This essay examines the origins of the relationship between Choh Hao Li and the University of California, Berkeley. Li came to the United States from China in 1935 for graduate study at the University of Michigan, but ended up enrolling at Berkeley. Over the course of the next two decades, Li went from being a foreign graduate student in chemistry on a temporary visa to an internationally recognized leader in the biochemistry of endocrinology at the head of his own laboratory and a naturalized citizen of the United States. At what was otherwise a dark time for Americans of Chinese descent, Li was garnering adulation in the popular press. He was called the "master of the master gland" for his successes both in isolating and in synthesizing pituitary hormones. Specifically, the essay explores the making of the "master of the master gland" from the perspectives of the history of science and the history of race and migration in the United States, tracing the interplay among Li's scientific work, his migrations, his career aspirations, and his legal status in the United States. A Chinese intellectual cast adrift by the shifting geopolitics of World War II and the early Cold War, Li danced delicately along the margins of membership in American society during the 1940s, only arriving at what turned out to be his final destination after careful and protracted negotiations with officials of the U.S. government, with influential members of the international scientific community, and with representatives of the University of California, Berkeley.
Master of the Master Gland: Choh Hao Li, the University of California, and Science, Migration, and Race
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Benjamin C. Zulueta; Master of the Master Gland: Choh Hao Li, the University of California, and Science, Migration, and Race. Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 1 May 2009; 39 (2): 129–170. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/hsns.2009.39.2.129
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