New Grant from Panda Express Establishes Postdoctoral Fellowship in Asian American Studies

Panda

The School of Arts and Sciences has received a generous grant from the Panda CommUnity Fund (PCUF), the corporate giving fund of Panda Express, to support the creation of the Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellowship in Asian American Studies (ASAM) at Penn. The fellowship program will bring recent Ph.D.s to ASAM, where they will have the opportunity to pursue their own scholarship, offer new courses, support undergraduate and graduate research, collaborate with faculty, and help organize programming.

David L. Eng, Faculty Director of Asian American Studies and Richard L. Fisher Professor of English, said, “These pathbreaking fellowships are the first named postdocs supporting Asian American studies in the Ivy League. With the generous support and vision of Panda Express, ASAM is forging a path of intellectual leadership and engagement for the field on the East Coast.” ASAM Co-Director Fariha Khan underscored that the fellows will be a vital link in a “student to faculty pipeline” in the program, ensuring the future of the field.

"In the same way that Panda Express has been built on a foundation of bridging flavors and cultures to bring people together, the Panda Express ASAM fellowships are dedicated to honoring and uplifting identities that by definition bridge cultures to promote greater understanding and belonging,” said Andrea Cherng, C’99, WG’13, Chief Brand Officer at Panda Restaurant Group. "Over the past 40 years, Panda Express has become synonymous with American Chinese food; and through the Panda CommUnity Fund, we hope to support education that creates progress in appreciating and celebrating the differences that make the multicultural fabric of our communities possible.”

The Panda Express Fellowship will support a total of five postdoctoral positions over the next three years. Weirong Guo, the inaugural Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellow in Asian American Studies, has been appointed for the current academic year. Guo received a B.A. in sociology from Fudan University in Shanghai, China in 2014, and a Ph.D. in sociology from Emory University in 2023.

A cultural and political sociologist, Guo studies global Chinas and the Asian diaspora in the U.S. In particular, her work explores how international migration—from authoritarian to democratic contexts—shapes transnational Chinese students’ shifting politics, sense of self, racial identity, and mental health issues. Her groundbreaking work has been published in Cultural Sociology and Social Psychology Quarterly. During her time at Emory, Guo was the recipient of the Graduate Student Teaching Award and the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship. This fall, she will be teaching Global Chinas and Chinese Diasporas, a new seminar for ASAM and the Department of Sociology.

“I am profoundly honored and thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking initiative,” said Guo. “The support from Panda Express and the opportunity to work at ASAM is a dream come true for someone in my field. I'm looking forward to not only advancing my own research and teaching but also to contributing to the nurturing and growth of this vital academic field.”

Through the efforts of the Panda CommUnity Fund (PCUF), Panda Express supports national and local organizations to deliver immediate and sustainable solutions to advance greater unity in communities. To date, PCUF has committed more than $6.2 million to support 50 nonprofit organizations doing critical work to advocate for marginalized communities in need and to empower diverse representation and storytelling across various industries.

 

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