Celebrating Graduate Center Scholars During AAPI Heritage Month

May 1, 2023

The Graduate Center recognizes the work of our alumni and faculty during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Anjela Manandhar, Ashna Ali, Yoko Nomura, and Soyeon Lee
(L-R) Anjela Manandhar, Ashna Ali, Yoko Nomura, and Soyeon Kate Lee

From the first woman of Asian descent to join the piano faculty at Juilliard to a professor whose experience in Japan helped shape her work on maternal mental health, we are celebrating our scholars during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  

Soyeon Kate Lee is standing next to the grand piano
Soyeon Kate Lee (Photo credit: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco)

Soyeon Kate Lee (D.M.A. ’18, Music) became the first woman of Asian descent to join the piano faculty at the Juilliard School. She said the appointment is both a dream come true and a win for representation. 

Anjela Manandhar (Biochemistry)
Anjela Manandhar (Photo courtesy of Anjela Manandhar)

Anjela Manandhar (Ph.D. ’19, Biochemistry), one of just a few Nepali women to hold a Ph.D., landed a postdoc position at a pharmaceutical company.  As a small minority in a technology field, she explains how she tries to help others, especially women, considering Ph.D. research.   

Yoko Nomura Headshot (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)
Yoko Nomura (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

When Professor Yoko Nomura (GC/Queens College, Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience) left Japan more than three decades ago to get a Ph.D. in sociomedical sciences at Columbia University, she had a specific goal. “I wanted to be a voice for women,” she says. 

Margaret_Chin_Book_469px_241px Stuck
Margaret M. Chin 

The American Sociological Association (ASA) recently recognized the exceptional work of Professor Margaret M. Chin (GC/Hunter, Sociology, International Migration Studies), who is a co-winner of the Max Weber Book Award from the Organizations, Occupations, and Work section of ASA for her book Stuck: Why Asian Americans Don’t Reach the Top of the Corporate Ladder

Tina Law headshot
Tina Law (Photo courtesy of Tina Law)

Stone Center postdoctoral scholar Tina Law, a computational social scientist who studies how large-scale changes in cities affect racially minoritized residents, reflects on being a first-gen college grad and the role her Chinese mother and grandmother, who resettled in the U.S. as Vietnam War refugees, played in her education

Jennifer Zhu
Jennifer Zhu (Photo credit: Coralie Carlson)

Jennifer Zhu (Ph.D. ’22, Biology), a first-generation college graduate who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown, explains how she is helping to restore New York Harbor as part of the Billion Oyster Project.  

Professor Anita Raja
Anita Raja (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

Professor Anita Raja (GC/Hunter, Computer Science) and a team of researchers use artificial intelligence to create bias-free models that can help predict severe preeclampsia in first-time mothers and report some unexpected findings that can lower the risk of this dangerous condition. 

Ashna Ali; Photo credit: Alex Irklievski
Ashna Ali (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

Ashna Ali (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature), a queer, agender Bangladeshi diasporic poet, writer, researcher, and educator, was recently honored by Brooklyn Poets. Read one of Ali’s poems

Headshot of George Takei
George Takei

We also celebrate George Takei, who will receive an honorary degree at Commencement on June 2. Born in Los Angeles, Takei was a child when he and his family were among the more than 125,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned in internment camps by the United States government. He has become a notable voice on contemporary politics and human rights, including marriage equality. 

Published by the Office of Communications and Marketing