Asian American Scholar Forum Commends Gang Chen, Once Targeted by the China Initiative, on Landmark Scientific Discovery

August 18, 2022


Washington, D.C.– Professor Gang Chen, the former head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, has led a team to discover what is said to be the best semiconductor ever found, performing better than silicon at conducting heat and electricity. This discovery opens up new possibilities for smaller and faster chips. 

Dr. Chen was once the subject of a yearlong investigation under the U.S. Department of Justice’s “China Initiative,” which raised serious concerns of racial profiling and targeting of Asian Americans and immigrants, particularly of Chinese descent. Like many other Asian American scientists and researchers, Dr. Chen had his “loyalty” questioned during a press conference and was scapegoated as a national security threat. Earlier this year, the Department of Justice dropped all charges against Dr. Chen, but according to Dr. Chen, “[f]or 371 days, [his] family and [him] went through a living hell.’” Despite this traumatic experience, Dr. Chen went on to contribute to our country’s research and academic enterprise. 

Asian American Scholar Forum issues the following statement:

“We congratulate Dr. Gang Chen for this groundbreaking achievement in scientific advancement. We commend Dr. Chen and his collaborators for this success. Dr. Chen’s story is one that would not have been possible had it not been for his own advocacy and the advocacy from the Asian American scientific and research community to combat profiling under the ‘China Initiative.’ In fact, Asian American Scholar Forum was founded because of Dr. Chen, his story, and his relentless strength.

Discriminatory programs like the ‘China Initiative’ have created a chilling effect on scientists and researchers in Asian American communities, causing great harm on individuals and their families. Fortunately, Dr. Chen was able to give back to our nation due to the work of many coming together to fight injustice. We will continue to work so that scientists like Dr. Chen are not targeted simply because of where they were born or what they look like. Our country is made stronger when Asian Americans and other immigrants are able to contribute freely without the fear of discrimination inhibiting their excellence and freedom.”


Asian American Scholar Forum (AASF) promotes academic belonging, openness, freedom, and equality for all. In response to heightened anti-Asian sentiments in the U.S. and increasing profiling of Chinese Americans and immigrants in science, AASF has been a leading national voice fighting for the rights of  Asian American and immigrant scientists, researchers, and scholars.