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Month: January 2016

My Fulbright Year in the Oregon State University

     First of all, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Fulbright Program for offering me the generous research grant to conduct a joint research program with Professor Jimmy Yang at Oregon State University (OSU). Not only did this unique opportunity advance my professional knowledge and research skills, it also allowed me to experience U.S. life and culture in a deeper way. This article briefly describes my research as well as cultural experiences during my stay as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at OSU.     Research Experience      Prof. Yang joined the Oregon State University faculty in 2003 and established a good reputation by publishing research papers in mainstream finance journals. Prof. Yang comes from Taiwan and keeps a close connection with Taiwanese scholars in the finance field. I came to know Prof. Yang when he attended a conference held by my department at National Taiwan University. At that time, I proposed to work with him to implement a research project at OSU in the hope of further improving my expertise, knowledge, and research skills. Prof. Yang not only agreed with my proposal, but also encouraged me to do so. I kept this in

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Reflections on Palace Plays in the Digital Age

        During the past academic year (2014-2015), I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Chinese Literature and Philosophy at Academia Sinica. Academia Sinica is a tremendous place to do research—it is such a vibrant intellectual community, with near-constant talks, symposia, conferences, and exhibitions. I was particularly excited to make use of their extensive library collections, which contain many rare manuscripts that cannot be found elsewhere.         In the last couple months of my fellowship, I began preliminary research on a new project that emerged from my dissertation research. In my dissertation, I discuss the plays attributed to what is often referred to as the Suzhou School. This circle of playwrights—many of whom were friends or acquaintances and frequently engaged in co-writing and co-editing practices—was active in the late Ming and early Qing periods, and their plays were widely performed throughout the Jiangnan region. The surviving texts attributed to this circle are generally of two kinds.  Most common are undated manuscripts, copied in a hand that is utilitarian at best and downright sloppy at worst. The overall appearance of these texts—the frequent homonymic errors, the inclusion of stage directions, etc.—indicates that these were probably used in some sort of performance context,

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For What Can We Hope? Concrete Houses and Hopeful Indigeneity in ‘Amis Country

Where is This Stairway Going?        Nearby my residence in ‘Atolan, a Taiwanese Indigenous Communityon Taiwan’s East Coast, there is a simple, flat-roofed house. The house, constructed of steel bar reinforced concrete, resembles nearly any other solafo, or concrete slab, house you might see around this town, which perches on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Sand for mixing the concrete likely came from a stream mouth not too far north of here, and the house required no outside contractors: men who had worked construction abroad–some in Japan, others in Singapore or even the Arabian Peninsula–gathered to assist the house’s owners as they made their bold step into modernity. The family had previously lived in a bamboo and thatch house, as had their ancestors for generations. Most passersby do not give this flat-roofed house a second glance. But when you walk into the house, it is hard not to notice a staircase between the living room and kitchen.        As for the staircase? It waits for a future second floor.        In 1978, after three precarious years in Taiwan’s far ocean fishing fleet, the husband of the house’s owner finally returned home. Like most

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Fulbright Reflections: Forging New Connections in Taiwan

In many ways, Taiwan is very familiar to me: I have traveled through most of its cities, have many Taiwanese friends, and have worked here previously as a visiting researcher. I enjoy the sights, sounds, people, places, and most aspects of life here. Of course, there are everyday challenges: finding the best deals on cell phone plans, traveling to more remote areas without Chinese fluency, etc. Overall, however, my greatest challenge in utilizing my Fulbright grant concerns the research itself. During the course of my Fulbright fellowship, I have met hundreds of people from all walks of life, including Taiwanese faculty, students, museum curators, and many, many others. Part of the reason Fulbright is such a wonderful program is that an explicit part of your work here is the opportunity to truly connect with people here, both in a professional and personal capacity. Fulbright opens many doors that would otherwise be closed to you as a visitor or company employee here; so make the best use of this opportunity as possible for your sake, the sake of your Taiwanese colleagues, and the relationship between the USA and Taiwan! Unlike most other grantees, I specialize in bioengineering for making biofuels, biochemicals,

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Modeling the impact of dam removal on conservation of the Formosan landlocked salmon

           The Chichiawan Stream and its tributaries in central Taiwan are the last refuge of the critically endangered Formosan landlocked salmon Oncorhynchus formosanus.  Over the past few decades, 11 check dams have been constructed in these streams to reduce sediment transport and to prevent the collapse of riverbanks. However, these dams are thought to be a primary factor in the habitat degradation that has led to a decline in salmon abundance. The dams have impacted the salmon by creating reproductive isolation, by reducing the number of accessible large boulders to provide refuge during typhoons, and by preventing salmon from returning upstream after being flushed downstream during typhoons. In addition, the sand and gravel that accumulate due to dam construction can damage salmon eggs. Typhoons, occurring primarily in spring and summer months, are a key factor in salmon population dynamics, and the salmon have adapted to seasonal typhoons in their natural habitat. However, dams have altered their natural habitat, limiting the salmon’s ability to survive typhoons. The salmon abundance began to decline in the 1960s, reaching as low as 200 individuals by 1984. The abundance has increased to over 1,200 in recent years, but the salmon have

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Taiwan’s Themes

     There is a theme of themes in Taiwan. Shopping areas are organized by theme, and restaurants are known by their brand. You can find numerous electronics shops and a five-story building dedicated to computers, cameras, cell phones, videogames, and their respective accessories on Bade Road. For everything related to cameras, Boai Road has been the popular location for over forty years. But if you’re looking for a professional photographer instead, then the streets around Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall offer many options.         The themes don’t stop here—the busiest MRT stations in Taipei all have their own art installations, galleries, or murals designed by different artists. Even different cities in Taiwan have their own local specialty, whether it is a specific dish like oyster pancakes or the regional dessert for which that region has been made famous (such as the cow tongue cookies in Yilan or the many peanut candies of Jinmen). Taiwan is a collage of different areas, districts, shops, restaurants, and historical sites that have developed unique defining characteristics and distinct identities.          There is a ubiquitous theme—found all over the island—that is quickly gaining momentum and manifesting itself in new ways.

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Santa on Small Kinmen

    On December 25th, I celebrated Christmas without my family for the first time. I felt a little uncomfortable, and a little homesick. I’m teaching English on a smaller island off the small island of Kinmen in Taiwan. Never before had I been asked to work during the holidays, and I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to manage both my responsibilities to plan Christmas events for my students and to celebrate with my family.      Rather than decorating the Christmas tree and drinking eggnog at home, I was carefully honing my social juggling skills. I expected to work through a week of stressful Christmas plans and performances, while missing the opportunity to relax and appreciate the Christmas season.  Thankfully, I was wrong. The week of December 25th was filled with Christmas cheer and storybook surprises. One of those surprises is below…     On Wednesday the 23rd, Jhuohuan Elementary School teachers and staff, while mostly non-Christian, gathered for our annual Christmas party.  By chance, that day also happened to be the last day of alternate military service for one of our great assistants, Yu-Ming. In preparation for our party, I dressed up as Santa Claus, and

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