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Haotian Wu ’07 (Jiangsu, China) conducted research on life in Taiwan and Imperial Japan during the mid 19th and early 20th century, studying the rule of the Chinese Qing Dynasty and the history of Taiwan’s aboriginal peoples.

Results from the project have appeared in Journal of Asian Studies and through Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa. A book written by his mentor is planned for publication this year.

Wu collaborated with Paul Barclay, assistant professor of history, through Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program, in which students conduct research with faculty while earning a stipend. The program has helped to make Lafayette a national leader in undergraduate research. Many of the more than 160 students who participate each year share their work through articles in academic journals and/or conference presentations.

Over the course of a year, Wu augmented Barclay’s research by performing three important tasks. He translated old Chinese character compounds describing uses of plants, animals, and products found in the hills of Taiwan, allowing him access to texts not usually available to students. He investigated the Japanese trading-post construction and trade-volume system used in colonial Taiwanese trading posts. Lastly, Wu translated academic and classical Chinese passages into English, expanding his knowledge of Chinese authors.

“The research experience enriched me with many perspectives and interpretations on [Taiwan],” says Wu, who is pursuing B.S. degrees in physics and mathematics. “The most exciting aspect of the project is that I had an opportunity to learn about Taiwan’s past, which enables me to understand some of the contemporary issues in Taiwan from a historical perspective.”

Wu values the close student-mentor relationship he formed with Barclay, a disciplined scholar who expected excellence during the project.

“Working closely with Professor Barclay was really enjoyable,” he says. “I learned a lot from our discussions, which often went beyond what the research required.”

Barclay returns the praise.

“Haotian was a superlative assistant,” he notes. “He is not only competent, he is actually interested in history.”

Through the project, Wu honed his writing skills and learned to explain Chinese subjects to western cultures. Although Wu is unclear on what he would like to pursue, he plans to attend graduate school.

Wu is a McKelvy Scholar and president of Wine Society. He is a member of International Students Association, Math Club, and Physics Club. He graduated from Mahindra UWC of India.

Barclay has traveled extensively to Japan for research on topics such as Japanese colonialism in Taiwan. He is the author of “An Historian among the Anthropologists: The Ino Kanori Revival and the Legacy of Japanese Colonial Ethnography in Taiwan,” published in the journal Japanese Studies, and has written book reviews for Humanities and Social Sciences On-Line (H-Net) and Journal of Asian Studies. Barclay has presented at the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, the Mid-Atlantic Region Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, the Modern Japan Seminar hosted by Columbia University, and the American Historical Association Conference.

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Thirty-nine students were accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

Categorized in: Academic News