After growing up in Taiwan and Hong Kong the child of Christian missionaries, Jer attended Houghton college in up-state New York, where he received the Houghton Heritage Scholarship, became a firefighter, and studied philosophy. After graduating in 2007, he became a community organizer with AmeriCorps in inner-city Buffalo and later served as a Strategic Planner in the CEOs office at Habitat for Humanity International in Atlanta before enrolling in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Jer is currently Director of the Primals Initiative and Psychology PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. His advisor is Dr. Martin Seligman, former APA president and founder of positive psychology. Jer studies primals, which are discrete highly generalized beliefs about the world as a whole. Long term, he hopes to identify primals that are tied to positive life outcomes and design scaleable interventions.
Jer is an agented author and has three unpublished manuscripts currently on hold. Therefore Joy: A Positive Philosophical Theology for the Next Generation explores the nature of freewill and determinism. Stuttering Gets the Girls: Stories from a Life on Three Continents is a collection of non-fiction short stories that ground Jer’s cultural and ethical view point. A third manuscript concerns pacifism, just-war theory, and the philosophical roots of violence.
In 2011, Jer pulled a guy off the subway tracks who was in contact with the electrified third rail and in the process was shocked as well. Police confirmed that he saved the stranger’s life and could have easily been killed. The story became a media event after a bystander posted the video on Youtube. The story garnered over 6 million online hits and reached over 11 million television viewers. National appearances include the Dr. Drew Show and Fox & Friends.
This blog, formerly known as “Jer’s Intellectual Adventures,” has morphed into a way to share news related to the Primals Initiative. He also hopes that it can remain a personal blog and an informal outlet to “try out” ideas and stay in touch with family and friends, as well as to connect with other people of similar interests. Topics discussed may include psychological research, history, politics, philosophy, religion, and culture, as well as personal updates.