Dr Rayson Huang completed primary and secondary education in Munsang College, Hong Kong of which his father was the founding principal and continued his studies with a scholarship at the University of Hong Kong until the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong in 1941 during which he served in the British auxiliary forces as a poison gas officer. He returned to China as a refugee in 1942 and was later awarded a Rhodes Trust Scholarship to pursue postgraduate study at Oxford. After getting the D.Phil degree he pursued post-doctoral research at the University of Chicago (1947-50).
In 1951, Dr Huang started teaching chemistry at the University of Malaya in Singapore (now the National University of Singapore) and in 1959 was transferred to University of Malaya's Kuala Lumpur campus. He became a tenured professor of chemistry and later acting Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Science. His research centred on the chemistry of free radicals and the resulting publications have earned him three doctor of science degrees, from the Universities of Malaya (Singapore), Oxford and Hong Kong.
In 1969 Dr Huang was appointed Vice-Chancellor at Nanyang University in Singapore.
In 1972, he became the first Chinese Vice-Chancellor of The University of Hong Kong until his retirement in 1986. In addition, he served in various capacities including membership of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1977 to 1983 and on the Basic Law Drafting Committee in drafting Hong Kong’s post handover constitution to China in 1997.
Dr Huang established the Grace Wei Huang Memorial Fund in 1999 and among books he has written is his autobiography, A Lifetime in Academia: proceeds from which are set aside for the fund. The "Rayson Huang Foundation" in Malaysia was established in 2001 in recognition of his pioneering work in free radicals research.
"... an outstanding academic, a sensible and perceptive administrator, and a talented man endowed with a sense of humour, a certain generosity of spirit and sensitivity to the needs of others." — J. Brian Heaton, China Quarterly, on the first edition of A Lifetime in Academia
In recognition of his accomplishments and contributions, we honour Dr Rayson Huang with the 2011 Distinguished Science Alumnus Award.