ASU student excels in legal analysis, solutions

January 6, 2014

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

It’s fair to say that Jeremiah Chin is not one to shy away from an intellectual challenge. The 26-year-old ASU student is simultaneously completing two graduate programs – a doctoral degree in justice and social inquiry in the School of Social Transformation and a juris doctor in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law.  Jeremiah Chin outside Wilson Hall on the ASU Tempe campus Download Full Image

“It sounded like a good idea at the time,” jokes the soft-spoken Chin, when asked about his decision to pursue the demanding joint-degree option. “Actually, I can see the bleed-over in most courses. Civil procedures, torts and even contracts issues are discussed in justice studies courses. And the 'Theoretical Perspectives on Justice' doctoral course and the 'Critical Race Theory' law class both balance legal and theoretical perspectives. So the degrees are supplementing each other pretty well.”

Chin is committed to leveraging law to achieve social justice, planning to first practice law in the public interest realm. “I’d like to practice with an organization focused on racial justice work, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, or maybe doing NAACP law work,” he says. “Eventually I’d like to go on to teach at a law school.”  

It’s a path that Chin has been forging since his undergraduate days at the University of Utah, where, as a social justice major, his interests already included legal theory and cultural criticism and, as a first-year student, he began working as a research associate in the Center for the Study of Empowered Students of Color. (The Utah center was then directed by Bryan Brayboy, who continues to be a mentor to Chin, now director of the Center for Indian Education at ASU and Borderlands Professor of Indigenous Education and Justice in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ School of Social Transformation.) 

Chin’s early professionalization has also been shaped by his involvement with the national LatCrit (Latina and Latino Critical Legal Theory) collective. The organization highlights Latina/o – and other traditionally subordinated communities’ – concerns and voices in legal discourse and social policy. 

By his sophomore year, he was engaged in student activism on a range of justice issues, as well as intellectual analysis and critique of the political and cultural milieu in which student activists, especially those of color, experience justice work. His participation in a fall 2006 LatCrit conference panel on this topic led to his co-authorship of a 21-page article published in the Nevada Law Review the following summer. 

Chin next attended LatCrit in 2011 as an ASU graduate student, with the help, he says, of ASU professor Mary Romero and Brayboy. The paper he delivered there, “What a Load of Hope: The Post-Racial Mixtape,” was eventually published in the California Western Law Review.  

“Jeremiah wrote a brilliant analysis of how recent legal constructions of race, rooted in the rhetoric of colorblindness and individual rights, are dismantling the legal achievements of the civil rights movement,” Brayboy explains. “Symptomatic of the shifting legal rhetoric, for example, is a Supreme Court opinion citing Brown v. Board of Education to support the de-integration of public schools.

“As a mentor, I can say it’s been thrilling to see this young man develop his voice as a scholar ... a powerful voice in illuminating important legal and justice issues of our time.” 

This fall, the above observation was validated in an international arena, when Chin earned LatCrit’s highest student honor; in October he was named the 2013 LatCrit Student Scholar and given Best Paper honor. The competition is open to students pursuing intellectual agendas in race, ethnicity and the law, who are writing in English in any accredited degree program in the world. A portfolio of material, including a previously unpublished paper, statement of purpose and vita is judged by a distinguished faculty panel.

Chin's paper "Red Law, White Supremacy: Cherokee Freedmen, Tribal Sovereignty, and the Colonial Feedback Loop" was a standout among this year’s submissions, as was his documented involvement in social justice activism. In the paper, he looks to alternatives outside federal courts to resolve complex disputes arising from a 2007 Constitutional amendment passed by the Cherokee Nation that essentially terminated citizenship of some 2,800 living descendants of Cherokee Freedmen (slaves once owned by Cherokee citizens). 

“My research explores a potential avenue of change that would recognize the Cherokee Freedmen as Cherokee citizens, without relying on a federal court decision. A court decision for the Freedmen would override the sovereignty of the Cherokee Nation and set a dangerous precedent in federal Indian law,” Chin explains. “A victory for the Cherokee Nation would ensure their sovereign status, but perpetuate Black disenfranchisement.” 

