Professor Joy Y. Zhang

Professor of Sociology,
Founding Director, Centre for Global Science and Epistemic Justice
+44 (0) 1227 827574
Professor Joy Y. Zhang


Joy Y. Zhang is a Chinese-born British sociologist with a first degree in medicine. She is the Founding Director of the Centre for Global Science and Epistemic Justice. She is also a lead founder of the BioGovernance Commons, a UK-US-China academic network that promotes good governance in the life sciences.
Her research focuses on the erosion of epistemic boundaries and the rise of cosmopolitan identities formed by changing disciplinary, geopolitical and state-society power relations. Her expertise is in expanding the transnational governance of risk beyond a Western-centric approach and in aligning theoretical frameworks with real-world challenges. Conceptually, her work contributes to sociological theories of risk, cosmopolitanism, decolonisation and subaltern politics. She has also undertaken empirical studies on emerging life sciences, food movements and environmental politics. She has an outstanding track record of consistently delivering high quality, high impact research.
Before joining SSPSSR, Dr Zhang worked at l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where she also obtained her PhD in Sociology in 2010 and MSc in 2006. Previous to that, she graduated from Peking University Health Science Centre, majoring in clinical medicine. Dr Zhang is a Visiting Fellow at the Global Biopolitics Research Centre, Kings College London, an Affiliated Researcher of le Collège d’Etudes Mondiales, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (FMSH), France. She is also a member of the Human Practices Committee of the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. 
Dr Zhang has always tried to have a flavour of different lives when she can. She once worked as a journalist and a columnist and she obtained an accounting certificate issued by China’s Ministry of Finance. Most importantly, she’s keen on exploring artistic tools in exploring bioethical and sociological questions. To date, she has had three solo photographic exhibitions (two of which were sponsored by Canon, China). She loves being a sociologist, but if you ask her what her ‘dream job’ would be, it’s being an art restorer. 
She has obtained individual research grants from the British Academy, the British Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Independent Social Research Foundation in the UK, the National Science Foundation and the Department of State in the US, as well as la Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’homme in France. She has also been interviewed by more than 30 media outlets, including the Science, Nature, MIT Technology Review, ABC (Australia), BBC, CNN, El Pais (Spain), ARD German Radio, South China Morning Post, the Associated Press and Statnews. 

Research interests

We are living in a global risk society, which has complicated the legitimising devices for scientific policies and has rendered social space for subaltern actors to develop new modes of intervention. Dr Zhang has established her expertise in the transnational governance of emerging science in the nexus of these themes. 
Dr Zhang emphasises aligning theoretical frameworks with real-world challenges. Her work has fed into the policy-making of the Royal Society in the UK, China’s National Health Commission, and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. 

Research interest highlights

  • Art-Science interface
  • China, India and the rise of the Global South
  • Citizen science and scientific citizenship
  • Cosmopolitanism and Cosmopolitanisation
  • Decolonisation of knowledge
  • Environmental politics
  • Epistemic (in)justice
  • Public engagement of science
  • Science diplomacy
  • Social movement and state-society relations
  • Transnational governance of scientific uncertainties. 





Dr Zhang welcomes students with interests in the social study of risk, emerging technologies, genome editing, health, bioethics, public engagement of science, science policy, science diplomacy, governance, environmental politics or state-society relations.



  •  American Association of the Advancement of Science
  • American Sociological Association
  • British Sociological Association
  • Chatham House
  • European Association for the Study of Science and Technology
  • International Sociological Association
  • Society for Social Studies of Science
  • UNESCO Inclusive Policy Lab
  • Life membership, China Women Photographers’ Association (since 2003)


  • Editorial Board, Sociology 
  • Editorial Board, Environmental Politics
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Economy and Society
  • Visiting Fellow, Global Biopolitics Research Centre, Kings College London
  • External Examiner, BA Sociology with Social Policy & BA Sociology with Criminology, University of Sheffield 
  • Human Practices Committee, International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition. 
  • Member, Public Engagement Task Force, International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
  • Member, Climate Impacts Advisory Committee, Wellcome Trust
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