Throughout his life, Dr Byron Choi has enjoyed the “paternal” companionship of a number of his seniors. The first one was his elder brother.

“Although only two years older than me, my elder brother looked after my younger brother and me like a father. His passion for learning made him our role model. The three of us often did revision together at home.” Coincidentally all three brothers selected engineering programmes at university. Byron and his elder brother studied computer engineering while his younger brother majored in civil engineering.

Upon completion of his undergraduate programme, Byron pursued a master’s degree and then a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States. During those years, he encountered two other “paternal” companions, namely his doctoral dissertation supervisors Professor Peter Buneman and Professor Fan Wenfei, whom he followed to work at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

“Peter is an insightful scholar who has made significant contributions to science. When working with him, I witnessed many of his brilliant ideas. As for Professor Fan, he demonstrated to me with great patience how to put ideas into action, enabling me to understand what makes a good research work. Without him, I may have been at a loss for quite some time before growing up.” Byron describes his relationship with them as a father-son bond and, having been raised by them, he hopes to follow their paternal example. “I would like to inspire and help students, passing on my limited knowledge and experience to future generations.”

Now that his role has changed from son to father, Byron is leading postgraduates in doing research. “Whenever the deadline for an academic conference submission is approaching, all of us have a hectic schedule. We share the same goal and push ourselves to the utmost like sprinters. I trust that my students, who do cherish such moments of togetherness, enjoy working as a team with a proactive and enterprising spirit.” Working closely with postgraduates, he successfully transformed research findings into new technologies and has applied for two US non-provisional patents.

Since becoming the father of a girl and twin boys, Byron has turned into a family man. “In the past, I often went on business trips and attended international conferences. However, since the birth of my kids, I have been trying my best to minimise business trips and spend as much time as possible with my family. I share the responsibility for looking after our kids with my wife, a busy working mom. I am really grateful to my mom who has helped us take care of our kids, shouldering a major part of our 'workload', especially in the first few years after they were born.”

Family was Byron’s primary consideration when choosing where to develop his career. “I used to work in Singapore. But when my wife got pregnant, we decided to return to Hong Kong as it’s our home. Then I joined HKBU.”

Doing his best to lead a research team in making continuous progress, spending quality time with his family after work, and witnessing the development of his kids at different stages, Byron, whether on or off campus, is undoubtedly a great dad.