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doi: 10.1111/imig.


The Ethnic Composition of Science and
Engineering Research Laboratories in the
United States
Zeynep Esra Tanyildiz*

The United States has been a top destination country for science and engineering (S&E) graduate education for foreign talent for many years. Despite the clear existence of foreign students
in the USA, relatively little is known about the factors influencing the flow of foreign students.
In this study, we examine foreign doctoral students in science and engineering, and test
whether “ethnic affinity” plays a role in the ethnic composition of research laboratories (in
what follows, “labs”) in US universities. In order to test this hypothesis, we conduct a web
search, and select 164 science and engineering laboratory web pages for analysis. Among
these 164 labs, 82 are directed by foreign-born faculty (Korean, Chinese, Indian or Turkish).
These 82 are matched with labs that are in the same department of the same university, but
directed by a native (US origin) faculty member. We find strong evidence that labs directed by
foreign-born faculty are more likely to be populated by students from the same country of origin than are labs directed by native faculty. The percentage of students working in a lab from
a nationality (foreign or native) is higher when they share nativity with the director. We seek
to draw attention to the effect of affinity on the ethnic composition of research labs at the
micro level that translates into the ethnic composition of the scientific community at the macro
level. Further, these results emphasize the role of lab directors in future enrolments, creating
scientific human capital, and contributing to the “brain circulation” phenomenon in the global

For many years, the United States (USA) has been a top destination country for foreign talent in
the area of science and engineering (S&E) doctoral education, largely due to better educational
opportunities and better financial support (Mazzarol and Soutar, 2001).
Relatively little is known, however, about the factors influencing the flow of these foreign students. The role of families and networks of friends is well documented in international migration
literature, but mostly in the context of the migration of low-skilled workers (see Massey et al.,
1993, among others). The “ethnic affinity” hypothesis has not been tested for these highly skilled
immigrants, even though selecting an institution of higher education in a foreign country poses the
same challenges associated with international migration (e.g. visa, work and study permits, return
policies) and adaptation (e.g. language barriers, cultural differences, academic differences).
* Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey, Ankara, Turkey.
© 2013 The Author
International Migration © 2013 IOM
International Migration Vol. 53 (1) 2015
ISSN 0020-7985

Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

but also play major roles in research production. International Migration © 2013 IOM . for example. Indian. or Turkish) if the lab director shares that foreign nationality than if the director is native born. Asian students have constituted the largest population of foreign students in the USA.7 per cent of American PhD degrees were earned by foreign-born students. of course. native-student enrolments are observed in institutions in which foreign-student enrolment increases are the largest. foreign graduate students constitute almost 60 per cent of first-author graduate students (Black and Stephan. in their analyses of counts of publications and number of citations for 100 research universities in 23 S&E disciplines. full-time S&E foreign graduate enrolments after the events of September 11. The idea. Chinese. Stuen et al. According to a report by the National Science Foundation. 33 percentage points more of the students working in a lab are Korean (or Chinese. Borjas (2004) argues that the steepest drops in white male. followed by a decrease in first-time. and in contributions to the “brain circulation” phenomenon in the global context. These results draw attention to the effect of affinity on the ethnic composition of research labs at the micro level. whereas the number of temporary foreign graduate students who are male increased (National Science Foundation. Several studies have documented the importance of foreign doctoral students to the American science community. On average. A study of 133 papers published in Science having a last author affiliated with a US university found that 53 per cent of the co-authors were foreign students or postdoctoral candidates. Foreign-born graduate students’ and scientists’ existence in the USA is. Foreign graduate and postdoctoral students are not only important in staffing university laboratories. Indian or Turkish) with 82 labs in the same department of the same university directed by a native (US origin) faculty member. and all but one discipline. these results emphasize the role of lab directors in future enrolments. Indian and South Korean students constitute almost half of the doctoral students in the USA (Stephan. “labs”). that decrease had reversed its course in all fields. the three (top. Currently. Chelleraj (2004) suggests that a 10 per cent increase in the number of foreign students would raise patents granted to universities by 6 per cent and non-university patents by 4 per cent. After three consecutive years of decline. Within the past three decades. The results are consistent across all four nationalities. total foreign enrolment increased by a modest 1 per cent in 2006 (Burns et al. 2010). Furthermore. that foreign students “crowd out” natives has received much attention. 47. The ethnic composition of these research labs offers an opportunity to test the impact of foreign-born faculty members on students from the same country of origin. Chinese. middle and bottom) tiers. We compare the ethnic composition of 82 S&E labs directed by foreign-born faculty (Korean.Ethnic composition of laboratories 51 Most graduate students in S&E start their training in university research laboratories (in what follows. in the creation of scientific human capital. Further.. Also. 2008). almost half a million foreign students are enrolled in US universities. the number of US citizen and permanent resident male graduate students decreased from 1993 to 2000. 2001. not without costs. By 2006. an affinity that also translates into the ethnic composition of the scientific community at the macro level. BACKGROUND AND THEORY Foreign students in the United States Foreign student enrolment dramatically increased during the 1980s and until the mid-1990s. (2008) find that foreign-born doctoral students make higher contributions (as measured by citations) to elite institutions as compared with citizen doctoral students. We find strong evidence that labs directed by foreign-born faculty are more likely to be populated by students from the same country of origin. 2009). © 2013 The Author. By 2006. 2004).

