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The Asian American Studies Program has increased in size following the launch of the Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellowship. Credit: Cynthia Dong

The Asian American Studies Program has doubled in size through new faculty hires and the launch of the Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellowship.

The Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellowship is funded through the Panda CommUnity Fund, Panda Express’s corporate giving fund. The fellowship is set to enhance course diversity, deepen the curriculum, and expand the field by fostering a transition from student to academia.

Weirong Guo is the first Panda Express Postdoctoral Fellow in ASAM. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Emory University, and her main areas of study include the Asian diaspora and global China. 

ASAM has hired three professors and two affiliated faculty. Hardeep Dhillon, Bakirathi Mani, and Tahseen Shams — whose expertise is in history, English, and sociology, respectively — will join the department as professors. Emily Ng, who studies anthropology, and Linda Pheng from the Graduate School of Education will become affiliated professors. 

Dhillon is currently an Assistant Professor in Asian American History and a Penn Migration Initiative Executive Committee member. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Bar Foundation and earned her doctorate at Harvard University in History. 

Dhillon’s research is focused on the history of immigration to the United States as well as laws and legal practices that shape immigrant lives. Her upcoming book, "America’s Modern Immigrant Family," studies the legal construction of the modern immigrant family through the lens of Asian American history. 

Mani is the Penn Presidential Compact Professor of English. She earned her Ph.D. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University, an M.A. in Modern Indian History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a B.S.F.S. in Non-Western History and Diplomacy from Georgetown University. She also taught in the Department of English Literature at Swarthmore College and founded the Tri-College Asian American Studies Program.

Mani has authored two books: "Unseeing Empire: Photography, Representation, South Asian America" and "Aspiring to Home: South Asians in America."

Shams, Assistant Professor of Sociology, earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2018. 

Shams studies how migration and global inequalities affect immigrants, particularly those from Muslim-majority countries in the West. She has authored the book "Here, There, and Elsewhere: The Making of Immigrant Identities in a Globalized World."

Launched in 1996, the department aims to contextualize the history, experiences, and contributions of Asian immigrants and persons of Asian ancestry in North America and the diaspora. ASAM celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2022.