Title and Abstract

Panel 1: Physics and Science without Borders

Maria Ong
Lived Experiences of Asian American Women in Physics and STEM Higher Education: Achievements and Enduring Challenges
I draw from recent national data and over 20 years of qualitative research to consider the achievements of and challenges for Asian American women pursuing higher education in physics and other STEM fields. Due to their overrepresentation in STEM academia, Asian American women are an understudied population. However, while they are usually treated as a monolith, they represent many national backgrounds and cultures, and they often experience racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination in STEM spaces. From my team’s research, I will bring into high relief the diverse, lived experiences of Asian American women participants, both their stories of triumph and resilience and stories of invisibility, microaggressions, and limitations on their mobility and leadership opportunities. The presentation will conclude with some research questions that may be jointly explored by scholars in Asian American studies and physics or STEM education.

Toyoko Orimoto
Exploring the Smallest Scales with the World's Largest Science Experiment: Journey to the Energy Frontier of Particle Physics
Particle physics is the study of the world’s smallest constituents of nature, the basic building blocks of the universe, and the interactions between them. Journeying from the smallest scales of nature to the world’s biggest science experiments, I will describe what it takes to discover new elementary particles at the CERN Large Hadron Collider with the CMS Experiment, one of the largest scientific instruments ever built. I will also touch upon the personal aspects of my journey as an Asian American scientist and my work to make science more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Zuoyue Wang
  (Cal Poly Pomona)
Chinese American Physicists and US-China Relations: A Historical Perspective
Chinese American physicists have made crucial contributions to American science, technology, and diplomacy, but they have also suffered politically and racially influenced investigations in the US. As US-China tension have heightened in recent years, Chinese Americans in physics and other fields have come under increased scrutiny. This presentation explores the history and lived experiences of Chinese American physicists, including those who have been investigated by the US government, as well as the potential connections and lessons this history holds for Asian American scientists today.

Xiaoxing Xi
Researching while Chinese in the United States
Geopolitical tensions between the United States and China have made researching while Chinese in the US a hazardous endeavor. In 2015, I was arrested and falsely charged by the Department of Justice for sharing American company technology with China, which I never did. From 2018-2022, the DOJ charged numerous university professors under its “China Initiative” for allegedly failing to disclose ties in China. The fear associated with potential federal prosecution and investigation, along with new laws, such as the CHIPS and Science Act, and new government regulations, have created a brain drain from the United States.

Panel 2: Race and Life Sciences

Sandy Chang
Underrepresentation of Asian awardees for NIH R01 funding and biomedical research prizes
Obtaining National Institute of Health (NIH) R01 grants is perhaps the most important step for biomedical investigators to gain tenure at competitive research universities. To receive R01 funding, applicants initiate original proposals for evaluation by a peer-review process that considers the proposal’s significance, innovation, and approach. The quality of the investigator and the research environment are also important factors for funding success. Meritorious applications are discussed and scored by a panel of scientists. R01 award success has plummeted in recent years, falling below 10% in many NIH institutes. Compared to white applicants, Asian applicants were significantly less likely to be awarded an R01 grant. On average, Asian applicants have to submit almost twice as many R01 applications as their white counterparts to obtain funding. In addition, established Asian biomedical scientists were significantly underrepresented as awardees of biomedical research prizes. For example, only 6.5% of National Academy of Sciences members in the biological sciences are Asian. I will discuss possible ways for Asian scientists to reduce R01 funding disparity and to be more competitive for research awards.

Alka Menon
The Craft of Asian Aesthetic Surgery
How do cosmetic surgeons generate and apply knowledge using the racial category "Asian"? "Asian" does not stand in only or even primarily for physical traits in cosmetic surgery. This talk shows how "Asian" is an ambiguous and subjectively rich category that allows practicing physicians to advertise their services to transnational markets, delineate cultural attitudes toward the body, and distinguish a set of surgical techniques. This case helps show how the category Asian circulates across medicine, popular culture, and politics, giving it additional staying power.

Christine Peralta
A Filipino Nurse in New Haven: Complicating the Legacy of US empire in Nursing education in the Philippines, 1941-1950
In 1941, a Filipino nurse traveled to New Haven to meet her idol. The nurse was Julita Sotejo, who in 1948 established the first college of nursing in the Philippines. Sotejo’s idol was Annie Goodrich, a nurse who served as the first dean of Yale’s College of Nursing. Despite these women’s shared ambitions, Sotejo’s professors were unable to see past a racial hierarchy which deemed Sotejo ineligible to be an architect of nursing education. In response, Sotejo designed a curriculum which looked beyond US models of nursing education as monolithic and universal. In this talk, I will examine what ended up influencing Sotejo’s nursing curriculum and how this complicates our understanding of both nursing education and ultimately nursing migration from the Philippines.

David Yang
Racialization of Asian Americans in Medicine
In this talk, I will address three topics: how the racialization of Asian American medical students impact their medical training; how the pandemic changed this racialized experience, and consider how racialization is embedded throughout the medical learning environment.

Panel 3: Asian Americans and Computer Science

Huan He
Engineering Asians
What is “Asian American” about computation? What’s “computational” about Asian America? Rather than take these terms as self-evident, this talk examines how they reflect intertwined histories of racial and technological formation. I will think through the figure of the “model minority” computer engineer to elaborate on computation as an expansive concept, forged in the race-liberal experiments of our times.

Kai Li
From Fear to Belonging and From Invisible to Valued
Asian Americans face enduring challenges rooted in historical discrimination, exemplified by the Chinese Exclusion Act and the internment of Japanese Americans, which continue to impact us today. Moreover, the issues of invisibility and the stereotype of being perpetual foreigners continue to impact us and our future generations. This presentation will give an overview of three initiatives launched by the Asian American Scholar Forum to tackle these persistent obstacles, including advocacy work to influence policies, data collection and analysis to speak with the voice of data, and Asian American Pioneer award aimed at changing the narrative about Asian Americans.

Youwen Ouyang
  (Cal State San Marcos)
Thinking Outside the Box through Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Chinese cultural wisdom favors obedience and conformation. “A harmonious family leads to prosperity in everything.” “Among hundreds of virtues, filial piety comes first.” The over-emphasis on good grades from many Chinese parents also contribute to boxing their students’ imagination. In this talk, I would like to share my experience of interdisciplinary collaborations that had opened opportunities beyond my disciplinary training in computer science. I hope it would be an encouragement for more Asian Americans to think outside the box our cultures and upbringing might have set around us.

Palashi Vaghela
  (UC San Diego)