Viola Cohen



ALISA CHUNG BEGAN HER UNIVERSITY SEARCH WITH A CLEAR VISION: find a reputable institution to study physics that also offered a smaller, intimate setting with an international flavour.

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Chung ventured to Portland, Oregon, during high school. But when it came time to choose a university, she decided to go beyond national borders and look for a more global educational experience.

UBC Okanagan stood out as the perfect fit, not only providing a world-class physics program but also a diverse and welcoming community. The university’s emphasis on balanced teacher-to-student ratios appealed to Chung, ensuring a personalized and enriching learning experience.

While Chung’s primary focus of study is physics, university enabled her to reignite a long-held passion for art history. That eventually led her to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in physics and a minor in art history and visual culture.

Chung says that art history classes help her engage the creative side of her brain, encouraging her to think differently about topics lacking a definitive answer.

“I’m excited about exploring critical thinking in the context of culture, power dynamics and gender relations,” she says, adding that studying the intersection of art history and physics is a fascinating way to understand the world.

“This kind of critical thinking intertwined with a creative perspective, encourages me to view things differently. Questioning who has examined them before, to think about why, and explore more diverse perspectives.”

In the realm of physics, Chung says there’s an acknowledgment that mathematics is a philosophy on its own; a unique way of analyzing, viewing and processing the world.

“I believe art history operates similarly—there’s a distinct approach to understanding how the world functions and how we navigate through it. This dual fascination with physics and art history has been an immensely enjoyable and thought-provoking journey for me.”

Through her studies in art history and visual culture survey classes—taken in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies—Chung is able to further analyze the Eurocentric, gender-biased concept of genius in both art and science.

“This helps shed light on the need for a more inclusive and diverse narrative in teaching; in both my art history and science classes, we question why certain figures are elevated in academic discussions and others aren’t.”

Chung says that she has seen that art history progressively re-evaluating and incorporating diverse perspectives, but the history of science remains entrenched in gender bias.

“This realization made me think about the pragmatic mindset prevalent among scientists; why should we care about the narrative of our history?

“I’m working to apply the principles of analyzing art or texts in art history to show the importance of delving into the biases ingrained in scientific journals.”

Chung believes there is room for art history’s analytical lens in the world of science.

“Thanks to my degree from UBC Okanagan, I can apply a fresh perspective to teaching math and science, addressing gender biases and exploring innovative approaches to educating future generations.”

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