Panelist Biographies

Panel 1: Physics and Science without Borders

Maria Ong

Maria (Mia) Ong, PhD, is a Senior Research Scientist at TERC. For nearly three decades, Dr. Ong has researched the lived experiences of women of color and other marginalized groups in STEM. She has authored a book, The Double Bind in Physics Education: Intersectionality, Equity, and Belonging for Women of Color (Harvard Education Press, 2023), and holds over 40 other publications, including pieces in The Journal of Research in Science Teaching and The Journal of Engineering Education. Dr. Ong has sat on several national advisory committees, including the American Institute of Physics National Task Force to Eliminate African American Underrepresentation in Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP, 2018–2020) and the National Academies Committee on Policies and Practices for Supporting Caregivers Working in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (2023–2024). She is a former co-recipient of a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (1998) and an American Physical Society Excellence in Physics Education Award (2022). Dr. Ong holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Studies in Education from the University of California at Berkeley.


Toyoko Orimoto

Toyoko Orimoto is an Associate Professor of Physics at Northeastern University. She is an experimental particle physicist who studies the smallest constituents of nature using one of the world’s largest science experiments–the CMS Experiment at the CERN Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Prof. Orimoto leads the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter and contributes to the upgrade of CMS to include a new precision timing detector. She is interested in studies of the Higgs boson as a probe for new physics, such as dark matter or extra spatial dimensions. Prior to joining the Northeastern faculty, Prof. Orimoto was a fellow at CERN (2009-2012) and the Robert A. Millikan fellow at the California Institute of Technology (2006-2009). She completed her PhD (2006) and BA (2000) at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied matter-antimatter asymmetry for her doctoral dissertation.


Zuoyue Wang

Zuoyue Wang is a Professor of History at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, specializing in science, technology, and politics in modern US, China, and transnational contexts. Born in China and originally trained in physics, he received his PhD from the University of California Santa Barbara and published In Sputnik’s Shadow: The President’s Science Advisory Committee and Cold War America (Rutgers University Press, 2008; Chinese translation by Peking University Press in 2011). He is currently studying the history of Chinese American scientists and engineers and US-China scientific relations, for which he received a grant from the National Science Foundation. He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2019.


Xiaoxing Xi

Xiaoxing Xi is the Laura H. Carnell Professor of Physics at Temple University. Prior to 2009, he was Professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his PhD in physics from Peking University and Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, in 1987. After several years of research at Karlsruhe Nuclear Research Center, Germany, Bell Communication Research/Rutgers University, and University of Maryland, he joined the Physics faculty at Penn State in 1995. His research focuses on the materials physics of oxide and boride thin films. He is author of over 350 refereed journal articles and 3 U.S. patents. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of American Physical Society. Since 2015, he has spoken out actively for open fundamental research and against racial profiling, for which he received the American Physical Society 2020 Andrei Sakharov Prize.


Panel 2: Race and Life Sciences

Sandy Chang

Sandy Chang is a physician-scientist with a research focus on the molecular mechanisms of telomere end protection. For the past 21 years, his contributions to the telomere field revealed how chromosome end protection is performed by distinct shelterin components, enabling a single protein complex to prevent activation of several different modes of DNA damage response and repair. In addition, his lab has revealed mechanistically how telomere length is maintained by telomerase and the CST complex. Dr. Chang has been a direct research mentor to over 45 undergraduate, graduate and MD-PhD students, postdocs and clinical research fellows. His teaching includes a First Year Seminar course specifically for underrepresented minorities and first generation-low income (URM/FGLI) Yale undergraduates ("Perspectives in Biological Research"). As the Associate Dean of STEM Education and Undergraduate Research at Yale College, he has developed programs to increase by over 300% the number of URM/FGLI students participating in independent research with Yale faculty for the first time.

Alka Menon

Alka V. Menon is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Yale University and author of Refashioning Race: How Global Cosmetic Surgery Crafts New Beauty Standards. She studies the relationship between medicine, technology, and society, with a focus on race and racism, using cases from cosmetic surgery to medical AI apps. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. She received her BA in the Biological Sciences from Cornell University and her PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University.

