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Talk and Discussion with David Asai (PhD '80). Race Matters: Diversity and Inclusion in Science

Monday, April 10, 2017
4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location: Beckman Institute Auditorium

The Center for Teaching, Learning, & Outreach and the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering are delighted to welcome Caltech Alumnus, David J. Asai (PhD '80), Senior Director of Science Education at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, back to campus!

Please join us for one or both of these opportunities to interact with Dr. Asai:


Monday, April 10:


4:00 - 5:00 PM Talk:
Race Matters: Diversity and Inclusion in Science
Beckman Institute Auditorium

5:30 - 7:00 PM Discussion:
Informal chat with Dr. Asai about his experiences and perspectives, open to the Caltech community
Caltech Center for Diversity
RSVP requested for dinner


About David Asai:

David Asai grew up on Maui, and it was therefore exciting for him to spend the summer before his high school senior year at the University of Hawai'i, living in a dorm in a big city on a different island and playing in a biochemistry lab that was one of the pioneers in automated protein sequencing.  What was important about that experience was that it helped David realize that doing science is not a "nine to five" job in which there is already a known answer, but rather is an immersive lifestyle in which a person has the privilege of asking open-ended questions and continuously figuring out what to try next.  

As an undergraduate majoring in chemistry at Stanford, David engaged in independent research in a biochemistry/genetics lab for all 12 academic quarters and 3 summers.  At Caltech, David had the incredible fortune of being formally advised by Charles Brokaw and spending most of his time in the lab of Ray Owen.  The work begun as a graduate student extended throughout his research career in which David and his group studied the structural and functional diversity of the family of dyneins.  

After two postdoctoral appointments—first at Caltech then at UC Santa Barbara—David moved to Purdue University where he was on the faculty for 18.5 years.  After Purdue, David was Stuart Mudd Professor of Biology at Harvey Mudd College for 5 years.  He served as Head of Biological Sciences at Purdue and Chair of Biology at Mudd.

In 2008, David moved to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute where he is Senior Director of Science Education.  His team at HHMI is responsible for a number of initiatives including the HHMI Professors, Gilliam graduate fellowships, Medical Research fellowships, EXROP, and the Inclusive Excellence grants to colleges and universities.  David serves on several advisory committees including the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology, the steering committee of Understanding Interventions, the AAAS Committee on Opportunities in Science (COOS), and the NIH Advisory Committee of the Director's Working Group on Diversity.

For more information, please phone 626-395-8427 or email

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