Generosity to Engineering reflects alum’s view of Berkeley as key to his success

Hao Zhang’s gift of a named professorship also honors his family, with the goal of inspiring Asian American philanthropy.

Color photo headshot of Zhang

Hao Zhang

Hao Zhang M.A. ’05, Ph.D. ’07 is one of the innovators of state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and machine learning methods in financial forecasting — and he credits his time in Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) as formative. “That training and education,” he says, “has been a cornerstone in my life.”

Zhang earned a master’s degree in statistics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Berkeley, developing the skills and know-how that were crucial to his success in a cutting-edge field. He went on to join Two Sigma Investments, where he is currently a managing director.

Zhang chose to celebrate the role Berkeley faculty played in his life by creating the Zhang Family Endowed Professorship, which helps junior faculty in EECS thrive. “The mentorship and support I received was beyond anything I could have imagined,” he says. “To now be in a position to give back — to help young faculty develop in their careers and contribute to advancements in Al and computer vision — it’s both humbling and exciting.”

For Zhang, Berkeley EECS is an obvious place to support discovery and make a powerful impact on society: “The innovations that continue to emerge from the EECS department, and Berkeley as a whole, never cease to amaze me.”

By naming this professorship after his family, Zhang hopes to recognize how his achievements have been built on the bedrock of family support. He also intends to inspire others within his community, “to represent Asian American giving, namely to set an example for others to follow suit.”

Zhang is also a benefactor to Asian American heritage in other ways, as a supporter of the Chinese calligraphy collection at Berkeley’s C.V. Starr East Asian Library. He hopes that the university’s calligraphy collection will be a cultural resource and an inspiration for California’s vibrant East Asian population.

He is also characteristically gracious about recently being named as a Builder of Berkeley, an honor bestowed to visionary philanthropists with total personal giving of $1 million or more to the university. “I see this less as a personal achievement and more as a testament to Berkeley’s inspiring community of learners and innovators,” Zhang says. “It’s an honor to be part of it.”

Related stories