Convocation: Governor General’s Gold Medal recipient makes breakthrough

June 08, 2016

By Gladys We

Shenwei Huang, who came to SFU from Shanghai, China in 2011 to study for a PhD in algorithmic graph theory—a branch of theoretical computing science and mathematics—has startled renowned scientists with his research findings.

His dissertation, Colouring on Hereditary Graph Classes, has settled a highly difficult but basic computational problem in graph colouring that has now become known as Huang’s Conjecture.

“The conjecture has become a hot topic,” says his supervisor, professor Pavol Hell. “A number of top researchers in the field are excited by the results and asking new questions."  

Huang’s cumulative grade point average, 4.17 out of a possible 4.33, also attracted attention, earning him a Governor General’s Gold Medal as one of SFU’s top academic graduate students.

He received two major scholarships during his doctoral studies— a President's PhD Scholarship and the Brian J. Blaha Memorial Graduate Scholarship—and published his work in a dozen leading academic journals. He also delivered presentations about his research at six international conferences, and received an SFU International Research Travel award to work with two professors at Durham University in the U.K.

“It was a wonderful experience to cooperate with scholars from other institutions,” he says. “Not only does it help to advance our knowledge in a more efficient way, it also provided me the opportunity to learn from more experienced researchers in terms of how to ask questions. Sometimes it is more difficult to find a good problem than to solve one.”

He will soon be working at the University of New South Wales on a postdoctoral fellowship, where he will continue to seek a deeper understanding of his field, both through independent research and through collaborations established at SFU.

Says Huang, "I'd like to sincerely thank my parents, my wife Ling Ding, and my supervisor for their tremendous support during my PhD at SFU, without which nothing would have been possible."

To learn more about his research:

Story originally featured in SFU News