August 2009 | By Jane Leung Larson
C-100 members aren’t the only prominent Americans of Chinese descent breaking barriers and making headlines.
We salute these extraordinary Chinese Americans—
Judy Chu has become the first Chinese American woman elected to Congress, filling the position in California’s District 32 (El Monte) of Rep. Hilda Solis, who was appointed Secretary of Labor. Joining the House Education and Labor Committee, Chu is a well-known Democratic politician in Southern California who has served on school boards, the Monterey Park City Council, State Assembly and State Board of Equalization. Although Chu won 62% of the vote, it turns out that the special election race was between two Chinese American women named Chu, with the Republican candidate Betty Chu, Judy Chu’s cousin by marriage. Chu’s biography can be found here. And listen to a July 22 interview with Chu on NPR’s “Tell Me More.”
Franklin Chang-Diaz is a plasma physicist and former shuttle astronaut who is experimenting with a new kind of ion engine that he hopes will power manned flight to Mars in just 39 days instead of six months. Chang-Diaz’s VASIMR (Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket) is now going through extensive testing at his Ad Astra Rocket Co. in Houston and Costa Rica. Chang-Diaz, who was born in Costa Rica, retired from NASA in 2005 and has been working on plasma rocket research for thirty years. View a video of the rocket and read about Chang-Diaz and his work in the New Scientist, July 24, 2009, “Ion Engine Could One Day Power 39-Day Trip to Mars.”