Since 2013 I have been a Professor in the Division of Social Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. My research focuses on stratification and inequality, especially in China and in comparative perspective.

My current primary research interest is the quantitative study of the Qing civil service, including analysis of the family backgrounds and careers of Qing (1644-1911) officials. For this research, I am collaborating with Lee-Campbell group members Yuxue Ren (Shanghai Jiaotong University), James Lee, Liang Chen (Nanjing University), HKUST PhD alumnae Bijia Chen, and many others to construct and analyze a database from editions of the jinshenlu (缙绅录) that survive in the Tsinghua University library and which have been collected and published by a team of researchers there. The jinshenlu was a list of officials published every three months that included their names, place of origin, ethnicity, current post, and other details. The officials included ranged from high officials in the 六部 and other central government units down to low-level officials serving in counties. Our very able team of coders is transcribing these records, and nominative linkage of the records of the same official in different editions is straightforward. We have linked these data to other sources such as  题名录, 朱卷, 同年齿录 and other sources that provide information on family background and exam performance. Thus far, this work has been supported by grants from the General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. To our knowledge, this will be one of the first longitudinal studies of a national bureaucracy, contemporary or modern, in its entirety. We have also made a searchable version of the database available for anyone who would like to look for an ancestor or some other historical figure.

I also participate in other Lee-Campbell research group projects. One is a collaboration with the Shanxi University Research Center for Chinese Social History (RCCSH) on a study of rural society in Shanxi from the 1940s to the 1960s, using unique village micro-data collected by researchers at the RCCSH and held in their archives. Another is a study of the social origins and subsequent employment of university students and educated elites in China in the first half of the 20th century, using student registration data held in archives.

I have a continuing interest in the relationships between kinship, inequality, and demographic behavior. This line of work originated in our studies of family, population, and stratification in eighteenth and nineteenth century northeast China, including the book Fate and Fortune in Rural China with James Lee. More recently we have published on a wide variety of other topics, including economic, family and social influences on marriage, fertility limitation, influence of family context in childhood on mortality in middle age and old age, ethnic identity as reflected in naming behavior, and inter-generational social mobility. For this research, James Lee and I constructed databases from eighteenth and nineteenth century population registers, the China Multigenerational Panel Datasets. We have released these publicly at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) with support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) with funds from R01 HD057175-01A1 (Lee PI) and NICHD 1R01HD070985-01 (Campbell PI).

As an outgrowth of this research on kinship and demography, I have also participated in the Eurasia Project, an international collaboration that compares relationships between economic conditions, household organization, and demographic behavior for a variety of historical European and Asian communities. I am a co-author of the first volume from this effort, Life Under Pressure, published in 2004 by MIT Press, that examines how household responses to economic stress were reflected in mortality patterns. I also participated in the second volume, Prudence and Pressure, which was published in 2010, and in the third volume, Similarity in Difference, which was published in 2014.

I collaborate with Lee and other members of the Lee-Campbell research group on research on a variety of other projects, including demographic behavior and stratification in the Qing Imperial Lineage; family organization, demographic behavior, and inequality in a frontier population, Shuangcheng, Heilongjiang; access to elite education in China during the Republican era; and the new study of official careers in the Qing bureaucracy mentioned earlier.

I am also founding program director of the HKUST Division of Social Science’s new undergraduate major Quantitative Social Analysis, which had its first intake in fall 2017. From 2013 to 2018 I was Associate Dean for Research Postgraduate and Postgraduate Studies at the School of Humanities and Social. From 2018 to 2019 I was Acting Head of the Division of Social Science.

Before coming to HKUST, I was at UCLA for 17 years. My service at UCLA included appointments as Associate Director for Training at the California Center for Population Research from 2006 to 2011 and Vice-Chair and Director of Graduate Students for the Department of Sociology between 2002 and 2005. As Associate Director for Training at CCPR, I was Program Director for two training programs supported by NIH T32 grants, one focused on population studies and supported by NICCHD and one (Co-Directed by Julie Bower in Psychology) focused on integrated training in the population, behavioral and biomedical sciences funded by NIGMS.

In 1995 and 1996 I was an NICHD Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center. I earned my PhD in Demography and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995 and my BS at Caltech in 1989, where I double-majored in Engineering and Applied Science in History.

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, where I am a Changjiang Scholar Professor (長江學者講座教授) for the period 2017-2020. 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 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004. My papers have appeared in such journals as American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Demography, Population Studies, and Demographic Research.