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Press Release 06-093

UCLA's Tony F. Chan to Head Math and Physical Sciences at NSF

Researcher brings expertise in image processing, computer vision and brain mapping

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Tony F. Chan will head math and physical sciences at NSF.
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June 20, 2006

The National Science Foundation has named Dr. Tony F. Chan, Dean of Physical Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles, to be Assistant Director for Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) at NSF. In that position, Dr. Chan will guide and manage research funding totaling approximately $1 billion a year to support astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, materials science and multidisciplinary activities.

He assumes the position Oct. 1, 2006.

Since becoming Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences at UCLA in 2001, Dr. Chan has overseen six departments and several research institutes comprising more than 200 faculty, 1,700 undergraduates, and 700 graduate students. The division receives over $60 million annually in research awards. His responsibilities there included policy, planning, budget, faculty recruitment, retention and promotion, education and research programs, and fund raising.

"We are delighted that NSF can benefit from Tony's extraordinary record as a scientist and an administrator, especially at this critical time in the history of mathematics and physical sciences," said NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. "America has turned to the foundation for leadership in fundamental research and in sustaining our national competitiveness. No one is better suited to meet that challenge than Tony Chan is."

Dr. Chan's current chief research interests involve interdisciplinary mathematics in such fields as image processing and computer vision, multiscale computational methods, optimization and multilevel methods for electronics design, and computational geometry for brain mapping.

"Tony Chan is an outstanding scholar and a visionary administrator. He has greatly benefited UCLA, especially the College of Letters and Science, through his strong commitment to interdisciplinary research, involving units within the physical sciences, engineering, medicine, and the life sciences," UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale said. "Although UCLA will greatly miss his energy, enthusiasm and leadership, we wish him well in his new endeavors."

Dr. Chan has been an active member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees and Committee on Science Policy and previously served on the SIAM Council and the Committee on Human Rights. He has served on the Editorial Board Committee and Committee on Committees of the American Mathematical Society, and is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery.

Dr. Chan has also served on a number of national and professional panels, including the National Academies' National Committee on Mathematics, NSF's MPS Advisory Committee (1999-2002), the search committee for the director o NSF's Division of Mathematical Sciences (chair, 2002), the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Computation Directorate Advisory Committee (2000-2004), the NSF's Division of Mathematical Science Committee of Visitors, and the University Space Research Association's Science Council for Applied Mathematics and Computer Science. He is one of five delegates representing the United States at the General Assembly of the International Mathematics Union to be held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, this year.

He received a B.S. in engineering and an M.S. in aeronautics from Caltech in 1973, and his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University in 1978. He taught at Yale University from 1979 to 1986, and joined the Mathematics Department at UCLA in 1986. He served as Department Chair from 1997 to 2000. In that capacity, he led the proposal to establish the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics at UCLA -- the only new NSF-funded national math institute at that time, and served as its director from 2000 to 2001.

Dr. Chan has over 200 research publications, has won two best paper awards from IEEE and is one of the top 300 most-cited mathematicians in the world according to He has supervised over 25 Ph.D. students and 15 post-doctoral fellows. Besides NSF, his research is currently funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Institutes of Health.

He is also co-director of UCLA's NIH Center for Computational Biology.


Media Contacts
Phil Hampton, UCLA, 310-206-1460,
Leslie Fink, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-5365,

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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