20 Questions with: Dr Zuyi Fang

zuyi fang

Name: Dr Zuyi Fang

Organisation: Beijing Normal University

GPI Role: Disabilities Research Fellow


This quarter, we sit down with Early Career Researcher Dr Zuyi Fang as we ask her the 20 Questions that are on our minds! Keep reading to find out more about what Dr Fang has to say about life, work, and coriander.


1. What are you working on right now?

My primary focuses are the development of disability-inclusive resources within GPI/PLH and the adaptation of ParentText for delivery via WeChat in China. I am also working on two UNICEF regional mappings of ECD parenting programmes and contributing to the development of a WHO parenting intervention handbook.

2. Where are you working?

I am based in Beijing, China.

3. Why is your work important?

Despite global efforts to promote disability inclusion across various agendas, families of children with disabilities worldwide continue to face challenges in accessing parenting support, and children with disabilities are over two times more likely to experience violence. Also, while China launched the Family Education Law in 2021, there is a pressing need to strengthen local capacity to provide high-quality parenting services. We hope to bridge these gaps.

4. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the southeastern part of China, in this little town called Jingdezhen, which is widely known as the porcelain capital of China, owing to its long-standing tradition of producing ceramics and porcelain. You can see Jingdezhen porcelain in museums all around the world, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the British Museum in London, and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

5. Favourite childhood memory?

Riding my bike and roller skating at breakneck speed on windy days, exploring the hills behind my house, and catching shrimp and tadpoles in the streams and creeks near my grandparents' home with my cousins.

6. What is your academic or career background?

I obtained my MSW from Columbia University between 2014-2016, followed by my MPhil and DPhil in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation from Oxford Department of Social Policy and Intervention (DSPI) between 2017-2021. Prior to joining DSPI, I worked as a social worker in New York, providing services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and complex behavioural needs.

7. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In the next 10 years, my goal is to continue advocating for disability inclusion in parenting services, especially in developing countries. I also hope to improve the access to free, evidence-based, playful parenting interventions in rural and remote areas of China, as well as for Chinese families of left-behind and migrant children.

8. How will the GPI help you get there?

GPI's culture of shared learning across sectors, themes, and regions has been providing me with many opportunities to learn about the latest and most practical approaches to evidence-based parenting interventions, as well as the most advanced research methods in the field. The active GPI community constantly inspires me with innovative ideas, and the supportive environment allows me to receive timely guidance and assistance whenever I need it.

9. Favourite parenting hack? If you are not a parent, what do you think your parents/ caregivers did right?

My parents and I lived in different cities during my childhood. I think one of the things my mother did right was to call me almost every day and visit me whenever possible. Also, she never told me that anything was impossible or that there were things a girl could not do.

10. What secret talent do you have?

Assembling furniture, raising hamsters, and forgetting to turn off the stove.

11. Career highlight so far?

My career highlights so far include being part of GPI and having some of my research findings on disability featured by The Lancet and international media outlets like The Guardian and NPR.

12. If I were President I would create the Ministry of...

The Ministry of Parenting Support/Family Education, which leads and coordinates cross-sectoral efforts to improve parenting services for all children.

13. What do you do for fun?

Traveling, watching movies and live shows, playing with my hamsters and cat, exploring different cuisines, playing Zelda, hiking, climbing, and trying out new forms of exercise.

14. If you could have tea/coffee with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?

It would be my maternal grandfather. I have heard that he was an exceptional individual who made significant positive impacts on the village. However, he passed away before I had the opportunity to really get to know him.

15. Quote to live by?

The ancient Chinese saying, “言必信,行必果”, which means that, if you say you will do something, make sure you follow through and deliver the results you promised.

16. Your hero?

My mother, who is the strongest and kindest person I have ever known.

17. Your villain?

Messy house, coriander, and cinnamon.

18. What will our children’s generation just not understand?

3.5-inch floppy disk and magnetic tape.

19. What book or film has had the biggest impact on you?

A Japanese animated film called Spirited Away.

20. If you could go anywhere, where would it be?

The vast and unexplored depths of the sea.