Christine Peralta

Christine Peralta is a tenure-track assistant professor in History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College. She received her PhD in history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She writes on the US empire, gender, and race. She has published in  Amerasia,  Women's Suffrage in the Americas, and Global Migration, Gender and Professional Credentials. She is currently working on a book entitled Insurgent Care: Filipina women’s medical knowledge production under Spanish and US empire, 1870-1948.

David Yang

David Yang is a Yale Emergency Scholar and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fellow in the Department of Emergency Medicine. He earned his BS in Biomedical Engineering and BSAS in Electrical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis, MD from LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, and his MHS from Yale University. Nationally, he has served as Mental Health Co-Chair for the Asian American Pacific Medical Students Association (APAMSA) and on the Equity and Inclusion Committee with the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM). At the local level, he works closely with the sexual assault forensics committee and as an Interprofessional Longitudinal Clinical Experience (ILCE) mentor. His current research focuses on addressing disparities of care in three domains. First, he examines the discrimination that healthcare workers face in the clinical setting with a particular focus on Asian Americans. Second, he focuses on improving the quality of care that survivors experience after a sexual assault. Third, he examines health outcomes and prehospital service utilization among patients presenting with behavioral emergencies.

Panel 3: Asian Americans and Computer Science

Huan He

Huan He is an Assistant Professor of English at Vanderbilt University and previously a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan. His research engages Asian/American literature and culture, digital studies, and critical game studies. His book project, titled The Racial Interface, examines digital capitalism through Asian American literature, art, and media. His research appears in Configurations, College Literature: A Journal of Critical Literary Studies, Media-N, Just Tech and a new anthology on Asian American game studies. He is also an author of a forthcoming co-written monograph titled Technoskepticism: Between Possibility and Refusal. Additionally, he writes poetry, which can be found in Poetry, Sewanee Review, A Public Space, Beloit Poetry Journal, and elsewhere.

Kai Li

Kai Li, the Paul M. Wythes and Marcia R. Wythes Professor in Computer Science, earned his PhD from Yale in 1986 and joined Princeton the same year.  As a computer scientist, he has made several seminal contributions including distributed shared memory, which made significant impact on the development of large-scale shared memory multiprocessor systems in the 1990s, user-level communication mechanism which evolved into the RDMA standard, broadly used in data-center networking, and co-leading ImageNet's development, which is pivotal to AI's deep learning revolution. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded Data Domain, which revolutionized data storage with deduplication technology, displacing tape libraries for backups in data centers. In 2021, he co-founded the Asian American Scholar Forum, a leading nonprofit supporting AAPI scholars, instrumental in ending the harmful China Initiative and advocating for the community through impactful initiatives like the AAPI Pioneer Award. Prof. Li is an ACM fellow, IEEE fellow, a member of the National Academy of Engineering.


Youwen Ouyang

Youwen Ouyang is a Professor of Computer Science at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in China before coming to the U.S for her doctoral study. Prof. Ouyang is an advocate for and practitioner of interdisciplinary collaborations. She is an entrepreneur who creates and implements education opportunities and career pathways for students, with a passion for those traditionally underrepresented in computing. From 2008 to 2016, she collaborated with education faculty to promote computational thinking in upper elementary and middle schools. Through a partnership with education and psychology faculty, high school administrators and teachers, non-profit organizations, as well as tech professionals, Prof. Ouyang founded the Women’s Hackathon @ CSUSM in Spring 2014 and has supported about 1,000 young women. She created the Fab Friday program, an extracurricular, project-based learning experiences that helped over 200 students build their portfolios for internship and job search. Currently, Prof. Ouyang is leading an interdisciplinary collaboration project funded by the California Learning Lab to introduce data science for sociology students. 

Palashi Vaghela

Palashi Vaghela is a President's Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California San Diego She is an engineer turned scholar, educator, and writer. She has a Ph.D. in Information Science from Cornell University. Dr. Vaghela use ethnographic, qualitative, and mixed methods to study relations of power and inequality that are invisible or unaccounted for in wider understandings of computing practice and culture. Her work brings together theoretical, analytical, and methodological approaches from Computing and Information Science, Science and Technology Studies (STS), and Feminist Studies. Dr. Vaghela's current project looks at relations of caste and gender in the Information Technology industry in India and Indian diaspora.