This effect is even stronger for native male students. where most graduate students in S&E start their training. We chose to examine S&E research labs for two particular reasons. 2003). Understanding the ethnic compositions of research teams at the research laboratory level provides a new layer to our understanding of ethnic communities in the USA. labs present a closed environment. native female enrolments held steady during the 1990s. Other countries are not only strengthening their S&E education. Aslanbeigui and Montecinos (1998) find that 45 per cent of foreign students from developing countries planned to stay for some time. respectively. but also producing more graduates each year (Freeman. the existence of more attractive job opportunities (higher-paying and with better working conditions) for native students can pull native-born college graduates towards more lucrative programmes (Bean and Brown. developments in other countries could influence the US dominance in attracting and keeping foreign talent. and the effects of lab directors as “active nodes” or initiators within those networks. Second. 2005. First. In addition. at times. There is also a significant difference in stay rates by students’ country of origin. We study university research laboratories. it is of policy interest to know whether ethnicity plays a role in determining the labs in which they work. Accordingly. and some of these labs are directed by foreign-born professors from the same country. 2005). 2005). 2008). enabling us to observe possible networks. Finn (2005) indicates that the proportion of foreign students staying in the USA for at least 2 years after receiving their degrees increased from 49 per cent for the 1989 cohort to 71 per cent for the 2001 cohort.52 Tanyildiz Although this information is consistent with the possibility that foreign students “crowd out” natives. students from home academic institutions may initiate contact with lab directors from their country of origin before formally applying for positions. International Migration © 2013 IOM . Thus. Foreign-born directors often continue to be in contact with their home academic institutions and. I suggest that an understanding of the ethnic linkages provides insights into the “brain drain” versus “brain gain” debate (Kerr. Many research labs are populated with foreign students. who are more sensitive to US labour market conditions than are foreign students (Bean and Brown. computer science and physical science graduates. China and India had very high stay rates. 15 per cent planned to stay permanently and another 15 per cent planned to go to a third country. a pattern not consistent with the “crowding out” argument. some authors point to other factors that could contribute to these results. research labs have a unique independent structure within the department. 2005). and become part of a “team” with fellow lab members. A recent study highlights the role of ethnic communities in the USA and their contribution to technology transfers to their home countries. provide information about open lab positions to potential students. Moreover. The percentage of foreign students staying in the country after completing their studies has also been increasing. the research lab is a good representation of a foreign student’s social environment. Likewise. Both foreign-born and native groups of females increased their enrolments from 2000 to 2003 (Oliver. at 96 per cent and 86 per cent. The stay rate is the highest among engineering. even in the face of simultaneous foreign-born female enrolment increases. the decrease in the US population in the 20–24 age cohort within the past decade contributes to the decrease in the total number of native-student enrolments (Bean. hire separate personnel. © 2013 The Author. therefore. The stay rates in 2001 were 40 per cent for Taiwan and 21 per cent for Korea. these two characteristics of research labs enable us to observe both the network effect in a general sense. The difference is remarkable among the top source countries. Ethnic scientific and entrepreneurial channels are found to be important for the transfer of both codified and tacit knowledge. because doctoral students spend a significant portion of their time at school. Among the temporary residents who received their PhDs in 1996. They are semi-autonomous groups within the university that receive separate funding and. 2009). In addition. Stephan and Sharon. Given the important role that foreign students play in research. For instance. However.

