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Stephen Hsu

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Stephen Hsu
Hsu in 2015
Stephen Dao Hui Hsu

1966 (age 57–58)
Ames, Iowa, U.S.
Alma materCalifornia Institute of Technology
University of California, Berkeley
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard University
Yale University
University of Oregon
Michigan State University
ThesisTopics in particle physics and cosmology (1991)
Stephen Hsu
Simplified Chinese
Traditional Chinese
Hanyu PinyinXú Dào Huī

Stephen Dao Hui Hsu (born 1966) is an American physicist, who has previously worked as a tech executive and a university administrator.

Early life and education[edit]

Hsu was born and raised in Ames, Iowa.[1] His father Cheng Ting Hsu (1923–1996), who was born in Wenling, Zhejiang, in what was then the Republic of China, was a professor of aerospace engineering at Iowa State University in Ames from 1958 to 1989.[2] Stephen Hsu's mother was also originally from China, and Hsu had a grandfather who served as a general in the National Revolutionary Army of the Chinese Kuomintang government.[1] At age 12, Hsu took his first college course, in computer science, and he took physics and mathematics courses at Iowa State while attending Ames High School.[3][4][5]

Hsu received a B.S. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1986 at age 19, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991. After his doctorate, he was a Harvard Junior Fellow and Superconducting Super Collider Fellow from 1991 to 1994.


In 1995, he became an assistant professor at Yale University before moving to the University of Oregon in 1998, where he became a full professor of theoretical physics and director of the Institute of Theoretical Science. Hsu's research has focused on a number of areas in particle physics and cosmology, including phase transitions in the early universe, the ground state of quark matter at high density,[6] black holes[7] and quantum information,[8] minimum length from quantum gravity,[9] dark energy,[10] and quantum foundations.[11]

In July 2012, Michigan State University named him vice president for research and graduate studies. At the time, Inside Higher Ed and Lansing State Journal described the appointment as controversial, due to Hsu's comments endorsing research into using genetic modification to increase human intelligence, and his blog posts describing human race categorization as biologically valid.[12][13]

On June 10, 2020, the MSU graduate student union began calling for Hsu to be removed from the administrative position. The MSU student association also called for his removal, and multiple petitions were circulated, including a counter-petition.[14][15] As of June 17, petitions for removal had 700 and 470 signatures, while the counter petition had over 970 signatures.[16] On June 19, 2020 MSU president Samuel L. Stanley announced that Hsu had resigned as vice president, returning to a tenured faculty position.[16][14] Hsu made it clear that it was Stanley who requested his resignation, and that he did not agree with Stanley's decision.[17]

Technology work[edit]

In 2000, Hsu went on leave from the University of Oregon to create Safeweb, an anonymizer service.[18][1] In 2003, Symantec acquired SafeWeb for its SSL VPN technology (rack-mounted security hardware appliance).[19]

Hsu is a founder of Genomic Prediction, a company that develops technology for advanced genetic testing.[20][21]

Hsu also has an interest in psychometrics[22] and human genetic variation, which he writes about in his blog and in other publications.[23][24][25][26]

In 2017, Hsu and five collaborators published a paper in Genetics on the use of lasso to construct genomic predictors of complex human traits (height, bone density, cognitive ability), using data from the UK Biobank. Their genotype height predictor estimated adult height within an accuracy of roughly one inch.[27]

In 2018 his research group used the method on the same dataset to build genomic predictors for complex diseases such as hypothyroidism, (resistive) hypertension, type 1 and 2 diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, gallstones, glaucoma, gout, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol, asthma, basal cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and heart attack. Outliers in risk score (e.g., 99th percentile) were shown, in out-of-sample validation tests, to have up to ten times the risk of ordinary individuals for the specific conditions.[28][29] The predictors use as input information dozens to thousands of common SNPs measured for each individual.[21]

He serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly Beijing Genomics Institute), and as a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab.[30]


