When East Meets West: Lessons From Running A Lab Filled With Foreigners

As a rare Westerner strolling recently among Shanghai’s 12 million Chinese, I nearly caused spectacular bicycle pile-ups. Riders risked life and limb to snap their heads in my direction, underlining my novel role as a minority person. Yet when I returned to my research laboratory at Emory University in Atlanta, it seemed that little had changed. True, there were no potential bike catastrophes. But my research group of eight contains just three United States citizens. The rest are from C

Sidney Perkowitz
Nov 27, 1988

As a rare Westerner strolling recently among Shanghai’s 12 million Chinese, I nearly caused spectacular bicycle pile-ups. Riders risked life and limb to snap their heads in my direction, underlining my novel role as a minority person. Yet when I returned to my research laboratory at Emory University in Atlanta, it seemed that little had changed. True, there were no potential bike catastrophes. But my research group of eight contains just three United States citizens. The rest are from China, Taiwan, India, and Korea.

My group mirrors an important trend, the increasing numbers of international students and professionals in U.S. science and technology, many from China and other developing "Asiatic nations. The pros and cons for the U.S. and the home countries have been widely discussed, but I haven’t heard a great deal about the impact on university research groups, where much of this country’s science is done and taught....

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