Portrait by Kellas Campbell


I am Professor in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Associate Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies in the School of Humanities and Social Science. I also direct the Division of Social Science’s new undergraduate major Quantitative Social Analysis, which had its first intake in fall 2017.

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 have 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 datasets of population registers from Qing China that my collaborators and I constructed, the China Multigenerational Panel Datasets (CMGPD). Two of these are now released via ICPSR.

My research now focuses on stratification and inequality, especially in China. With other members of the Lee-Campbell group, I am now 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 participating in other group projects related to the study of the origins of educational elites in China from the Qing to the present. We are also participating in a collaboration with the Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History 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.

Before moving to HKUST in 2013, I was in the Department of Sociology at UCLA for 17 years. I did a postdoc 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. Along the way, the course introduces topics and available datasets relevant to the study of Chinese society.

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.

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