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Min Zhou elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Min Zhou elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Min Zhou with flowers gifted to her by two visiting scholars from China in celebration of her election to the NAS. (Photo provided by Professor Zhou.)

The honor for the sociologist and director of the UCLA Asia Pacific Center follows her election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2022.

UCLA International Institute, May 4, 2023Min Zhou, UCLA distinguished professor of sociology and director of the Asia Pacific Center of the International Institute, has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS). She is one of four UCLA faculty members elected to the body this spring as part of a new cohort of 120 members. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S) in 2022.

NAS is a private, nonprofit society of distinguished scholars established by an Act of Congress in 1863. Committed to furthering science in America, NAS provides independent, objective advice to the U.S. on matters of science and technology. Potential members are nominated by existing Academy members in a formal process, with memberships determined by vote at the annual NAS meeting.

“It came as a total surprise. I received an email from Dr. Dale Abel of UCLA Medical School, whom I don’t know, during my weekly Council on Academic Personnel meeting on the morning of May 2. I replied that he might have written to the wrong person, since my name is a common Chinese name,” said Zhou, who is Walter and Shirley Wang Professor of U.S.–China Relations and Communications at UCLA.

“The news was soon affirmed by Dr. Abel and a few colleagues at UCLA and other institutions, then confirmed by an official email in the evening. I was thrilled by the amazing news! 

“I am humbled and honored to be elected. I find it hard to believe that it was even possible for me to become a member of NAS.

“From a naïve girl growing up in turbulent China of the 1960s to a young immigrant arriving in America in the early 1980s with very little, who had to overcome language and cultural barriers while taking whatever jobs available — waiting tables, cleaning houses, sewing garments, babysitting — to support my pursuit of higher education and dream of becoming a teacher, I am now a distinguished professor at a major U.S. research university.

“This 40-year journey could not have taken me to where I am today without the very strong support of family, friends, colleagues, students and institutions. I am immensely grateful for the recognition of my work and contributions by the NAS and AAA&S.”

Zhou joined UCLA in 1994 with a joint appointment in sociology and Asian American studies. Her research focuses on migration and development, Chinese diasporas, race and ethnicity and the sociology of Asian America. Her scholarly contributions have been recognized twice by the American Sociological Association (ASA): She is the recipient of the 2020 Contribution to the Field Award of the ASA Section on Asia and Asian America and the 2017 Distinguished Career Award of the ASA Section on International Migration.

In 2022, Zhou became a member of the inaugural class of the UCLA Faculty Mentoring Honor Society, which recognizes faculty members’ work in mentoring early- and mid-career colleagues on campus.

Known nationally and internationally for her scholarship, Zhou has published 20 books and more than 200 journal articles and book chapters.

Her recent publications include an edited volume with a former doctoral student, Hasan Mahmud: “Beyond Economic Migration: Social, Historical and Political Factors in U.S. Immigration” (NYU, 2023). Her co-authored book, “The Asian American Achievement Paradox” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2015; with Lee), has won numerous ASA book awards.

Among her other books is a fascinating memoir, “The Accidental Sociologist in Asian American Studies,” which traces her childhood in China and career journey in America (UCLA Asian American Studies Press, 2011).

The UCLA International Institute congratulates Professor Zhou on the honor of becoming a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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Published: Thursday, May 4, 2023