Meyer. Early studies regarded the flow of doctoral students from developing countries to developed countries as a “brain drain”. The networks that foreign students develop provide opportunities for friends and colleagues in their home countries. 2001. Portes and Sensenbrenner. contacts. know-how. Li et al. 2002. 2002). and trust. an interesting question to ask is whether foreign research laboratory directors are more likely to hire students from their home country than are other laboratory directors. As for foreign students.. financial support. Assuming that they still have ties with their undergraduate institutions. emotional solidarity. creating new opportunities for once peripheral regions of the world economy. as well as emotional support. 2002). physical attendance.Ethnic composition of laboratories 53 The network effect Recent studies address high-skill labour movements using a social network perspective (Khadria. Foreign student movements require specific attention in order to understand the internationalization of US higher education. Therefore. Khadria. International Migration © 2013 IOM . administrative assistance. Tanyildiz (2008) found evidence from focus group interviews with Turkish students at the Georgia Institute © 2013 The Author. 2001). 2001: 93) For foreign students. Vertovec. Portes and Sensenbrenner (1993) point out the varieties of structural and relational “embeddedness” in these networks (Meyer. Waldinger. social networks are crucial to finding accommodation. goods and services. 1993. 1996). The majority of foreign-born faculty members earn their graduate degrees in the USA after receiving their undergraduate education in their home country. Both the student and the faculty benefit from the easy flow of information that is a product of their shared culture. getting them admitted and offering them financial assistance. They routinely hire doctoral students directly. skills and capital. (Meyer. Saxenian (2002) calls this new dynamic “brain circulation”. 2001. a terminological shift has occurred that employs a global conception emphasizing the benefits that accrue to both the sending and the receiving ends. The role of the director in research laboratories The role of foreign-born faculty in the current context is noteworthy. Further. such faculty are likely to be important resources for students from the same country of origin who are applying to a doctoral programme in their respective departments. Trow (1977) suggests that the influences of graduate faculty can guide students’ future research and teaching during their entire careers. 2001. 2001. However. and social and economic information. 2005). job prospects. Social networks serve as a guiding source for foreign students throughout their education. As Meyer (2001) indicates: Connections with earlier migrants provide potential migrants with many resources that they use to diminish the risks and costs of migration: information about procedures (technical as well as legal). Along with the recognition that networks among skilled workers exist. Policymakers are also seeking ways to utilize a globally mobile workforce and cultivate the benefits of brain exchange and brain circulation among countries (Saxenian. Many of these faculty members direct research laboratories and play a role in recruiting students. These new transnational communities provide shared information. drawing attention to the role of ethnic networks in mobilizing information. these studies do not focus exclusively on foreign doctoral students. Faculty members also play an important role in graduate students’ lives. impacting how they think and do research. Some studies also suggest that the interpersonal ties of migrants continue to be effective after graduation in finding jobs either within the USA or back in their home country (Poros. because a significant number of foreign students move into the US labour force at a later stage. the patterns through which foreign students enter S&E labs also have an influence on the composition of the scientific labour force in the USA (Hugo.

