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5 Ways That "Shithole" Countries Have Made American Science Better

Who's the "shithole" now?

17 JAN 2018

Last week, President Trump reportedly asked why the U.S. bothers to take immigrants from "shithole" countries, referring to Haiti and nations in Africa.

The blatantly racist comment was ripped apart by foreign and domestic politicians and advocacy groups, many of whom demanded an apology from the President and asked him to retract his remarks.


The White House did no such thing.

"He's not going to apologize for trying to fix our immigration system," said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

"He's committed to doing that and hopefully Democrats will be too."

But it's hard to defend and support this xenophobic and denigrating question when you consider how much people from these "shithole" nations have actually contributed to American science and medicine.

Here's a little taste.

1. Haitian-American Gerald Alphonse is an electrical engineer, physicist and research scientist.

Alphonse is most famous for inventing and demonstrating the world's highest-performing superluminscent diode in 1986. The LED light source he created is a key component in fiber optic communications and next-generation gyroscopes, which are used for medical imaging.

Alphonse is a prolific inventor, and he holds more than 50 US patents. In 2005, he was inducted into the New Jersey Inventors' Hall of Fame. He has also been awarded the Marcuse Garvey Lifetime Achievement award by the Institute for Caribbean Studies in D.C.

2. Haitian-American Dr. Linda Marc-Clérismé is a Harvard and Yale-educated social epidemiologist, who has helped bring awareness to minority health issues.

Dr. Marc-Clérismé's work as an epidemiologist centers on HIV and AIDS research. She is famous for using evidence and data to debunk the harmful myth that Haitian immigrants are more likely to have HIV than all other ethnic groups.

"My research has helped to dispel the myth that Haitian immigrants have a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. This myth was dispelled in my study conducted in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published in 2010 in the journal AIDS," Marc-Clérismé told Newsweek


"Thus, it's disheartening to see that the President of the United States continues to perpetuate dangerous myths about Haitian immigrants."

In 2007 Marc-Clérismé was appointed to the Census Bureau's Race and Ethnicity Advisory Committee. She served as vice-chair of the Advisory Committee on the African American Population from 2007 to 2012.

3. Haitian-American Henri Ford is a Harvard-educated pediatric surgeon and chief of surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Ford is most famous for his work on the pathogenesis of necrotizing enterocolitis, which is the deadliest and most common gastrointestinal disease for premature babies.

In 2015, he completed the first separation of conjoined twins in Haiti.

Ford is currently serving as the president of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA).

4. Sudanese-American Elfatih A. B. EItahir is an engineer and professor of hydrology and climate at MIT.

Eltahir is most famous for developing a theory for how regional-scale vegetation distribution shapes the dynamics of monsoons. He has also studied the impact of deforestation in the Amazon and West Africa on climate.

In 2017, he received the Hyrdologic Sciences Award from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).


5. Sudanese-American Nawal M. Nour is a Harvard-educated obstetrician and gynaecologist.

Nour is most famous for creating the African Women's Health Practice, which focuses on female genital cutting. Specifically, she has developed and studied difibulation, which is a surgical process to alleviate some of the negative effects of female genital cutting on women's health.

In 2003, she was honored with a Genius Award, which is given for "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."

In the same year, she also received the MacArthur Foundation Fellow for creating the country's only center that focuses on the physical and emotional needs of women who have undergone female genital cutting.

"The kind of care we give is no better than any other care...We're basically physicians...who understand that there are some women out there who have been circumcised and in some ways it's not something we want to make a big deal about," she said in a Ted Talk.

"We want to nurture these patients, but we don't want to ostracize them."

In 2017, she was listed in Forbes' article 40 Women To Watch Over 40.