James Lai

Research Fellow

James S. Lai is an Associate Professor who holds a joint appointment with the Ethnic Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at Santa Clara University.  Dr. Lai served as the Director of the Ethnic Studies Program from 2008 to 2014. 

Dr. Lai received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Southern California (2000) and his M.A. in Asian American Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles (1992).  His teaching and research interests and specialties include U.S. racial and ethnic politics, U.S. immigration, Asian American politics, urban politics, community studies, and California state and local politics.  In 2011, Dr. Lai published his book, Asian American Political Action: Suburban Transformations (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers), which examines the demographic shifts and the rise of Asian American political incorporation in small to medium size suburbs throughout the continental United States.    Since 1992, Dr. Lai has served as the Associate Editor of the bi-annual publication National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac, the nation’s most comprehensive political guide on Asian American politics (UCLA Asian American Studies Press). 

Dr. Lai has commentated on race, immigration, and politics in state, national, and international media such as NPR’s “California Report” and “Forum,” the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, China Daily News, World Journal, the New York Times, and CNN.


Karthick Ramakrishnan

Research Fellow

Karthick Ramakrishnan is Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California, Riverside, where he also serves as Associate Dean of the School of Public Policy. He is also an Adjunct Fellow at Public Policy Institute of California.

Ramakrishnan directs the National Asian American Survey and is founder of AAPIdata.com, which seeks to make policy-relevant data on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders more accessible to a variety of audiences. He has written several books and articles on Asian Americans and immigrants more generally, and these can be found on his website.

Ramakrishnan has provided consultation to public officials at the federal and local levels, and has provided extensive news commentary by print, radio, and television.  He directs a UC-wide Asian American policy research program, and is an appointee to the California Commission on APIA Affairs.



Janelle Wong

Research Fellow

Janelle Wong is Director of the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland. She is also a core faculty member in the Department of American Studies.  She received her PhD from the Department of Political Science at Yale University.  Prior to joining the University of Maryland in 2012, she was at the University of Southern California in the Departments of Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity.

Wong is author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. The most recent is Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and their Political Identities (2011), based on the first nationally representative survey of Asian Americans’ political attitudes and behavior. Wong is also the author of the first Asian American voter mobilization field experiment, conducted in Los Angeles in 2004.  For that study and others, she partnered with local Asian American labor and advocacy organizations to evaluate their voter mobilization efforts.