we found the list of research labs and the names of the directors of those labs in that department. mechanical engineering. Korea or Turkey2 are not included in the sampling frame of this study. In science and engineering. The relationship between the graduate faculty and the graduate student in S&E is perfectly described by Fox (2003): [In S&E fields] scientific work and training revolve strongly on faculty–student interchange. we located their web pages and made sure that each was accessible. METHODOLOGY Sampling The sampling of this study begins with the 1993 NRC rankings of PhD-granting institutions. computer science. chemical engineering. physics.54 Tanyildiz of Technology that foreign students feel that their background is better understood by faculty from their country of origin and also feel more comfortable communicating with such faculty. foreign-born directors not only efficiently communicate with compatriots students. all of the departments had a functioning web page that enabled us to proceed to the next step. Data collection We used a systematic approach to identify the labs through our web search. chemical engineering and industrial engineering) and rank (top. materials engineering. aerospace engineering. Korean and Turkish. faculty and students are bound together potentially in research facilities and projects. economic and institutional environments of their adopted countries. International Migration © 2013 IOM . At the second stage. An © 2013 The Author. In our sample. We selected 110 departments from the list of 360 departments. On each department web page. The sample was stratified by discipline (biology. We then randomly selected two laboratories in each department. middle and bottom). we identified research laboratories directed by native (US origin) faculty1 and then labs directed by faculty from four specific foreign nationalities: Chinese. but also through their more abstract embeddedness in the social. This list constituted the sampling frame for the random selection at the next stage. electrical engineering. chemistry. Departments that did not have laboratories directed by faculty from any of the four nationalities were excluded from the sample. a multi-stage stratified random sample was constructed by drawing universities from the ranking lists of 12 S&E disciplines. in most cases. one from the list of labs directed by a foreign-born faculty member. funded through faculty as principal investigators on which students largely undertake daily work. 2003: 92) Another important role of foreign lab directors could be explained through the concept of “mixed embeddedness” (Kloosterman and Rath. At the initial stage. Thus. we looked under the “Research” tab where. This approach is particularly appropriate in the analysis of lab directors. Once we had obtained the list of departments in each university. At the first stage of the multi-stage sampling. (Fox. and one from the list of labs directed by native faculty member. Mixed embeddedness aims to understand the socioeconomic position of immigrants not only through their embeddedness in actual social networks. India. Indian. Lab directors from countries other than China. The methodology is explained in more detail below. we randomly selected an equal percentage of departments from each stratum. but also play a crucial role in students’ transitions into the scientific community in the USA. 2001). because universities provide a unique environment that enables them to engage simultaneously in both their ethnic and non-ethnic networks.

Next. Korean and Indian last names. In this specific study. However. Indian and Turkish doctoral students and faculty members are obvious groups to study for two reasons. was to search under the “Faculty” tab. we relied heavily on the “Most Common U. and lack of a comparable research lab with a native director. constructed by Melissa Data Corporation. and our searches on relevant web pages (such as foreign student association member lists). The most common reasons were lack of a research lab with a director from one of the four foreign nationalities. The NBER Patent Data File provided micro-records for all patents granted by USPTO from January 1975 to December 1999. we accessed each director’s personal web page. existing ethnic-name databases provide comprehensive guidance in predicting the origin of student and faculty names. Ethnic Surnames” from Kerr’s study (Kerr. To ensure the quality of our study. In our sample. This provided us with additional reliability in nationality identification. The same methodology was used to identify the nationalities of students. where we located the director’s research group with the corresponding list of group members. in which this information was missing. we identified one foreign director and one native director from each department. recognition by a student of the same nationality. Ethnic Surnames” is provided in the Kerr study. Korean. 97 per cent of the faculty whom we identified as Chinese. However. we had to exclude 23 pairs3 from the sample for a variety of reasons. therefore strengthening our certainty of country of origin. we benefited from the existence of large student groups from these four nationalities in an additional way: we were able to hire students from these four countries to review the student names in the sample and identify names from their own country. © 2013 The Author. for identification of the foreign students’ nationality. Consequently. Because there are large immigrant populations from these countries in the USA. Identification of nationalities Chinese.4 In the few cases where resumes or CVs did not exist. 2008). Further. these four are among the top ten foreign-student source countries in the USA. Kerr maps on to these inventor names an ethnicname database. (2001). students of these nationalities generally form student organizations at their universities. First. using the “date of update” notation at the bottom of the page where possible. we first identified the nationalities of the faculty that were listed as directors of research labs. unidentifiable nationalities. we looked for a recent posting or a recent publication. Indian or Turkish received their undergraduate degree in the corresponding home country. By making a random selection from these two lists.S. From the date on that post or publication. At this stage.S. The majority of departments had individual web pages for each research lab. lack of a list of lab members. originally designed for direct-mail advertisements. Because identification of faculty nationality was the key step in composing our sample. thus providing a list of members on their web pages that could be used as an alternative source for nationality identification. which we used less often. we relied on the CVs or resumes posted on their web pages.S.Ethnic composition of laboratories 55 alternative approach. Ethnic Surnames” provided in Kerr’s (2006) recent study. we checked how up-to-date the web pages that we used were. which we used as a reference for identifying Chinese. we approximated the last access date to that web page. enabling us to identify native lab directors and directors from our four nationalities. In this study. identification of these four nationalities is relatively straightforward compared with identification of other nationalities. In other cases. inaccessible lab web pages. unlike the faculty members. Korean. the author identifies the ethnicities of the inventors’ names contained in the NBER Patent Data File originally compiled by Hall et al. we asked foreign-student assistants to identify the nationality and then cross-referenced this identification with the list of “Most Common U. Second. A list of “Most Common U.5 Faculty members with common US first and last names were coded as “native” if they had received their undergraduate degree from a US institution. International Migration © 2013 IOM . not all students had resumes posted on the web pages.

