Portrait by Kellas Campbell


I am Professor and Acting Head (2018-19) in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I am also founding program director of the Division of Social Science’s new undergraduate major Quantitative Social Analysis, which had its first intake in fall 2017.

My research now focuses on stratification and inequality, especially in China. With other members of the Lee-Campbell group, I am conducting a study of the careers of bureaucrats during the Qing by construction and analysis of a database of office holders based on the 缙绅录 and related sources, and participating in other group projects related to the study of the origins of educational elites in China from the Qing to the present. I am also participating in a collaboration with the Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History (RCCSH) on a study of rural society from 1949 to the mid-1960s, using village-level microdata compiled by researchers at the RCCSH, and another Lee-Campbell group study of the social origins of students at universities in China in the first half of the twentieth century. I have a longer description of my research projects here.

My early research focused on kinship, inequality, and demographic behavior in China and in comparative perspective. With James Lee and other collaborators in the Lee-Campbell group, I published on a wide variety of related topics, including economic, family and social influences on demographic outcomes such as birth, marriage, migration, and death, fertility limitation in historical China, and the role of kin networks in shaping social mobility. This early work made use of databases of population registers from Qing China that my collaborators and I constructed, the China Multigenerational Panel Datasets (CMGPD). Two of these are now available for download at ICPSR along with accompanying documentation.

Before moving to HKUST in 2013, I was in the Department of Sociology at UCLA for 17 years. I was an NICHHD postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center from 1995 to 1996, earned my PhD at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995, and my Bachelor’s degree at the California Institute of Technology in 1989. I double-majored in Engineering and Applied Science and History.

I have an online course, Social Science Approaches to the Study of Chinese Society, which launched in two parts at Coursera in spring 2017: Part I and Part II. This is a broad overview of social science research methodology taught at a very basic level, intended for students without prior relevant coursework. Colleagues and myself have begun using the videos to teach our required undergraduate social research methodology course in blended or flipped format.

I was awarded a Guggenheim in 2004. I was named a Changjiang Scholar by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China in 2017, nominated by Central China Normal University. From 2011 to 2013, I was a Visiting Chair Professor (访问讲席教授) at the Department of History at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

I have also engaged in various service and administration. At HKUST, highlights include serving on the University Appointments and Substantiation Committee 2013-2014 and then chairing the committee 2014-2016. I co-chaired a Public Policy Cluster Hire Search Committee 2015-17. I served on the HKUST Presidential Search Committee 2017-18, the School of Humanities and Social Science Dean Search Committee 2017-17, and the HKUST Vice-Provost for Research and Postgraduate Search Committee 2015-16. Highlights from my time at UCLA include serving as Vice-Chair and Director of Graduate Studies at the UCLA Department of Sociology from 2002 to 2005, Associate Director for Training at the UCLA California Center for Population Research from 2006 to 2011, Director (with Julie Bower of UCLA Psychology) of an NIGMS-funded T32 training program “Integrated Training in the Population, Behavioral, and Biomedical Sciences” from 2009 to 2014.

In my spare time, I like photography. I also like listening to jazz and classical music, and reading mystery novels.