Board Statement on Treatment of Students and Scientists of International Origin in the US

Archived Board Statement

May 21, 2020

Our national response to the pandemic can only succeed with the broadest participation by scientists. The APS Board therefore notes with great concern reports that many students and scientists of international origin in the US feel they are under attack1,2. They experience heightened governmental suspicion based on their national origin that is expressed in many ways, including restrictions on participation in some areas of fundamental research that could be vital to our national response to the current crisis as well as to all future challenges. This has particularly affected students and scientists of Chinese descent.

As recently noted by the APS Presidential Line, “The success of the scientific enterprise of any nation requires maintaining a balance between being openly collaborative and securely competitive.”3 The APS Board has previously expressed our firm belief that this balance is best maintained by adherence to universal ethical standards of openness and inclusion that must govern the behavior of everyone involved in the scientific enterprise4. Those who violate these standards harm all of us, and must be called to account. Just as important, unfair treatment of a segment of our physics community based on national or ethnic origin is antithetical to these values and should not be tolerated. The APS Board wishes to reaffirm these ethical principles, and reassure all students and scientists that they are highly valued members of our community. We are working actively to support international members of the scientific community in the US and abroad5, and particularly appreciate the contributions to science and society of those studying or working in the US. Their presence here enriches us all.

1House Oversight Committee Feb 2020 letter to FBI
House Oversight Committee Feb 2020 letter to NIH
China’s scientists alarmed, bewildered by growing anti-Chinese sentiment in the United State (Science)
Chinese scientists and US leadership in the life sciences (Nature Bioengineering)
The new red scare on American campuses (The Economist)
Chinese Americans uneasy as tensions disturb research (Nature)
As China Anxiety Rises in U.S., Fears of New Red Scare Emerge (Bloomberg News)
2Attracting the Best Students in the World to US Universities: Challenges and Opportunities
3APS News August/September 2019, The Back Page
4APS Board Feb 2020 Statement on Open Science and a Recommitment to Research Principles
5APS International Programs (edited)