respective fields,” says Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, Executive Director of ScII.

“Each year, we will welcome top scholars from around the globe, and this facility will benefit Thailand’s emergence as a magnet for innovative technology experts,” said Prof. Worsak.

The GIFTED program also celebrates the second century of Chulalongkorn University, Thailand’s premier and most prestigious university. As Prof. Worsak commented, “It only makes sense that ScII, Chulalongkorn University’s newest faculty, should pilot this program.”

Chulalongkorn is pioneering the concept by combining young, energetic rising stars with local experts with years of experience for the benefit of international students. Eventually, the School will serve as a global hub for incubating startups for economic and societal benefits in the region.

The process of selecting the 2021 GIFTED scholars proved demanding because the pool of candidates showed considerable diversity in their expertise along with excellent academic credentials, Professor Worsak added.

The initial GIFTED Faculty cohort is made up of three scholars: Dr. Yon Jung Choi from South Korea, Dr Lisa Kenney from the United States, and Dr. Christopher Dixon from the United Kingdom. The three appointees were chosen from a pool of over 80 applicants representing 24 countries on all continents.

Following the recruitment of three faculty members in July 2021, the University has now issued a second call for exceptional GIFTED Faculty. Prof. Worsak said, “We need entrepreneurs, technologists, and people who are creative and love the challenges of our disruptive world. Recently minted PhDs who are creative problem solvers are the best candidates.”

GIFTED will be announced each year and will be specifically designed to attract the most talented and ambitious students whose academic track record demonstrates the potential to have a significant impact on today’s world.

Dr. Yon Jung Choi, who comes to ScII after a stint as a policy fellow at the Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy at George Mason University, describes innovation as a “powerful tool to bring forth genuine changes in society by challenging pre-developed perceptions and boundaries.”

Excited at the GIFTED Scholar Award, she adds: “My passion is to invigorate students to achieve skills, knowledge, and mindsets to become innovators across fields in business, government, and civil society.” Her recent publications include topics in ethics in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, collaborative governance for pandemic management, and social innovation for community development.

“I am eager to see Thailand succeed as a leader in innovation,” remarked Dr. Lisa Kenney, who was earlier a Fulbright Fellow at Chulalongkorn University and has also served as a Smart Mobility Advisor with the Greater Buffalo Niagara Region Transportation Council. “I am excited by the opportunity to train the next generation and help make Chulalongkorn University a global leader in innovation education and applied research,” she added.

“The GIFTED program aligns with my approach to teaching, which is to provide students with real-world experience and theoretical foundations through a transdisciplinary lens because modern challenges do not exist in silos, nor do their solutions.”

Dr. Christopher Dixon, who studied Chemical Engineering in the UK, found his calling in process simulation, optimization, and machine learning. “I am excited to work at ScII on new and exciting projects and train the next generation to develop innovative ideas that will make an impact globally,” Chris said.

The theme for this year’s call is “Digital Economy, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Health and Wellbeing Innovation.” The 2022 cohort of GIFTED Faculty Members will receive a one-time grant of 1 million baht.