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Published On September 19, 2019

POLICY

Podcast: The Important, Impossible Role of the Chinese Graduate Researcher

Scientific collaborations with China are the latest front in the trade war. Foreign students are torn between two nations—and wrestling with a mental health crisis.

More than 12% of all students working towards a science-related PhD in the United States is visiting from China. Their hard work and tuition fees play a major role in the ecosystem of U.S. research. But in the past year, this long-standing relationship has become dramatically more complicated.

Many of these students now face new restrictions on their student visas, the upshot of new suspicion between U.S. and Chinese governments. Against this background, many face episodes of maddening bias from their U.S. peers, and pressures from China to come back home. Not surprisingly, performing science in the eye of a political storm has taken a toll on their mental health.

Justin Chen is the co-director of primary care psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the executive director of the MGH Center for Cross-Cultural Student Emotional Wellness. He has studied the curious position of Chinese students in America—the pressures they face, differences in mental health care, and how research institutions can protect this critical community.

Listen to the Proto podcast here, or subscribe through iTunes or Stitcher.

The Important, Impossible Role of the Chinese Graduate Researcher