I caught the “China bug” after travelling in Asia after high school. I trace it to meeting an American while teaching English in a gritty little Korean city who showed me some of his Chinese calligraphy. It was the most amazing thing I’d ever seen, and I thought “I want to do that”. Soon after I discovered Confucius’ Analects at a sweaty dorm in Singapore and I was hooked. A few months later I was majoring in Modern Chinese Studies in the East Asian Studies Department at University of Leeds.
After graduating, I worked in Taiwan for five years, while doing an online MA in Asia-Pacific studies under the tutelage of Joern Dosch and Chris Dent, who convinced me to do a PhD. Cees van der Eijk and Will Lowe took me under their wing at the Methods and Data Institute, University of Nottingham, where I resided as a grad student from 2005 and RCUK Fellow for China, Globalization and Civil Society from 2009-2011. I then moved over to the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies to work with Steve Tsang as Director of Research, before going back to the School of Politics as Director of the China Policy Institute.