However. aerospace engineering.074 affiliated students. materials engineering. electrical engineering. we were not able to locate labs in mathematics departments. The 164 labs had 1. matched with another 82 labs directed by native faculty within the same department in each university. 80 per cent of the Korean directors graduated from Seoul National University. We constructed the pairs by matching each lab directed by a foreign faculty member with another lab directed by a native faculty member within the same university and the same department. 19 per cent in the year before. The results in Table 1 show that the difference in the percentage of foreign students between the labs directed by foreign professors and the ones directed by native directors is 33. International Migration © 2013 IOM . discipline and the ethnic composition of that research lab. compared with labs directed by native directors. and 21 per cent of the Chinese directors from the University of Science and Technology in China. mechanical engineering.11. We were able to find foreign professors working on projects with doctoral students. mathematics. RESULTS We hypothesized that within the same university and department. This average was very similar for the labs directed by native faculty (6. we also examined the relationships among nationality. for a total of 164 cases. We tested the null hypothesis that there is no difference between the mean foreign student percentages in both labs. the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The mean percentage difference between the labs varies between 26 and 40. In this data set. we applied a paired sample t-test that examined the significance of this difference. only two had earned their undergraduate degrees in the USA. To test this hypothesis. we applied a paired t-test to 82 pairs of S&E research labs. institutional ranking. chemical engineering. 82 of which are directed by Chinese. Our sample provided 82 matched pairs. In the case of native directors. Our intent was to include physics. this is not surprising given the character of mathematical research. The © 2013 The Author.56 Tanyildiz Analyses The central question of this study is whether the percentage of foreign students from one specific country of origin in research labs directed by faculty with the same origin is higher than the percentage of students from that origin in research labs directed by native faculty. Seventyfive per cent of all the web pages had been updated within the past year. and 6 per cent slightly more than 2 years before. suggesting the existence of top-source institutions within these top-source countries. Data regarding the undergraduate degrees of foreign professors revealed one interesting result. biology.54) and for the labs directed by foreign-born faculty (6.44).5 (ranging between 1 and 35). The average percentage of foreign students in each lab was 58. The average number of students in each lab was 6. chemistry. In order to answer this question. whereas the rest had earned their undergraduate degrees in their home countries. Summary of data The data set consists of 164 S&E research labs. Harvard University and Cornell University were the most common undergraduate institutions. In addition to our main hypothesis.6 per cent (ranging between 0 and 100%). Korean. industrial engineering. Among the foreign lab directors. the percentage of students from a specific country of origin is higher in labs with a faculty member from the same country of origin. In retrospect. The majority of the web pages observed in this study were updated relatively recently. Indian or Turkish faculty. but they were never identified as groups or research labs. civil engineering and computer science. 57 per cent of the Indian directors from the Indian Institute of Technology.

