As part of the first ECA Alumni Micro-Residencies, funded by the Devolved Researcher Fund at the Institute of Academic Development, 2013 PHD Architecture graduate Yue Zhuang will return to carry out research and to share with current students her experiences of working in academia. We caught up with Yue before she started her residency.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Having trained as an architect, I studied for my first PhD in Chinese architectural history and theory at Tianjin University, the oldest University in China, where I was a permanent lecturer in landscape history. 

Coming the five thousand miles west to ECA for my second PhD was challenging. ECA broadened my research interests to include the history and theory of 18th-century British landscape art and architecture.

I then spent two years as an EU Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow developing a new genre in 'Entangled Landscapes' at the University of Zurich at the Asia-Europe University Research Priority Programme before joining the University of Exeter as a lecturer in Chinese in 2013. I also teach in the innovative department of Art History and Visual Culture at Exeter.

My teaching and research look at Chinese and British landscape art history in the 18th century, with a focus on the 'entangled histories' of the concept of nature in landscape discourses, which has been, for the second time, funded by EU Marie Curie Actions.

In 2015, I was promoted to Senior Lecturer. In the academic year 2016/17, I am on research leave to pursue my research project 'Cultivating happiness: Sir William Temple, China, and the English landscape garden' funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

What will you be doing during your micro-residency?

I look forward to participating in activities and enjoying conversations with the interdisciplinary ECA postgraduate students.

I have fond memories of the tremendous library resources at ECA, University of Edinburgh and the National Library of Scotland while writing my Edinburgh thesis, I am really pleased to have the opportunity to avail these resources again for my Leverhulme project on ‘Cultivating happiness’.

Remembering that 'conversing' used to mean 'dwelling', I hope the encouraging welcome of old and new ECA staff flourishes and we shall converse and network on shared research interests with my Leverhulme / EU Marie Curie research projects.

What will you be doing with students during your micro-residency?

I should like to give a couple of informal 20-30 min presentations and discussions with students on the following:

  1. Experience of moving from a PhD into an academic post

With practical suggestions such as how to prepare a CV, making job applications, presenting work, negotiating, and entering academia in the UK

  1. Resource Mobilization

How I secured the postdoctoral position in Zurich, how to access research, symposium and exhibition grants, and how to manage research projects and PhD research supervision.

What do you hope to take away from the experience?

I look forward to learning about and from postgraduate students' research which I am sure will stimulate my own research.

Meeting and holding discussions with staff both at ECA and across the University of Edinburgh will strengthen community ties and surely be very useful for my own research projects.