  1. ^ a b c Kopytoff, Verne (September 4, 2001). "CEO says Safeweb plan will help open China". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on July 20, 2003. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  2. ^ Hsu, Steve (April 1, 2008). "Hsu scholarship at Caltech". Information Processing. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Hsu, Steve (November 9, 2010). "School daze". Information Processing. Blogspot. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  4. ^ Hsu, Stephen (December 7, 2014). "Feynman Lectures: Epilogue". Michigan State University. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Hsu, Steve (August 26, 2012). "Back in the MACT". Information Processing. Blogspot. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Evans, Nick; Hormuzdiar, James; Hsu, Stephen D.H.; Schwetz, Myck (2000). "On the QCD ground state at high density". Nuclear Physics B. 581 (1–2): 391–408. arXiv:hep-ph/9910313. Bibcode:2000NuPhB.581..391E. doi:10.1016/S0550-3213(00)00253-4. S2CID 14766144.
  7. ^ Hsu, Stephen D.H. (2003). "Quantum production of black holes". Physics Letters B. 555 (1–2): 92–98. arXiv:hep-ph/0203154. Bibcode:2003PhLB..555...92H. doi:10.1016/S0370-2693(03)00012-1. S2CID 5793284.
  8. ^ Hsu, Stephen D. H.; Reeb, David (2009). "Black holes, information, and decoherence". Physical Review D. 79 (12): 124037. arXiv:0903.2258. Bibcode:2009PhRvD..79l4037H. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.79.124037. S2CID 119189621.
  9. ^ Calmet, Xavier; Graesser, Michael; Hsu, Stephen D. H. (2004). "Minimum Length from Quantum Mechanics and Classical General Relativity". Physical Review Letters. 93 (21): 211101. arXiv:hep-th/0405033. Bibcode:2004PhRvL..93u1101C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.93.211101. PMID 15600988. S2CID 6699522.
  10. ^ Hsu, Stephen D.H. (2004). "Entropy bounds and dark energy". Physics Letters B. 594 (1–2): 13–16. arXiv:hep-th/0403052. Bibcode:2004PhLB..594...13H. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2004.05.020. S2CID 14447957.
  11. ^ Hsu, Stephen D.H (2015). "The measure problem in no-collapse (many worlds) quantum mechanics". arXiv:1511.08881 [quant-ph].
  12. ^ Miller, Matthew (October 7, 2012). "From 2012: New MSU VP for research has start-up experience, but controversial views concern some". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved June 18, 2020. The concerns HoSang laid out in his letter went beyond the BGI project. They were equally about positions Hsu had taken in his blog years earlier: that race is "clearly" a valid biological concept, that whether there are more-than-superficial differences between groups (in areas such as cognitive ability, personality and athletic prowess) is an open question.
  13. ^ Flaherty, Colleen (May 29, 2013). "Quest for 'Genius Babies'?". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Guzman, Wendy (19 June 2020). "Michigan State VP of Research Stephen Hsu resigns". The State News. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  15. ^ Lyons, Craig (15 June 2020). "Petition seeks removal of MSU VP of research over controversial comments, research". Lansing State Journal. USA Today. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  16. ^ a b "MSU VP of Research resigns after calls to be removed". WLNS.com. No. 20 June 2020. Nexstar. Retrieved 21 June 2020.
  17. ^ "Resignation". infoproc.blogspot.com. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Punching Holes In Internet Walls". The New York Times. 2001-04-26. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  19. ^ "Symantec purchases SSL VPN maker SafeWeb". Retrieved 2020-06-21.
  20. ^ "Modern genetics will improve health and usher in "designer" children". The Economist. 2019-11-07. Retrieved 2020-04-23.
  21. ^ a b "Polygenic Risk Scores and Genomic Prediction: Q&A with Stephen Hsu". genengnews.com. 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  22. ^ Clynes, Tom (2016-10-06). "Where Nobel winners get their start". Nature. 538 (7624): 152. Bibcode:2016Natur.538..152C. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.20757. PMID 27734890. S2CID 4466329.
  23. ^ "Nautilus Magazine: Super-Intelligent Humans". nautil.us. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  24. ^ "Nautilus Magazine: Smart Machines". nautil.us. 2015-09-03. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  25. ^ Hsu, Stephen D. H. (2014). "Genetic Architecture of Intelligence". arXiv:1408.3421 [q-bio.GN].
  26. ^ "Intelligence.org: Hsu on Cognitive Genomics". intelligence.org. 2013-08-31. Retrieved 2015-12-23.
  27. ^ Lello, Louis; Avery, Steven G.; Tellier, Laurent; Vazquez, Ana; Campos, Gustavo de los; Hsu, Stephen D. H. (2017-09-18). "Accurate Genomic Prediction Of Human Height". Genetics. 210 (2): 477–497. arXiv:1709.06489. Bibcode:2017arXiv170906489L. bioRxiv 10.1101/190124. doi:10.1534/genetics.118.301267. PMC 6216598. PMID 30150289.
  28. ^ Hsu, Stephen D. H.; Tellier, Laurent CAM; Yong, Soke Yuen; Raben, Timothy; Lello, Louis (2018-12-27). "Genomic Prediction of Complex Disease Risk". bioRxiv 10.1101/506600.
  29. ^ "AI and the Genetic Revolution". Harvard Business Review. 2019-05-08. ISSN 0017-8012. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  30. ^ Yong, Ed (May 16, 2013). "Chinese project probes the genetics of genius". Nature News. 497 (7449): 297–299. Bibcode:2013Natur.497..297Y. doi:10.1038/497297a. PMID 23676731.

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