the percentage differences (the difference between the percentage of foreign students in labs directed by a faculty from the same country of origin and the percentage of foreign students in labs directed by native directors) vary slightly according to the country of origin. students that qualify for the highest-ranked universities usually consider a limited number of institutions with similar rankings. as the assumption is that a foreign student who is qualified for acceptance to a top-ranked university would rely less on the benefits of networks. error: Mean Lower Upper (28.92 19. This is an expected result. Students from one country of origin are more likely to be in labs directed by a faculty member from the same country of origin.Ethnic composition of laboratories 57 TABLE 1 FOREIGN STUDENT PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RESEARCH LABS (FOREIGN – NATIVE DIRECTORS) Paired differences Mean difference Std error: Mean Lower Upper (33. the percentages of Indian students are more balanced between the native-directed and Indian-directed labs. © 2013 The Author.81 The mean difference represents the mean percentage difference of native students between foreign-directed labs and native-directed labs in the same departments of the same universities. On the other hand. Again. the highest mean difference is between the labs directed by Chinese faculty and those directed by native faculty. The reason might be due to Indian students’ better command of English compared with Chinese. **. Table 4(a) shows that the mean percentage differences between foreign faculty–directed and native faculty–directed labs were much higher in lower-ranked departments. suggesting that lab composition in the same departments at the same institutions is related to the ethnicity of the faculty. We conclude that the affinity effect is not exclusively the domain of the foreign-born. the hypothesis is that the percentage of students working in a lab from a nationality is higher when the students share the nationality of the director. International Migration © 2013 IOM . We find the mean percentage difference to be 29 points.67 26. regardless of the TABLE 2 NATIVE STUDENT PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RESEARCH LABS (NATIVE – FOREIGN DIRECTORS) Paired differences Mean difference Std. In other words. This is slightly lower than the mean percentage difference (of 33) for foreign students between foreign-directed labs and native-directed labs.03 38. As shown in Table 3 below. **.6 In this sample. result is significant at the 1 per cent level. we observe the student–director affinity effect to be greater in labs directed by Chinese directors than those directed by other nationalities.92)** 4. We also test mean percentage differences between labs directed by native professors and labs directed by faculty from one of the four countries studied.11)** 3. Significant at the 1% level. the smallest percentage difference is between the labs directed by Indian faculty and comparable labs directed by native faculty. Korean or Turkish students.32 The mean difference represents the mean percentage difference of foreign students between foreigndirected labs and native-directed labs in the same departments of the same universities.02 40. Significant at the 1% level. significant at the 1 per cent level (Table 2). As we can see in Table 3. Also.

Both results are significant at the 5 per cent level (Table 4(b)). significant at the 5% level. error 45 24 13 82 36.8 5. Significant at the 1% level.3 6.25 4.4 36.0 17. significant at the 5% level.3)* (33.4 20.9 70.42 The mean difference represents the mean percentage differences (also reported separately) of foreign students between foreign-directed labs and native-directed labs for each university ranking tier. error 40 19 20 3 82 55.0 14.1)** 4.6 TABLE 4 (B) THE DIFFERENCE IN FOREIGN STUDENTS’ PERCENTAGES ACROSS THE RANKING TIERS Middle Bottom Constant Coefficients Std. TABLE 4 (A) FOREIGN STUDENT PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES IN MATCHED LABS BY RANKING OF THE DEPARTMENT (FOREIGN – NATIVE DIRECTORS) Top Middle Bottom Total N Foreign mean (%) Native mean (%) Mean difference (%) Std.4 10.3 (25. **.1)** 5.4 17.4 7.01)** 7.8)** (27. we test whether the percentage differences of foreign students are similar across tiers.6 The mean difference represents the mean percentage differences (also reported separately) of foreign students between foreign-directed labs and native-directed labs for each nationality. for students applying to lower-ranked universities.4 0.4 45. The mean percentage differences are quite different among the S&E disciplines included in our sample (Table 5). Significant at the 1% level.9 3.81)* (26.3 (37. In the same vein.3 55. International Migration © 2013 IOM . existence of students or faculty from the same country of origin.9)** (35. networks might play a determining role in their selection of an institution.2 17.6 18.9 34.3 47. **.9)** (53.1)** (29.8 9.3 47. *.62)* (36.58 Tanyildiz TABLE 3 FOREIGN STUDENT PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES IN MATCHED LABS BY DIRECTOR’S COUNTRY OF ORIGIN (FOREIGN – NATIVE DIRECTORS) China India Korea Turkey Total N Foreign mean (%) Native mean (%) Mean difference (%) Std. *.8 3. The mean difference is highest among industrial engineering labs and lowest © 2013 The Author.6 6. error (19.44 9.1 14. Further.0)** (36.2)** (33. The results show that the percentage differences (between foreign-born–directed labs and native-directed labs) in the middle-ranked and bottom-ranked institutions are higher than those percentages in the top-ranked institutions.

