China Engaged Academics

Meet the key members of the China Institute and find out about their work in UK-China engagement.

Members of the China Institute stood outside a Chinese building

Our academics

Professor Jon Frampton headshot

Jon Frampton - Director of the China Institute, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (China) and Professor of Stem Cell Biology - Prof Frampton provides leadership for the China Institute, chairs its board of key China-engaged academics, and is the principal link with the office in Guangzhou. He is also the co-director of the Joint Centre for Translation Medicine Research based at the Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health, and is a visiting professor of the Zhongshan School of Medicine at Sun Yat-sen University.

Professor Zhibing Zhang Headshot

Zhibing Zhang FREng - Co-Director of the China Institute and Professor of Chemical Engineering - Professor Zhang collaborates with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), a number of Chinese universities, and other companies on joint research projects. He is also involved in training Chinese PhD students and academic scholars, funded by CAS, The Royal Society and Guangzhou Municipal Government, among others. In addition, he helps develop strategies for the institute to engage with China and facilitates relations with strategic Chinese partners.

Professor Clive Roberts Headshot

Clive Roberts - Director of the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education - Over the last 14 years, Professor Clive Roberts has developed a broad portfolio of research aimed at improving the performance of railway systems. He leads the University’s contribution in a number of large EPSRC, European Commission and industry funded projects. He works extensively with the railway industry in Britain and overseas. He currently leads a team of 11 research fellows and 16 PhD students.

Professor David Dickinson headshot

David Dickinson - Director of the China Research Cluster (Birmingham Business School) - David has spent most of his academic career at the University of Birmingham. He has been a visiting Professor at Universities in France, Portugal, Japan, China, Russia and Australia. His research interests encompass the banking and financial markets and he has been undertaking research on China for the last 15 years. He has been published widely in journals and books and in  previous roles has been a consultant for the World Bank and GATT.     


Professor John Bryson headshot

John Bryson - The Department of Strategy and International Business - John's research is motivated by a desire to understand and explain the complex ways in which production is organized through space and in place, and via a variety of forms of enterprise. He has a keen focus on understanding the economic geographies of knowledge, specifically the production and consumption of expertise in knowledge-intensive business services, specifically management consultancy, market research, impression management and industrial design.

Professor KK Cheng Headshot

KK Cheng - Professor of Public Health and Primary Care and Director, Institute of Applied Health Research - KK Cheng (郑家强) has been Professor at the University of Birmingham since 1995. His main interests are in the epidemiology, prevention and control of important non-communicable diseases, and the development of primary care in China.

Professor Martin Freer, headshotMartin Freer - Head of Physics & Astronomy, director of the Birmingham Energy Institute & director of the Birmingham Centre for Nuclear Education & Research - Prof Freer is involved in the development of collaborative research, education and training programmes linked to energy, nuclear energy and nuclear physics with Chinese institutions. His specialism is the Energy Research Accelerator, an interdisciplinary research hub that brings together universities, the British Geological Survey and business partners to transition energy technology to market on a rapid time scale.

Professor Michael Dobson headshot

Michael Dobson - Director of the Shakespeare Institute & professor of Shakespeare studies - Prof Dobson specialises in Chinese performances and translations of Shakespeare. He held a visiting appointment at Peking University in 1999 and has helped the Royal Shakespeare Company’s project to produce a theatre-friendly Mandarin translation of Shakespeare’s complete works. Prof Dobson is also devising a distance-learning course in collaboration with the online Asian Shakespeare Intercultural Archive, about eastern Asian Shakespeare more broadly.

Professor Mike Robinson Headshot

Mike Robinson - Director, Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage - Prof Robinson examines various types of industrial heritage and how they may be adapted & used. He is interested in the ways China manages & interprets its cultural heritage, whether as cultural or natural sites, in museums, as intangible cultural heritage or, in terms of heritage-led regeneration. He has spoken at UNESCO Beijing World Heritage workshops & his institute has developed a partnership with the World Heritage Research Centre at the University of Peking.

Professor Moataz Attallah headshot

Moataz Attallah - Director of the Advanced Materials & Processing Laboratory (AMPLab) & Professor of Advanced Materials Processing - Prof Atallah regularly visits China for research collaborations with companies and universities. In 2013, he received funding through the Guangdong Municipal Government for the project ‘Advanced Friction Joining Technologies for the Automotive Sector’. He is involved in EU-China programmes (H2020) on advanced netshape manufacturing using laser additive manufacturing and powder HIPping.