His solution harnesses the power of Article 6 of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIP), which asserts that “every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.”

“I suggest expanding the conceptual understanding of Indigineity to apply to Cherokee Freedmen and applying DRIP through Cherokee courts,” writes Chin. “The Cherokee Nation has consistently expressed support for DRIP and urged its application in the United States. If the Cherokee Nation is serious about making DRIP a real manifestation of the power of Indigenous peoples, why not set the example? 

“The first step is recognizing that the Freedmen are Indigenous peoples, regardless of Indian blood quantum. As the direct, traceable descendants of freed slaves, Freedmen are peoples who did not immigrate to the United States, but were forcibly taken from their ancestral lands and enslaved by the United States, the Cherokee Nation and other sovereigns. While Freedmen may or may not be ‘Indian’ in the U.S. federal sense, they are Indigenous in the international, historical sense as peoples who ‘have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources,’ thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests.” 

Chin developed the paper in professor Rebecca Tsosie's law course on Critical Race Theory and he's integrating the research into the master's-in-passing thesis he's completing in the Justice and Social Inquiry doctoral program. 

The prestigious award covered airfare, registration, meals and lodging to attend the 2013 LatCrit Biennial Conference and faculty development workshop in Chicago in October. It also includes the assignment of a LatCrit faculty member to offer mentoring as Chin further develops the paper for publication.

“I am so proud of Jeremiah for earning this award,” says Patty Ferguson-Bohnee, faculty director of the Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and Chin’s coach for the 2012 moot court competition. “Jeremiah is one of the most persuasive oral advocates in the Indian Legal Program. His strong advocacy, superb analytical skills and intimate knowledge of federal Indian law resulted in his team advancing to the semi-final round at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court competition.” 

In addition to juggling his coursework and extracurricular interests, Chin also holds a graduate assistantship in the Center for Indian Education, working with Brayboy to research a variety of issues related to Indigenous education, law and conceptions of sovereignty. 

“I’m currently reviewing articles, book chapters and other publications that relate to colorism,” he explains. “We’re looking at how race and also basic differences in appearances in skin tone impact American Indian students’ experience in society in general, and in educational settings specifically. For example, we’re digging into old Senate hearings to see how American Indians were talked about by those in power and to see what kinds of benefits they did or didn’t receive in terms of education or in the way they were treated in general.”

Brayboy continues to appreciate the intellectual rigor and range of perspectives Chin brings to his work. 

“Jeremiah is a rare talent,” Brayboy says. “He is well-read, deeply thoughtful and brings an intellectual engagement to issues of justice that is uncommon. His recent LatCrit award corroborates what we have known to be true for a long time: Jeremiah Chin is very, very bright, committed to issues of justice and is primed to be an advocate for those in our society who need a champion.”

Maureen Roen

Director, Creative Services, College of Integrative Sciences and Arts


First International School of Biomedical Diagnostics breaks new ground

January 7, 2014

Two innovative universities – Arizona State University and Dublin City University (DCU), Dublin, Ireland – are joining forces to create a new International School of Biomedical Diagnostics, which will offer the first degree program of its kind. The initiative is at the cutting edge of establishing diagnostics as an independent discipline.

Diagnostics are at the center of health care innovation today. They are involved in more than 60 percent of clinical decision-making and the industry employs more than 3.5 million people worldwide. Diagnostics are critical to personalized medicine – the process of targeting drugs to those for whom they will be most effective. International School of Biomedical Diagnostics Download Full Image

The new school’s U.S. and European bases are home to diagnostic research centers in each region. In the United States, Arizona is a growing academic and industrial hub for diagnostics. The state is home to the largest U.S. diagnostics laboratories and nonprofit institutes, as well as innovative diagnostic companies such as Ventana Medical Systems. ASU is a leader in the field, with its Virginia G. Piper Center for Personalized Diagnostics and the recently established National Biomarker Development Alliance.