5 44. On average.8 47.5 49.0 3.7 598 100.0 476 100.59 Ethnic composition of laboratories TABLE 5 FOREIGN STUDENT PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCES IN MATCHED LABS BY DISCIPLINE (FOREIGN – NATIVE DIRECTORS) Industrial engineering Electrical engineering Civil engineering Chemistry Materials engineering Biology Aerospace engineering Chemical engineering Physics Computer science Mechanical engineering Total N Foreign mean (%) Native mean (%) Mean difference (%) Std.9 53.2 3.5 14. One theory may be that ethnic networks are more visible in disciplines that require close faculty–student contact in project execution.9 7.5 6.4)** (35.1 10 11 16. The distribution of students among labs directed by foreign and native faculty is further detailed in Table 7.8 43.7 52.0 © 2013 The Author.0 33. in this sample.6 The mean difference represents the mean percentage differences (also reported separately) of foreign students between foreign-directed labs and native-directed labs for each discipline.7 19.0 54.8 13.1)* 9.6 11. **.1)* (27.0)** (51.9 6.0)* (37. Likewise.1)** 11. In addition. the common characteristics of projects in each discipline should be further examined.1)** (31. In order to explain this difference.3 375 62. a higher percentage of native students work with native faculty compared with foreign faculty.7 37. Significant at the 1% level. As shown in Table 6. we test the hypothesis that foreign students are more likely to work with a foreign director than are native students (Table 8).7 10. by student origin. the percentage of foreign students working with foreign faculty is higher than that of native students working with foreign faculty.3 8.074 students included in our sample. we looked at the 1.6 5.4 12.0 157 33.2 12. among chemical engineering labs.0 .5)** (40. This difference could be attributable both to students’ perceptions of working with a director from their country of origin (i. error 6 6 5 7 12 5 9 7 6 9 10 82 70.8)* (35.4)** (35. foreign student–foreign professor cases are observed 30 percentage points more than are native student–foreign professor cases.3 49.e. Finally.0 223 37.5 1074 100. feeling more valued and/or communicating better) and to the role TABLE 6 ORIGIN OF STUDENTS BY ORIGIN OF LAB DIRECTOR WORKING TOGETHER (BY COUNTS AND PERCENTAGES) Student Director Native Foreign Total Count % Count % Count % Native Foreign 319 67.3 (58.5 18.2)* (23. *. significant at the 5% level.2 (33.9 33.0 8.1 11.5 532 49.9 14.4 14.9 11. International Migration © 2013 IOM Total 542 50.

the distribution of foreign students is not similar across laboratories. 64 56 226 . 49 56 148 . respectively. Korean. . native students and all others. Indian and Turkish students. . Significant at the 1% level.30)** 0.22 0. . CONCLUSION US science and engineering (S&E) research labs directed by foreign-born faculty are much more likely to be populated by students from the same country of origin than are labs directed by native © 2013 The Author. 35 46 135 . the dissimilarity indices for Indian. we only know the nationality of the student when it is the same as that of the director. 49 per cent of the native students would need to move to another lab. For example. that network connections between the foreign student and the foreign-born lab director play in determining students’ placements. Another way of looking at the composition of S&E labs is to calculate dissimilarity indices for Chinese. 106 . Chinese and Korean students are 36 per cent. if a Korean student is observed in a lab directed by a Chinese faculty. 54 . In this sample. These percentages provide evidence of dissimilarity of foreign doctoral students among the laboratories. 31 per cent and 51 per cent. error difference Lower Upper (0.00 0. Figure 1 presents integration of foreign student groups within a research lab compared to native students. . 8 34 18 0 319 163 542 51 140 72 8 476 327 1. **. . In a similar manner. That is. TABLE 8 DIFFERENCE OF MEAN BETWEEN FOREIGN STUDENT – FOREIGN PROFESSOR AND NATIVE STUDENT – FOREIGN PROFESSOR CASES Mean difference Mean difference Std. International Migration © 2013 IOM . the native-Turkish dissimilarity index is 49 per cent. In each lab in the data set. This means that to make native and Turkish students evenly distributed across all labs. we have only identified three groups of students: those who are of the same origin as the director. .074 8 9 6 23 This table should be interpreted with caution.60 Tanyildiz TABLE 7 THE DISTRIBUTION OF STUDENTS IN LABS BY FACULTY ORIGIN (BY COUNTS) Director’s origin Student China India Turkey USA Other Total Korea China India Turkey USA Total 43 .41 The mean difference represents the mean percentage difference between foreign student–foreign professor cases and native student–foreign professor cases observed in the labs. That is. he or she is identified as “other foreign” rather than Korean.

