Chao Center for Asian Studies


Sonia Ryang, Director, T.T. & W.F. Chao Professor of Asian Studies 

Trained as a social anthropologist, Sonia Ryang’s interest in Asian Studies embodies a broad range of academic fields including history, literature, and philosophy. Her publications include six single-authored books, four edited and co-edited books, and over fifty peer-reviewed journal articles. Her most recent publications are Reading North Korea: A Ethnological Inquiry (Harvard, 2012) and Eating Korean in America: Gastronomic Ethnography of Authenticity (Hawaii, 2015).

More about Sonia Ryang here.


Haejin E. Koh, Associate Director 

Haejin E. Koh joined the Chao Center in 2012. She brings with her a diverse background combining a PhD degree in Korean linguistics, an MA degree in Asian Studies, and a BS degree in electrical engineering. Haejin’s experience includes over 15 years in higher education, both teaching and administration, and her research interests focus on linguistic politeness and honorifics. She currently serves as an Associate and a First-Year Mentor at Brown College and as the Sponsor of the Korean International Students Association (KISA) and the Korean Graduate Students Association (KGSA).



Steven W. Lewis, Associate Director 

Steven W. Lewis is Professor in the Practice and Associate Director of the Chao Center for Asian Studies at Rice, and the Fellow in Asian Studies, Director of the Transnational China Project and faculty coordinator of the Jesse Jones Leadership Center Summer in D.C. Policy Research Internship Program at the at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. He is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Sociology. His research explores the influence of media in new public spaces in Asian cities, and the development of privatization experiments, energy policy, and central-local government fiscal relations in China and other transition economies.



Hae Hun Matos, Center Coordinator
Phone: 713-348-2858

Hae Hun Matos is the Center Coordinator at the Chao Center for Asian Studies.  She earned her BS degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) and her AAS degree in Sign Language Interpreting at Houston Community College.  Her past work experiences include teaching English in South Korea and managing office operations at UHD’s Academic Advising Center.


Amber Szymczyk, Web Publication Coordinator 
Phone: 713-348-2778

Amber Szymczyk is the Web Publications Coordinator for the Chao Center for Asian Studies and the Assistant Director for Chemistry in the Office of STEM Engagement. She is also a Brown College Resident Associate. She holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Louisiana State University and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M. Prior to her work at Rice, she taught pre-AP and AP Chemistry at Austin High School in Fort Bend ISD for several years.


D. Mitra Barua, Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies 
Phone: 713-348-4597

With this appointment at the Chao Center for Asian Studies, Mitra examines the contested history of the North Bay of Bengal region crisscrossed by three national boundaries: India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. With a focus on the Buddhist-Muslim relationship in the Chittagong-Rakhine area, he investigates how a linguistically diverse, culturally tolerant, and religiously syncretic society has been plagued by ethnic and religious bigotry, intolerance, and violence. This investigation is an extension of Mitra's ongoing project on the history of Buddhism in extended Bengal. His forthcoming monograph, Seeding the Dhamma into Maple Leaves (McGill and Queen University Press, Kingston, Canada), discusses the intercultural and intergenerational transmission of Buddhist beliefs and practices among Sri Lankan immigrants in Toronto, Canada.


Brianne Donaldson, Bhagwaan Mahavir/Chao Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in Jain Studies 
Phone: 713-348-4177

Brianne Donaldson is a public ethicist exploring the intersection of Indian and western metaphysics, critical animal studies, and religion and science. The goal of this work is to rethink relations among plants, animals, and people; and to undermine systematic violence toward excluded populations. She is the author of Creaturely Cosmologies: Why Metaphysics Matters for Animal and Planetary Liberation (Lexington Books, 2015) - examining the world visions of Jainism and process-relational philosophy, Beyond the Bifurcation of Nature: A Common World for Animals and the Environment (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), and The Future of Meat Without Animals (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016); and she has authored chapters on Jain ethics and several op-eds on Jainism in the US. She has served as assistant professor at Monmouth College (IL) and Claremont School of Theology (CA). More information about Brianne can be found on her website:


Brendan A. Galipeau, Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies 
Phone: 713-348-5943

Brendan A. Galipeau completed his PhD in anthropology in 2017 at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. His research interests and publications focus on environmental and economic anthropology of hydropower development, agricultural practices, and non-timber forest products in Southwest China. He is currently at work on a book manuscript under contract with the University of Washington Press, tentatively titled Crafting a Tibetan Terroir: Wine Production, Identity, and Landscape Change in Shangri-La, China. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including Human Ecology, Himalaya: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies, and Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment.


Han Sang Kim, Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies 
Phone: 713-348-4172

Han Sang Kim received his PhD in historical sociology from Seoul National University. He is working on two concurrent projects. One is to develop his dissertation, Uneven Screens, Contested Identities: USIS, Cultural Films, and the National Imaginary in South Korea, 1945-1972, into a book manuscript on knowledge, culture, and identity in the postwar division system in East Asia. For the other project, he is writing a manuscript on the association between cinema and transportation mobility in 20th century Korea, based on his pre-doctoral research, to complete as his first book in English. He has developed and taught a number of courses on modern Korean culture at UC San Diego and Boston University.

Mailing Address
Rice University
6100 Main St., MS-475
Houston, TX 77251-1892
Physical Address
Rice University
Mechanical Laboratory Bldg
Rooms 205 - 210
Phone: 713-348-5843
Fax: 713-348-6129
Rice University

6100 Main, Houston, Texas 77005-1892

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1892, Houston, Texas 77251-1892

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