Asian Americans and STEM Conference held at Yale

large group of people standing on steps, smiling.
May 17, 2024

The interdisciplinary conference Asian Americans and STEM 2024 was held at Yale’s Greenberg Conference Center on May 10. The meeting brought together over 60 people from 18 institutions.  The attendees were scholars from the humanities and STEM fields who are actively engaged in exploring the history of race and racialization in their respective fields, with a particular focus on the shaping and impact of lived experiences and scholarship of Asian and Asian American scientists and their respective fields. The conference also examined the ways in which the work of these scientists has been remembered, obfuscated, or erased in standard histories of scientific discovery and invention. 

The opening keynote address was delivered by Dr. Howard Kyongju Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership and former United States Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  There were also three panels focusing on physics, life sciences, and computer science. Each panel consisted of scholars from the STEM fields, humanities, and social sciences.

Eun-Joo Ahn, postdoctoral associate at the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM) and the Yale Physics Department, one of the co-organizers of the conference, and a member of Yale’s Wright Lab said, “The attendees appreciated having a space to meet and discuss with those across disciplines. There was also the general expectation from the attendees that this conference will not be a one-off but continue, and we organizers hope that this meeting can be the inaugural conference of future ones.”

In addition to Ahn, the conference organizing committee included Wright Lab member and professor of Physics Reina Maruyama;  associate professor of Computer Science Theodore Kim; professor of American Studies and of History Mary Lui; Physics graduate program coordinator Rona Ramos; and Computer Science postdoctoral associate Yoehan Oh. Senior administrative assistant Camille Simeone (Physics/Wright Lab) and graduate students Adi Kumar (History), Jackie Wu (History), Ridge Liu (Physics/Wright Lab), Emily Pottebaum (Physics/Wright Lab), and Alvin Shi (Computer Science) supported the logistics and organization of the event.

Below is an excerpt from the opening remarks given by Kim, Lui, and Maruyama.

“As concerned scholars in the fields of Asian American Studies and the sciences we felt the need to come together and find ways to bridge our disciplines to understand the ways in which the histories of race in the U.S.—specifically Asian exclusion and anti-Blackness – have impacted our fields. We felt it was critical for scholars of humanities, social science, science, and technology to work jointly in new ways to chart new areas of cross-disciplinary teaching, research, and advocacy.”

“Our collaboration has proven to be timely with the formation of the Asian Faculty Association at Yale (AFAY) in response to many faculty and researchers affected by the [U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)] China Initiative, during which research groups on campus and around the country were or nearly [were] shut down. Our aim is that efforts like AFAY and our “Asian Americans and STEM” initiative help facilitate communication and better solutions to withstand domestic and international political turmoil, safeguard academic freedoms, and protect the international nature of our work beyond Yale and academia.”

For more information and the conference agenda, please see the conference website.

The Asian Americans and STEM 2024 conference was organized by the Asian Americans and STEM initiative at Yale and co-sponsored by Yale Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS), Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration (RITM), Traphagen Alumni Speakers Series, and the Yale College Office of Student Affairs.

External link: