I’m Sophia Chen: current physics graduate student, Chinese-American, Sinophile, amateur brewer, ham enthusiast, mincer of words. I graduated from Oberlin College in 2012, and currently I’m in a Ph.D. program at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where I take classes in fundamental physics, but my research involves solar energy.

From September 2012 to July 2013, I spent ten months in China–mostly in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province–on a Fulbright scholarship to learn about coal in China.  I ended up studying Shanxi Province’s sulfur dioxide reduction since 2005.  This project allowed me to take many field trips to coal- and environment-related sites, such as coal mines, power plants, and wastewater treatment centers. In addition to my research, I taught classes relating to environmental awareness to various schools around northern China in Shanxi, Liaoning, and Beijing.

I also had the opportunity to immerse myself in modern China.  I grew up in a first-generation Chinese-American household, and during these ten months my existence in China would often develop trippy parallel-universe elements as I navigated the world of villagers and urbanites, traditional and western, Chinese and expats.  It allowed me to understand better my heritage and the Chinese-American identity in China, and I had a lot of practice filling cultural gaps.

This blog is a hodge-podge journal about my ten months in China.


For the record, this is my personal blog and does not reflect the views of Fulbright program, the U.S. government, or any of your female relatives.

For my culinary excursions, please see Cookery Pokery.

Click here to get your head out of the gutter about the title of this blog.


One comment

  1. Camila Pastorelli

    Dear Sophie,
    How are you?
    My name is Camila and I work at Brazilian NGO of photography ImageMagica.
    Since 2008 we’ve started a worldwide documentary called Life Project (www.imagemagica.org/lifeproject) that intents to find initiatives related to access to health and health promotion. I would contact you, once we’re going to China this May and pollution is one of our themes. I’ve read your post about Linfen and would like to have more information about the city.
    I’ll let my email below, ok?
    Thank you!
    All the best,

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