Heather Ruth Lee

Heather Ruth Lee
Assistant Professor of History, NYU Shanghai; Global Network Assistant Professor, NYU

Heather Ruth Lee is an Assistant Professor of History at NYU Shanghai and a Global Network Assistant Professor at NYU. Prior to joining NYU Shanghai, she was a Mellon Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She holds a PhD from Brown University and Masters of Arts from Brown University and Emory University. 

Professor Lee’s research interests are urban and legal history and the history of race and ethnicity in the United States. Her first book, Chop Suey Corridor, tells the ironic story of how federal anti-Chinese laws spurred the Chinese restaurant industry in New York City. She has published essays in Eating Asian America (NYU, 2013) and Food for Thought (McFarland, 2008), and contributed a to peer-reviewed anthology on immigration to the United States, edited by Madeline Hsu, Maria Cristina Garcia, and Maddalena Marinari. 

Professor Lee is also a public historian. Her research has been featured in NPR, Atlantic magazine, and Gastropod, a podcast on food science and history. She has advised and curated exhibitions, including shows at the New York Historical Society, the National Museum of American History, and the Museum of Chinese in America. She is a member of the Scholar Strategy Network, an organization to connecting the academy with policymakers, citizens associations, and the media.

Professor Lee has received fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, Association of American Historians, Immigration History Research Center of the University of Minnesota, Mellon Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Library of Congress.  ​


  • PhD, American Studies
    Brown University
  • MA, Public Humanities
    Brown University
  • MA, History
    Emory University

Research Interests

  • US and the World History
  • Urban History
  • Legal History 
  • History of Race and Ethnicity in the United States

Courses Taught

  • Topics in Global China Studies
  • Topics in Asia-Pacific History
  • Humanities Research Lab: Study Immigrant Cities
  • Humanities Capstone Seminar I
  • New York: History of the City and its People