Max Lu AO

Honorary Doctor of Science

Citation delivered by Professor Judy Raper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research & Innovation) of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of G Q Max Lu as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 12 December 2018.


Chancellor, I present Gaoqing Max Lu.

Some people leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of their passion, and this could not be more true of Professor Max Lu. A chemical engineer and nanotechnologist by training, Professor Lu has driven academic and industrial innovation in the adjacent fields of thermodynamics, nanomaterials and nanoparticles. Cemented as an international expert, he has consulted extensively to industry and government and has been a Board Member and Director on advisory and review boards such as (to name but a few) ANSTO; the CSIRO; the Australian Research Council Nanotechnology Network; the Queensland Children Medical Research Institute; the Queensland China Council, and the Ministerial Advance Queensland Expert Panel. Indeed, so outstanding have Professor Lu’s contributions been that, in 2017, he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to education, international research, and to Australia–China relations.

Max Lu’s research is widely acclaimed, and he is a Fellow of many highly esteemed professional bodies including the World Academy of Science, the Royal Society of Chemistry UK, the Australian Academy of Science, the Institution of Engineers Australia, and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. As a co-inventor, Max holds over twenty granted world-wide patents. In tandem with his technical expertise, Max has cultivated a reputation for exemplary leadership and incisive vision in the global higher education sector. In 2016, Professor Lu was appointed as the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey in his adoptive region of the United Kingdom, where he also serves as a Director on the Board of United Kingdom Research & Innovation (UKRI), and as a member on the Boards of: the UKRI’s Council for Science and Technology; the Leadership Council of the National Centre for Universities and Business; the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, the Board of Universities and the Board of National Physical Laboratory. In 2017, Max was recognised with the title of Deputy Lieutenant, County of Surrey, England in acknowledgement of his leadership and community contributions.

Notwithstanding its impressive breadth and depth, Professor Lu’s career is made all the more exceptional when it is appreciated in the light of where he began. Max graduated with a Bachelor in Metallurgical Engineering in 1983, and a Masters in Thermal Engineering in 1986, both from Northeastern University, China. In 1987 he embarked for Brisbane as an international Doctor of Philosophy student at the University of Queensland. Having exchanged the sum of his funds to Australian currency, Max found that he had only twenty dollars to last him the first week of his studies until his doctoral scholarship came in.

At the University of Queensland, Max would find, and subsequently build, his academic home of twenty years. There, he held roles as a Senior Lecturer in Chemical Engineering; Chair in Nanotechnology & Director of the Nanomaterials Centre; as a highly prestigious two-time Federation Fellow and as Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Functional Nanomaterials. At the University of Queensland, Max’s talents for engaging industry in productive partnership with academia saw him become the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Linkages) in 2008 to 2009. Between 2011 and 2012, he served as Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and from there he progressed through the roles of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and, up until 2016, the Provost and Senior Vice-President.

Alongside his service in these roles, Professor Lu has managed an incredible academic output earning him recognition as a double highly-cited researcher  a distinction awarded to those whose published work is widely and frequently cited by others in their field as testimony of the impact of their ideas. He has published over five hundred peer-reviewed articles in top academic journals  an enviable track record for even the most influential of academics. He is also much sought-after as a keynote speaker at engineering conferences around the world. Professor Lu has also proudly supervised forty-five doctoral students, who have gone on to lead industry and academia in their own right.

Max has had a long association with the University of Wollongong, visiting several times since he was a doctoral graduate and collaborating with our Australian Institute of Innovative Materials and our Institute of Superconducting and Electronic Materials. In recent years, he has been working with Professor Paul Wellings and myself as a member of the University Global Partnership Network, and was also invited to chair the review of our Global Challenges Initiative in 2017.

Chancellor, for his tremendous academic and industry contributions to chemical and advanced materials engineering and his ongoing leadership in the global community of higher education, it is a privilege and pleasure to present Professor Max Lu for a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.