$1 million gift builds support for UCLA summer research program at Peking University

February 27, 2020


A UCLA program that enables students to conduct research in science and engineering at Peking University has received a $1 million gift from Gene and Sharon Chang.

Half of that total will go directly to fund scholarships for UCLA students attending the PKU–UCLA Joint Research Institute’s summer research program. Because of the scholarship component, the gift triggered an additional $250,000 contribution for scholarship support from the UCLA Chancellor’s Centennial Scholarships Matching Fund. The other half of the Changs’ gift will provide support for administration of the program.

The gift expands the Gene and Sharon Chang Centennial Scholars Fund for Summer Research in China, which the Changs established in 2019 with an earlier gift of $75,000. The latest contribution significantly increases the number of summer scholarships that the institute can award — from three to 10 each year. The couple had also made a previous donation specifically for such scholarships.

“My wife, Sharon, and I are thrilled to be able to create a robust source of funding for summer research program scholarships at the Joint Research Institute,” Gene Chang said. “As a graduate of PKU, I know the stellar quality of its faculty and research labs. We are delighted that UCLA students will be able to participate in this unique program.”

Students in the program conduct research at Peking University laboratories under the mentorship of PKU faculty members while taking Chinese classes. Since 2010, a total of 125 UCLA students have participated in the program.

“I am grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Chang for their most recent gift to the PKU–UCLA Joint Research Institute,” said Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement. “Their generosity will make it possible for more UCLA students to acquire valuable international experience.”

The three-month program has earned high marks from the undergraduate and graduate students who have participated. In a recent survey by the institute, some 85% ranked it as their top or among their top experiences at UCLA.

“We deeply appreciate Mr. and Mrs. Chang’s contribution, which allows us to support more UCLA students to enrich their global education experience through this exciting summer research opportunity at PKU,” said Jason Cong, co-director of the PKU–UCLA Joint Research Institute and a UCLA distinguished professor of computer science.

Gene Chang is the managing director and chief operating officer of Himalaya Capital, an investment firm based in Seattle. He is an alumnus of Peking University, where he studied atmospheric physics, and he has served as chairman of the Peking University Alumni Association of Washington and was a member of the board of directors of PKU’s Global Alumni Association.


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