Banned Scientists

Documenting the impact of the immigration ban on U.S. science

Saeed Mehraban

Theoretical Physics And Theoretical Computer Science


I investigate the capabilities and weaknesses of quantum computers. Because of travel limitations for Iranian students, I have already missed opportunities to visit two research groups in Australia. Each year I miss four or five international conferences outside of the US because of travel limitations for Iranian students. All of these limitations already existed before this ban. With this ban, well, they still exist. But before this I thought it was okay, but after this it doesn't make sense to me anymore. I have not visited my family in four years. My parents were planning to visit me this summer and now they can't. I just cannot not see my parents for the rest of my life.

After hearing about the ban, at first I was terrified, then I was angry, and then I was numb; in three days I aged four years. By my birth certificate I'm 26, but I'm practically 30 now. This means I'm more mature now, thanks to Mr. Trump. Perhaps the most direct effect of the ban is that I love people even more. I will seek better ways to understand the points of view of those who hate me -- all of whom have never met me before -- and will try to communicate in ways I couldn't before, and to resolve this misunderstanding. This may take the rest of my life, so be it.

Top universities in America generally select from the best talent in the world. Before this, the US was considered to be a place where one could work and make progress peacefully. Under the shadow of the ban, productivity is a joke. I believe that many individuals may leave this country after getting their degrees and will use their skills elsewhere. Major international conferences that depend on free access to knowledge will consider locating in other places.