Professor Lai Choy Heng is the Vice Provost (Academic Personnel) at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Prof Lai chaired the University Promotion and Tenure Committee during 2003-11. He works with the Provost in academic personnel matters including recruitment and development, benchmarking and resource allocation. He also oversees The Logistic Institute-Asia Pacific, a joint effort between NUS and Georgia Institute of Technology in the USA.
A graduate of The University of Chicago, Prof Lai was a post-doctoral Research Fellow of the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen from 1978 to 1980. He was a Visiting Member to the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy from 1983 to 1986 and Visiting Scientist, Center for Theoretical Physics, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, MIT, from 1986 to 1987. A faculty member of NUS since 1980, he became Dean of the Faculty of Science from 2000 to 2003. He was also the Head of the Departments of Computational Science (1996-97) and Physics (1998-2000). He was appointed the University's Vice Provost (Academic Personnel) in June 2003. Concurrently, he is also the Deputy Director of the Centre for Quantum Technologies (since 2007), a Research Centre of Excellence in quantum information science and technology at NUS.
Prof Lai's current areas of research are in complex systems and complex networks as well as in quantum information and computation. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in Singapore, as well as a member of the American Physical Society. In addition, he is a member of the Editorial Board, International Journal of Modern Physics C (since 1995), and serves as a reviewer for many of the respected physics and computational science journals.
One of the pioneers in Computational Science at NUS, Prof Lai became its first Department Head in 1996. He was also a member of the theoretical physics group in the Department of Physics and initiated with his colleagues the "quantum computing" movement. The movement eventually attracted Prof Artur Ekert, a leading authority in quantum information science, to Singapore and led to the formation of the Centre for Quantum Technologies in 2007.
Prof Lai was actively involved in the promotion of nanoscale science and technology, first as the Dean in the Faculty of Science, and later as the Chair of the Management Board of the NUS NanoScience and NanoTechnology Initiative. He was also the Chair of the A*STAR TechScan Panel on Nanotechnology in 2004-5.
Prof Lai was also responsible for the exploratory efforts over many years that led to the establishment of the NUS Research Institute in the Suzhou Industrial Park in China.
In 2003, Prof Lai received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) from the Singapore Government. In 2002, the French Government conferred upon him the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Academiques for his contributions to relations between the two countries within the academic field.