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Yuanya Zhang

Research Student

Research Student in the School of Education
Student Fellow in the Durham Research Methods Centre


Yuanya is a PhD student in the School of Education at Durham University. She started her PhD in 2021, and has been awarded an ESRC funded NINE DTP Studentship.

Yuanya’s doctoral research centres mainly on teenagers’ engagement with social media (video-sharing mobile apps) and its implications on their livelihood and social development, with a specific interest in the Chinese rural context. Her study intends to understand rural teenagers’ online cultural practices and to inform educators on how best to support their transition to adulthood. Yuanya’s research interest derives from her two-year volunteer teaching experience in a middle school in rural China (2017-2019). She has established very close relationships with her students and her teaching experience has deepened her understanding of rural education as well as the life trajectory of rural youth. She is thus enthusiastic about learning and researching rural teenagers’ livelihood and development.

Yuanya graduated with a BA (First Class Honours) in Media and Communication at City University of Hong Kong in 2016. She completed her MA program (with Distinction) in Education and Technology at University College London (UCL) in 2020.

Research interests

  • Teenagers, social media and technology
  • Middle-school education and youth development
  • Youth culture and cultural production
  • Rural-urban inequalities
  • China studies