Melvin and Gertrude Waldfogel Scholar of the College

A couple of weeks ago, I was ending the day by checking the last few unread emails and was pleasantly surprised to learn in an email from the Dean that I had been selected as the “Melvin and Gertrude Waldfogel Scholar of the College for the three-year period 2020/21 – 2022/23. This award honors faculty whose exemplary scholarly research and creative work shows intellectual risk and rigor, and who have achieved a high level of distinction in teaching and service.” I had no idea I was nominated for this award and it was truly a shock to receive this honor. The Waldfogel Scholar award is a relatively new endowed award, so I do not know much about it. However, I appreciate that it commented on “intellectual risk and rigor” as one of the selection criteria, as well as acknowledging the contributions to teaching and service.

The original FamiLee

If you ever wondered where we got the name for the lab, here is the OG. My parents owned FamiLee Cleaners and Tailors in CT for around 15 years. My brothers and I all worked there at some point in time. For me, it was during breaks from college and grad school. I learned a lot from working side by side my parents and my brothers. It was hot hard work standing on your feet all day but the memories will last a lifetime.


Many years ago when I was just starting out as a new faculty member, I got an email from a graduate student at another institution who asked if I would mentor him. I said sure and we collaborated on some papers. Fast forward 20+ years and we are now good friends. Dr. Matt Miller from Loyola University in Chicago, has gone on to do great things, including creating SPOKENproject – a documentary on resisting, surviving, healing from, and coping with racism through storytelling. Watch and learn.

Racism has been and continues to be a pressing social issue that threatens the mental , academic, vocational, economic, social, and physical health and safety of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Inspired by Audre Lorde and years of first-hand knowledge of the healing that comes in the form of and through our own storytelling, SPOKENproject aims to provide BIPOC a space to give voice to their experiences, share strategies for coping with racism, and find validation, support, and a sense of connection – and ultimately help to resist, deconstruct, and dismantle racism.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” Audre Lorde, The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action.

New Narratives podcast by Asian American Organizing Project

Episode 01: It’s a fiction (click on Episode 1 or the above image to listen)

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was invited to participate in a variety of webinars and podcasts related to racism/xenophobia, identity, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Just got informed that this local one is now available online to the public. Below is a description of the podcast. Check it out!

Welcome to New Narratives, a podcast by Asian American Organizing Project that highlights the voices of Minnesotan Asian American/Pacific Islanders. This episode focuses on Asian American/Pacific Islander identity development, where the term “Asian American” came from, and what it means to be AAPI. We also discuss the Model Minority myth, where it came from, and what implications the myth has for the community. Guests include: Professor Rich Lee and Professor Vichet Chhuon from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Joan Dao with the Vietnamese Solidarity and Action Network, and Sierra Takushi, Colorado College ’21.

Host: Anya Steinberg, Storyteller Intern

For more information, visit:

Follow us on Instagram: @aaopmn

But really, how are you?

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by CoryAnn Kleinhaus who is a nurse anesthetist working on the front lines with Covid-19 patients in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As a way to make sense out of this terrible time, she decided to create an emotional well-being podcast. In the podcast, CoryAnn interviews psychologists and researchers in the emotional well-being field. The focus is on providing information to help front line workers or anyone who needs help with their emotions and their relationships.

I will be featured this upcoming Sunday, Sept 13th, 2020. You can listen to my interview and others at the link below.

Planting Seeds in Diversity Science in Psychology

When I look back on the trajectory of my academic research career, I now see a pattern. While my work broadly covers the psychological experiences surrounding culture, ethnicity, race, and migration, it can be perceived as non-linear, scattered, or even unfocused. I don’t have a narrow program of research that is often favored in academia. My work instead forays into so many topics and populations.

I have come to realize I’m a sower of seeds. I see a land that is barren. A field filled with gaps. So rather than homestead on a single plot of land, I am trying to plant seeds a over for future generations of scholars to expand upon and harvest.

Diversity science is not a mature field except in a few areas for a few specific populations in particular contexts. There is a lot questions to still answer and opportunities to explore. I cannot help but see these gaps, ask new questions, and try to create new areas to explore.

Being a sower of seeds is not a bad thing. We all cannot be agriculture corporations. In fact, I don’t want to ever be that. I have a hard enough time imagining myself as a one crop farmer. Instead, I’m just trying to diversify what is grown. And anyway, I hear it’s good for the earth to diversify crops when farming.

CLA Alumni Town Hall

I had the chance last week to present our COVID-19 Wellness Survey to CLA Alumni who attended the virtual town hall meeting hosted by CLA Dean John Coleman. My bit starts at around 37:35 on YouTube. It’s about an 8 minute clip.  I need to do a better job of looking at the camera and not my notes!

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Never say goodbye

When my grad students go off on internships and jobs, it’s just the start of their professional lives and I remind them that we hopefully will see each other throughout our careers now as colleagues. Sent off Adam and Christine this weekend. Adam will be a visiting professor at Wesleyan University and Christine is now on her predoc internship close by at the Mpls VA.

Hidden Among the Hidden!

Congratulations to 6th year grad student Christine Wu and collaborators, including Sam Lee who is an undergrad from the familee lab, on this great qualitative study on adopted Korean American adults and their multiracial parenting experiences. Added bonus – another joint publication with my partner, Heewon Lee!