Dr Stephen Minchin headshot

Stephen Minchin - Academic director at the Birmingham International Academy and Senior Lecturer for School of Biosciences - Dr Minchin’s main engagement with China is around the development of teaching partnerships with Chinese universities, as he is passionate about providing an education with a global perspective for both home and international students. He is also actively involved in the 2+2 Dual Degree programmes, and aims to develop a purposeful two-way engagement with China.  


Professor Xiao-Ping Zhang headshot

Xiao-Ping Zhang - IEEE senior member - Xiao-Ping Zhang is a Professor of Electrical Power Systems, Director of Smart Grid, Birmingham Energy Institute, and Co-Director of Birmingham Energy Storage Centre sponsored by UK, and Head of the Electrical Power & Control Systems Group and has published over 100 research papers in scientific journals.

Xin Yao Headshot

Xin Yao - Director of the Centre of Excellence for Research in Computational Intelligence and Applications (CERCIA) and professor of computer science - With the support of the University of Birmingham and the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Prof Yao founded the USTC-Birmingham Joint Research Institute in Intelligent Computation and Its Applications (UBRI) in October 2010. The primary aim of UBRI is to strengthen long-term research collaboration and partnership between the two universities.

Yufeng Zhang headshot

Yufeng Zhang - Director of Business Programmes in Engineering, Sciences & Law - Yufeng is the academic Coordinator of the EU FP7 Europe-China High Value Engineering Network (EC-HVEN), and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Yufeng’s early industrial career included responsibilities for project management, key account management and new business development in a Japan based MNC. He continues to work very closely with industry, and has researched and published in the areas of engineering management, network operations, international manufacturing, and technology management.

Professor Yulong Ding Headshot

Yulong Ding - Director of the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage, School of Chemical Engineering - Yulong Ding works in energy materials and energy processes and currently focusing on developing novel technologies for electrical and thermal energy storage at different scales. He was listed in the top 1% highly cited researchers with consistent impact over 2002-2012 in the engineering category by Thomson Reuters. Ding also invented the liquid air energy storage technology and led the initial stage of development of the technology.                                     

Professional Services Staff

Luke Wales headshot

Luke Wales - Director of International Strategic Engagement (China and East Asia) - Luke joined the University of Birmingham in June 2015 with a remit to focus on the universities activities in China and East Asia. He supports the board by providing direction for UoB Institutional initiatives in China, providing advice, guidance and support for academic and professional services colleagues engaging with China. as well as developing the overall China strategy to maximise the returns from UoB investments in China.

Dr David Boardman headshot

David Boardman - Head of strategic projects (College of Engineering and Physical Sciences) - As a fellow of the Institute for Knowledge and Transfer in the UK, David is interested in supporting the development of new collaborative innovation relationships between the UK and China. Over the last few years David has worked closely with colleagues in Birmingham and Guangzhou on areas such as technology, energy, railway systems technology as well as materials and manufacturing, and water treatment.  

Vivian Zheng headshot

Vivian Zheng - Director of operations in China - Vivian’s role is to manage the university’s strategic relationships in China, including those with government, industry and Chinese institutions. She also develops research contacts, identifies funding opportunities and supports delivery of research activities. In addition, she provides market intelligence to support the university’s strategy on China, and helps promote Birmingham to prospective students.

Mingya Zong headshot

Mingya Zong - Country recruitment manager for the University of Birmingham - Mingya is based in Shanghai where she implements the university’s recruitment strategy in China.  Mingya develops business partnerships and education programmes with key Chinese institutions, manages the University’s agent network, media and alumni relations, supports the marketing strategy for China, and helps maximise the outcome of student recruitment in China.


Nina Morris headshot

Nina Morris - China Institute Officer, Birmingham Global – Nina Morris holds a pivotal position in planning, running, and developing China Institute activities both in the UK and in China, including partnership management, and the development and management to conclusion of specific projects critical to the continued development of the University’s position within China.


Tony Moran Headshot

Tony Moran - International communications manager at the University of Birmingham - Tony is a strategic corporate communications specialist with over 15 years’ experience managing external and internal stakeholder relationships in public sector organisations. He is responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of communications activity to raise the University's research profile in key international regions.

To get in touch with any of our team members, or find out more about the work of the China Institute, please contact our office.