An internationally renowned scholar, Professor Wei Zhao has been serving as the eighth Rector of the University of Macau (UM) since 2008. At the same time as assuming the new rectorship, he was also named the first Chair Professor of the University of Macau. Before joining the University of Macau, Professor Zhao served as the Dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the U.S., Director for the Division of Computer and Network Systems in the U.S. National Science Foundation, and Senior Associate Vice President for Research at Texas A&M University. Professor Zhao completed his undergraduate programme in physics at Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China, in 1977, and he later received his MSc and PhD degrees in Computer and Information Sciences at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1983 and 1986, respectively. During his academic career, he has also served as a faculty member at Shaanxi Normal University, Amherst College, the University of Adelaide, Texas A&M University, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Since the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Chinese students have travelled to America to work and study, but very few attained such high achievements as Professor Zhao, who served as senior research and education administrator in the U.S. comprehensive universities and as a senior official in U.S. federal government. In the Hong Kong and Macao region, he is the first Mainland Chinese to be appointed the university rector. During his time in the United States, Professor Zhao engaged actively in various activities for education and research exchange with the People's Republic of China. He was the founding chair of the U.S.-China Dragon Star Committee and Overseas Advisory Committee for the Higher Education Press (in the field of Computer Science). He was also the Associate Editor for the "China Science Bulletin" and the Visiting Professor and Honorary Professor of several universities in China. In 2005, he was awarded the Lifelong Achievement Award by the Chinese Association of Science and Technology (CAST USA). In 2007, he was honored with the Overseas Achievement Award by the Chinese Computer Federation. In Macao, Professor Zhao strived to promote Sino-Portuguese cooperation and in March 2011, he was conferred the doctorate by twelve universities in Portugal in recognition of his outstanding achievements in science and higher education.
An IEEE Fellow, Professor Zhao has made significant contributions in distributed computing, real-time systems, computer networks, and cyberspace security. His research group has been well recognized and received numerous awards and prizes including the outstanding paper award (1992) from the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems, the best paper award (1998) from the IEEE National Aerospace and Electronics Conference, an award on technology transfer from the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency in 2002, and the best paper award (2008) from the IEEE International Communication Conference. In 2007, he received the IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems Outstanding Achievement Award. Professor Zhao is the holder of two U.S. patents and has published over 300 papers in journals, conferences, and book chapters. In 2011, he was named by the Ministry of Science and Technology as the Chief Scientist of the national 973 Internet of Things Project on cyber-physical networking systems.
Professor Zhao is also an outstanding leader in academic service. He has served on editorial boards of technical journals, including the IEEE Transactions on Computers and the IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems. He is the chair for the IEEE Technical Committee of Real-Time Systems. He has chaired more than ten international conferences including the IEEE Real-Time Technology and Applications Symposia, the IEEE Real-Time Systems Symposia, and the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems. In 2012, Professor Zhao served as the General Chairman of the International "Cyber-Physical Systems Week" which hosted five international conferences in Beijing.
Professor Zhao has a successful history as an administrator in higher education and research management. While serving as the head of the Department of Computer Science between 1997 and 2001, the funding for sponsored research quadrupled and the undergraduate programme was ranked 17th in a national survey. He was also responsible for setting up the "Texas A&M Centre for Information Assurance and Security" and was appointed the founding director. The Centre was acclaimed by the U.S. National Security Agency as the Centre for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance education. During his assignment at the National Science Foundation, funding of his division increased 20%, the dwell time performance improved 24%, and the number of submitted proposals increased by 14%.
Serving as the Rector of the University of Macau, Professor Zhao is now leading the University of Macau on a new “long march” – an effort to realize UM’s grand vision to become a renowned, first-class university with excellent facilities, outstanding faculty members and to produce the best students and research results. Since his arrival in November 2008, the University has successfully established its Honours College and launched its new general education courses. The University has also initiated a pilot scheme for two Residential Colleges and is constructing a campus of 80 plus buildings with more than a U.S. $1B investment. Within this new campus, the University of Macau will become the very first in Asia that fully implements the Residential College system. To provide a unique holistic education to our students, Professor Zhao has formulated a unique and innovative "4-in-1" pedagogical model, namely disciplinary education, general education, research & internship education, and community & peer education, which will aid in accelerating the University’s progress towards achieving its long-term developmental goals.