By COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) — Universities across the nation say President Donald Trump's
ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries is disrupting vital research
projects and academic exchanges in such fields as medicine, public health
and engineering, with untold numbers of scholars blocked from entering the
years, schools in the U.S. have worked to widen exchanges with scholars in
the Middle East and especially Iran, known for its strength in math and
science. But many academics worry those bridges are now in jeopardy because
of the ban against Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen. Some
fear the U.S. will lose its standing as the world leader in research and
"It's terrifying," said Sarah Knuckey, director of the Human Rights Clinic
at Columbia Law School. "We're damaging international research, including on
issues like health and medicine."
Students in Knuckey's clinic have been working with a think tank in Yemen to
explore the health consequences of the country's civil war, inviting
scholars to lecture and planning a conference in New York this year. Because
of the travel ban, they are trying to move the event to Canada.
Research between the U.S. and the seven countries covers a wide range of
fields. According to the National Institutes of Health, U.S. and Iranian
researchers have teamed up to study cancer, heart disease, hepatitis and
Navid Madani, an HIV researcher at Harvard Medical School, said
collaboration with scientists in Iran has been crucial to her work. Much of
that cooperation is now in question. One of her counterparts in Iran was
scheduled to teach at Harvard this year but may be prevented from entering
"I've tried to balance my anger and despair with resolve," said Madani, who
was born in Iran and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. "This is something
that really has to be reversed."
Iranian researcher working on his Ph.D. in Italy was refused check-in at a
Milan airport Monday while trying to travel to California. Nima Enayati, 29,
had obtained a visa to conduct research on robotic surgery at Stanford
is rather disappointing to know that you will not be able at least
physically to have more collaboration with them," he said. "And we will see
how it is going to affect our work."
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, officials were planning
to welcome the first class of Iranian graduate students into a new
engineering program in partnership with the University of Tehran. Now it's
on hold because the students can't secure visas.
"These are the best and the brightest. They have made tremendous sacrifices
to be able to come to the United States," said Gil Latz, the university's
associate vice chancellor for international affairs. "In the stroke of a
pen, their future hopes and dreams are being questioned or brought to a
Overall, colleges and universities in the U.S. hosted about 17,000 students
from the seven banned countries last year, a fourfold increase over the past
decade. Of those here last year, more than 12,000 were from Iran.
of the students and researchers here are now stuck in the U.S., afraid they
won't be allowed back in if they leave to visit home or travel to academic
conferences. Others who were planning to come here are now blocked.
Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, a scientist from Iran, said he realized a
childhood dream when he received a cardiology fellowship at Harvard. He was
scheduled to arrive days after the travel ban was put in place, but found
that his visa is now suspended indefinitely.
only can say Iranians are really sad, depressed and somewhat angry," he said
in an email.
response to the ban, thousands of academics abroad have signed an online
petition boycotting academic conferences in the U.S. Some conferences are
being pressured to relocate outside America.
Meanwhile, dozens of college presidents have called on Trump to reverse the
"This is not only unbefitting a country built by immigrants on the ideals of
liberty and equality, but it is also a self-inflicted wound that will damage
the very innovation that lies at the root of our nation's prosperity," said
Angel Cabrera, president of George Mason University.
Nicholas Dirks, chancellor at the University of California-Berkeley, said
the ban gives an advantage to countries that compete with the U.S. for
"Allowing them to replace this country as the prime destination for the most
talented students and researchers would cause irreparable damage and help
them to achieve their goal of global leadership," he wrote.
academics say the ban will simply leave the U.S. out of future research.
Caroline Wagner, who studies global collaboration in science at Ohio State
University, said the number of papers published by co-authors in different
countries has grown dramatically since 1990. In 2013 alone, academics from
Iran and the U.S. teamed up on more than 1,000 published papers.
"International collaboration is increasingly the way science is done,"
Wagner said. "We cannot assume that leadership and science belong to the