This is Part 3 of a four-part series looking at WCU’s four recently named distinguished professors who have joined the university this fall.
As a teenager, Wingyan Chung had already developed an affinity for computers, using them to build digital spreadsheets and documents.
Chung’s early love for computers continued during his college years amidst the rapid growth of the internet, later leading to a higher education career in management information systems. That path has led Chung to recently joining Western Carolina University’s College of Business as the Kneedler Distinguished Professor in Computer Information Systems.
Chung’s interest in information management emerged while majoring in business administration at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Several years after Chung completed his undergraduate degree, a professor encouraged him to enroll in the university’s master’s degree program in information and technology management.
“During the two-year program, I confirmed my strong interest in information systems, as well as doing research in this field,” he said.
After being accepted into several doctoral degree programs in the U.S., Chung chose the management information systems program at the University of Arizona. After earning his doctorate there, Chung remained in the U.S. as a faculty member teaching and conducting research at several institutions, most recently at the Institute for Simulation and Training at the University of Central Florida.
“Teaching allows me to share my knowledge with students,” Chung said. “I can contribute to the professional development of the students. And I’m very pleased to see these students learn and grow. Meanwhile, I can disseminate new knowledge through research and publication and presentation. I get tremendous satisfaction from this career.”
Of particular interest to Chung is developing and applying artificial intelligence in solving business and other real-world problems. Organizations and individuals are inundated with data, but many find it difficult to make sense of it all or utilize it properly, he said.
Over the years, Chung’s research has helped people better understand how data can be useful to the success of businesses.
“One example is I have worked with my colleagues to analyze large amounts of online review data,” he said. “This review data is about products sold on e-commerce websites. When users put in comments, they are expressing their concern or their appreciation or their particular interest in the products. The techniques that my team and I developed help organizations to extract the important factors that users are concerned with. Also, my research helped to quantify these reviews into different major aspects that customers are concerned with. Research shows the techniques outperformed the benchmark techniques.”
Chung said his research also helped develop an artificial intelligence technique to predict products that customers would be interested in based on their previous purchases.
“When customers see a large number of choices and when they see a large number of online product reviews, they may be overwhelmed,” he said. “Artificial intelligence that we developed can help to become very important business analytics technology that companies can deploy in their websites to reduce search time and to increase customer satisfaction, and eventually improves companies’ profitability.”
In addition to business, Chung’s research spans such diverse fields as cybersecurity, health informatics and computing education. Prior to joining WCU, he founded and directed research labs focusing on business analytics, cyber intelligence and security informatics.
Chung was a Fulbright Scholar from 2017 through 2019, collaborating on a cybersecurity research project with a professor from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Other achievements include being selected a senior member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In 2019, Chung received the Excellence in Research Award from the University of Central Florida.
He also has received research grants totaling more than $7 million from organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security.
At WCU, Chung looks forward to continuing his teaching and research.
“I hope my teaching in the MIS and CIS areas will help students develop professionally and help them to get relevant jobs,” Chung said. “I also hope to contribute to developing new programs and courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels that will benefit the College of Business. For example, a master of science program in business analytics should bring in new opportunities and resources for WCU to advance its mission.
“In terms of research, I hope to extend my line of research in business analytics and AI by collaborating with faculty members at WCU and researchers outside of WCU. At the same time, I look to increase the reputation of WCU, nationally and internationally, by performing international services for research and academic partnerships.”