What happened: Neuroscientist Li Xiao-Jiang, who was terminated by Emory University along with fellow researcher and wife Li Shihua, says that the school fired them “simultaneously without any notice or opportunity for us to respond to unverified accusations” while they were traveling in China on May 16. Both scientists are American citizens, and said that Emory has also told four Chinese postdoctoral students who were working in their now-shuttered lab to leave the country within 30 days. “I have disclosed my Chinese research activity to Emory University each year since 2012,” Li Xiao-Jiang said.
Why it’s important: This is the second publicly known case of an institution firing National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded researchers over concerns about foreign involvement. Both sets of terminations have happened during a time of heightened concerns about racial profiling: In March, the couple along with other Emory researchers sent a letter to the university’s president warning her that “disturbing views and activities” at other American universities “also exist on the Emory campus, which negatively derides Emory faculty members and international visitors, especially those of Chinese origin.” Similarly, following Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center’s ousting five “Asian” faculty members, one researcher commented that “an increasingly xenophobic and isolationist” federal government might be behind the institution’s actions.