By Benjamin Hosking
Duncan Wong came to Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS) in 1998 to pursue a PhD in cryptography. He was attracted by the opportunity to work on research with renowned cryptographer, Professor Agnes Chan. “Without her guidance,” he says, “I would not [have been] able to produce the amazing research results”. Dr. Chan’s emphasis on rigorous mathematical proofs and security models inspired and influenced the rest of Wong’s career. He also credits Dr. Guevara Noubir and Dr. Rajmohan Rajaraman for his interest in network security.
The research and training Wong received at CCIS provided a rigorous foundation for his future endeavors. He notes, “The theory of computation and algorithm courses gave me a solid foundation for my research in applied cryptography”, not to mention the opportunities to work with his fellow graduate students. “I benefited a lot through discussions and interacting with other talented graduate students from different disciplines.”
Wong completed his PhD program in 2002 with his thesis on efficient and lightweight cryptographic key management schemes for mobile devices – a key topic considering the development of mobile devices at the time. After receiving his PhD, he returned to Hong Kong as a Professor (WHERE) to teach and supervise his own PhD students.
More recently, Wong joined the largest research and development center in Hong Kong, serving as the Vice President in Financial Technologies. And last year, he set up a company – CryptoBLK – specializing in Blockchain and cryptocurrencies to build enterprise computer systems.
“Running my own company is like nothing else. It takes a lot of courage, commitment, discipline, confidence, experience, knowledge, and requires a very rigorous thinking process as well as strategic planning. Quick and actionable decisions have to be made every day, and non-stop learning of new things is just the daily routine.” However, thanks to his work as a professor and as a VP in the Hong Kong R&D firm, he had the technological experience and business acumen to succeed in the challenge of “racing against time” to stay ahead of the competition. Having just passed their one year anniversary, the company has grown three-fold from 7 to 22 employees.
Wong has stayed in touch with Professor Chan and her family since finishing his PhD. Wong feels “proud of CCIS and Northeastern University at large.” He says that “seeing the university, as well as the college, doing great with [its] academic standing is especially encouraging.”