In Ireland, DCU hosts the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute (BDI), a world-class multidisciplinary research institute focused on the development of next-generation point-of-care biomedical diagnostic devices. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, the BDI addresses major clinical challenges informed by the partnership of clinicians, scientists and industry. Building on ASU’s strong partnership with DCU, and their work with Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., this initiative is at the cutting edge in establishing diagnostics as an independent discipline.

“This school has been designed and implemented as a result of ASU’s partnerships with Dublin City University and Ventana Medical Systems,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “This is a tremendous example of how higher education is being transformed on a global basis through new technology-enabled collaborations. The school will have a huge impact on personalized medicine, as well as lowering health care costs and focusing on earlier disease detection and on wellness rather than illness.”

“The school is being launched at a critical time in health care, worldwide,” said Mara G. Aspinall, president and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, Inc., a member of the Roche Group. “Now is the time for diagnostics to be recognized as an independent and distinct discipline. With the significant advances in technology, diagnostics play a critical role in every aspect of the health care system – from pharmaceutical drug development to patient treatment.”

The new school will draw from several assets of each institution. At DCU, the school will build upon the award-winning Master of Science in Biomedical Diagnostics program based at the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, and upon expertise from its faculties of Science and Health, Engineering and Computing and DCU Business School. Pending approval from the Arizona Board of Regents, the ASU school will involve faculty from the Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Health Solutions, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, W. P. Carey School of Business and Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes. The initiative will also leverage the expertise of the National Biomarker Development Alliance, led by ASU.

“This is an important and exciting development of global significance," said DCU President Brian MacCraith. "The field of diagnostics is changing rapidly, and education programs must keep pace with developments. By combining the expertise and geographical context of ASU and DCU, and by collaborating with industry partners such as Ventana, we will be in a strong position to provide programs that are always at the cutting edge.”

Classes begin in fall 2014. Degrees will be offered by ASU and DCU. The program will employ a blended learning approach, adopting online and face-to-face elements. Students also will be offered the opportunity to get involved in research or industry immersion programs, as well as internship experiences at both sites.

“The creation of this international school will allow students the unique opportunity to gain knowledge and expertise in a distinct discipline from two universities whose commitment to quality education is unwavering,” said Robert E. Page, ASU provost. “Through our collaborative work with DCU, we are able to reach more students to better prepare those who are looking to expand their education and prepare for careers in biomedical diagnostics.”

The first degree offered will be an international Master of Science in Biomedical Diagnostics with shared curriculum and courses offered by both universities. The academic programs will attract students from a mix of recent college graduates and those working in industry wanting to further their careers.

“This is a very exciting development," said professor Richard O’Kennedy, chair of the biomedical diagnostics degree program for DCU and scientific director of its Biomedical Diagnostics Institute. "Our award-winning Master of Science in Biomedical Diagnostics is already creating the right type of graduate for the fast-growing medical device industry. This international collaboration will enhance the learning experience for students, creating highly qualified graduates for the global diagnostics industry.” 

Four core curriculum areas will be the foundation of the school, covering the biomedical diagnostics field. They include the:

Technology of Diagnostics, which will explore instrument and assay development, biomedical engineering and diagnostic product development

Science of Diagnostics, which will focus on the underlying bioinformatics and biostatistical analysis, clinical trial design, regulatory systems and the technology behind imaging, pathology, molecular and sequencing technology

Business of Diagnostics, which will encompass public and private health care finance and reimbursement, and personalized health care, including companion diagnostics

Application of Diagnostics, which will be taught through case studies on critical diagnostics-related issues, including bioethics, clinical utility, intellectual property, smart systems, and modality integration and systems analysis

“There is a significant global need for well-trained people in the workforce focusing on these areas of health care, as well as filling the needs of people already in the industry who can augment their skills and be effective in the field of personalized medicine,” said Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, senior vice president of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. “The new International School of Biomedical Diagnostics fits our goal of building global collaborations around topics that have a profound impact on humanity.”

Panchanathan added that the international school is expected to have 100 students per year within its first five years.