as foreign lab directors have an advantage over their native colleagues in assessing the quality of students coming from their home country. Yet.) alone cannot explain the mechanisms through which these flows occur. given that directors play a significant role in staffing their laboratories. Studies seeking to explain foreign student flows should consider research labs as one of foreign students’ main “entry points” into the scientific community. which would activate future flows. are far from unstructured. Foreign students. to be sure. quotas etc. previous studies fall short in explaining how existing structures affect foreign student flows. as they are able to ask questions and clarify ideas much more easily in their own language. arguably. Relevant policies controlling student movements (related to work permits. The current structure of foreign-born scientists’ networks. which could lead to a better fit regarding skills needed in research labs. This pattern may increase the quality of foreign students. Rising percentages of foreign-born lab directors could translate into a changing ethnic composition of university research laboratories. Turkish students at the Georgia Institute of Technology find studying together for qualifying examinations. faculty. students still tend to interact with their compatriots at the initial stages of their scientific careers. They can interpret country-specific information (such as the quality of institutions attended and the characteristics of a prior work-place) more confidently.61 Ethnic composition of laboratories As compared to native students FIGURE 1 DISSIMILARITY INDICES FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS Turkish Korean Indian Chinese 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 The figure shows what percentage of students would need to move to another lab to make the foreign student percentages (from that nationality) evenly distributed across the labs. Although we cannot test how matching between the student and the faculty was done. we believe that some degree of networking could well be involved. making research labs transitional media that help students to integrate into the scientific community. International Migration © 2013 IOM . This pattern also suggests that. mobilizing foreign students from their country of origin and opening new channels for collaboration between their home institutions and US institutions. exchanging lecture notes for common courses. could be another important part of these explanations. have a steeper learning curve in becoming a part of the scientific community due to differences in language and culture. Foreign student flows. despite the increased number of foreign students in American universities. The percentage of students working in a lab from a specific nationality (foreign or native) is higher when they share nationality with the director. As Tanyildiz (2008) documents. © 2013 The Author. tutoring each other or simply discussing questions about their field easier among compatriots. Foreign-born faculty members appear to be active nodes of ethnic networks. Interacting with compatriots should provide foreign students with additional support to help absorb both tacit and codified knowledge at a faster rate.

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CA: 12–33. Ladenburger Diskurs “Migration”. APPENDIX AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF THE INSTITUTIONS Auburn University Brown University Carnegie Mellon University City University of New York Clemson University Columbia University Cornell University Florida Institute of Technology Harvard University Illinois Institute of Technology Iowa State University Johns Hopkins University Massachusetts Institute of Technology Michigan State University North Carolina State University Ohio State University Oklahoma State University Oregon State University Oregon Institute of Technology Pennsylvania State University Portland State University Princeton University Purdue University Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Stanford University State University of New York Binghamton State University of New York Buffalo Stony Brook University Texas A&M University University of California Berkeley University of California Davis University of California Los Angles University of California San Diego University of California Santa Barbara University of California Santa Cruz University of Cincinnati © 2013 The Author. Glenn. S. Ethnicity. Vertovec.E. UK: 342–362.64 Tanyildiz Trow. Jossey-Bass. 2002 Transnational Networks and Skilled Labor Migration.). Cambridge University Press. R. Teles (Eds). C. in D. and Alternatives. 2005 “Networks and niches: the continuing significance of ethnic connection”. Waldinger. M.und Karl Benz-Stiftung. 1977 “Departments as contexts for teaching and learning”. in T. Social Mobility and Public Policy: Comparing the USA and UK. International Migration © 2013 IOM . Cambridge. Academic Departments: Problems. Variations. McHenry (Ed.M. San Francisco. Ladenburg.M. Gottlieb Daimler. Loury and S.

Ethnic composition of laboratories University University University University University University University University University University University of of of of of of of of of of of Colorado Connecticut Delaware Houston Illinois Kentucky Michigan Missouri at Kansas City Texas Wisconsin Wisconsin Milwaukee © 2013 The Author. International Migration © 2013 IOM 65 .