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Recent Faculty Accolades

February 27, 2017

Our faculty include award-winning scholars and teachers from multiple departments at the the University of Minnesota: American studies; curriculum and instruction; English; gender, women, and sexuality studies; history; psychology; and sociology. They've won national awards for their research, as well as University of Minnesota teaching awards for their excellence in both undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Professor Erika Lee

Professor Erika Lee is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in adult non-fiction from the American Library Association for her book The Making of Asian America: A History. In June 2015, The Making of Asian America: A History was recognized as a book of exceptional merit, and was reveiwed by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The LA Times, and others. It was also named Best Nonfiction book of 2015 by Kirkus Reviews, and was on History Buffs' list "10 Can't Miss History Books of 2015."

In 2015, Lee received the Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation for her research on immigration history on Angel Island, as exemplified in her book Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, which she co-authored with Judy Young.  

Professor Josephine Lee

Professor Josephine Lee has successfully completed her term as President of the Association for Asian American Studies. Lee was key in founding the department, where she served as president from 2010-2012. In April 2016, Lee received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies for her outstanding and lifelong contribution to the field of Asian American studies.

In 2015, Lee earned the Ruth Christie Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of English, University of Minnesota. Along with Professor Bic Ngo, Lee is the current recipient of the US Department of Education Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution Grant for 2016 until 2021, for which they were granted $1.75 million dollars. This grant is intented to provide assistance to Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institutions to enable such institutions to improve and expand their capacity to serve Asian Americans, Native American Pacific Islanders, and low-income individuals.

Professor Richard Lee

Professor Richard Lee just started his his term as the President of the Asian American Psychological Association, working to advance the mental health and well-being through research, professional practice, education, and policy. Lee was also elected editor for the Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology Journal and will serve from 2015-2019. In addition, Lee has appeared on numerous publications in the past two years.

Professor Melissa Kwon

In addition to her role as a professor, Melissa Kwon is a research associate at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota. Kwon has been awarded a special grant for her project with the Minnesota Young Women's Collaborative by the Women's Center at the University of Minnesota, allowing her to facilitate projects that aim to improve the health of Asian American women.

Professor Jigna Desai

Professor Jigna Desai has been named one of six Generation Next/Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) Faculty Fellows. As a part of this prestigious role, Desai and the other five fellows will work in the context of Minneapolis-St. Paul to zero in on the structural roots of the achievement gap, and what steps can be taken to close that gap.

Professor Vichet Chhuon

Professor Vichet Chhuon was the recipient of the National Association for Multicultural Education’s 2015 Carl A. Grant Presidential Research Award, which is given to an exemplary multicultural educator who has demonstrated a long-term scholarly commitment to multicultural education, and whose research addresses the multiple facets of human diversity, as well as how multicultural issues manifest themselves in US. schools and society.

Chhuon received the 2015 Early Career Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. In addition, Chhuon also received the College of Education and Human Development’s Multicultural Faculty Recognition Award in 2015.

Professor Kale Fajardo

As of September 2015, Professor Kale Fajardo joined the editorial board of the Critical Ethnic Studies Journal, a publication that offers an interdisciplinary scope, pressing back against the domestication of ethnic studies as a field. Published by the University of Minnesota Press, some topics covered by the Critical Ethnic Studies Journal include Indigenous sovereignty, critiques of antiblackness, intersectional feminist and queer analyses, disability studies, border and migration studies, and critical refugee studies.