Jingyi Wu

Jingyi Wu, UCI logic and philosophy of science Ph.D. ’23, is a recipient of the UCI School of Social Sciences Outstanding Scholarship award. The faculty-nominated award recognizes an outstanding graduate student for high intellectual scholarship and achievement. With more than half a dozen publications to her name – co-authored with UCI mentors who were the reason she chose to pursue a graduate degree at UCI – Wu is quickly becoming a recognized name in the social epistemology, network modeling, philosophy of race and gender, and foundational physics spaces. Below, the newly hired assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics shares more about her work.

The basics:
Hometown: Haining, China
Degrees: B.A. Mathematics, Philosophy (double major), Middlebury College; M.A. Mathematical Behavioral Science, UC Irvine; Ph.D. Logic & Philosophy of Science, UC Irvine

What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in logic and philosophy of science, and specifically at UCI? What interests you most about your work?

The summer after my third year in undergrad, I traveled to Munich to attend the summer school on mathematical philosophy for female students. My two future advisors, Cailin O'Connor and Jim Weatherall, were lecturing at the summer school. I followed Jim's lecture on “Space, Time, and Geometry from Newton to Einstein, feat. Maxwell” there. I had a great time at the summer school. With only female students in the classroom, I also asked way more questions than I was used to. I developed a passion for using mathematical tools to think about foundational and philosophical questions in physics, and decided to apply to graduate school in philosophy of science soon after. I chose to attend UC Irvine because I knew I could depend on Cailin and Jim’s mentorship. They have supported me unfailingly ever since.

Tell us about your research. What problem will your findings help solve?

My dissertation project is situated at the intersection of social epistemology, network modeling, and the philosophy of race and gender. Specifically, I use mathematical models to think about how social identities and social injustice can impact the creation of knowledge in a group. More broadly, my research aims to explore how marginalized social groups may be epistemically better positioned to know, how marginalized academics receive less credit for their work, and how diversity can benefit our epistemic lives. This line of research is also deeply inspired by my own experience as a woman of color in academia, as well as my years of advocacy and community-building work for minoritized philosophers.

I also work on the foundations of physics, specifically on how mathematical apparatuses can be used to represent and explain physical phenomena, in the context of spacetime theories, classical field theories, and the renormalization group method.

The common thread across my two primary research areas is that I use mathematical tools to think about philosophically interesting topics in the physical and social realms, and philosophically reflect on such mathematical practices.

Where can your work be found if someone wanted to learn more about your research?

At my website - https://www.jingyiwu.org/research.html - and a public-facing blog post introducing some of my dissertation work: https://philosophyofbrains.com/2023/02/14/cognitive-science-of-philosophy-symposium-network-modeling.aspx

What organizations, foundations, etc. have funded your research while you’ve been an Anteater?

The National Science Foundation, The Templeton Foundation, the Provost Ph.D. Fellowship from UCI, the Inclusive Excellence Fellowship/Grant from UCI, The History and Philosophy of Science Fund from UCI, and the Social Science Merit Fellowship from UCI.

What recognitions have you received for your work, and what activities have you been involved in on campus?

I received the 2021 Hanneke Janssen Prize and the 2022 Justine Lambert Prize for my paper “Explaining Universality: Infinite Limit Systems in the Renormalization Group method.”

During my Ph.D., I was involved in various initiatives promoting diversity and justice in the philosophy academia. For instance, I served on the Minorities and Philosophy (MAP) leadership team from 2018-2021, including co-directing it in 2020-21.

What are your plans now, post-Ph.D.?

I completed my Ph.D. in May 2023. In September, I will be an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics.

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