Student Spotlight: Yuan Xiao
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Yuan Xiao

Yuan Xiao is an assistant professor (non-tenure track) at Columbia University’s Urban Planning Program. For 2014-2015, she was a postdoctoral research scholar at the Center for Global Legal Transformation of Columbia Law School, where she researched property rights in the context of rapid urbanization. In 2015, she also taught at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service as an adjunct assistant professor. Yuan’s research interests include international development, urbanization in developing countries, land policy and land markets, and property rights theories. She graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning in 2014.

Her dissertation, titled “Making Land Fly: The Institutionalization of China’s Land Quota Markets and Its Implications for Urbanization, Property Rights, and Intergovernmental Politics,” won the 2015 Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Gill-Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning. It investigates China’s land quota markets, a recent land policy innovation that virtually transfers urbanization permission from the countryside to cities.

“It is a great honor to receive the Gill-Chin Lim Award for Best Dissertation on International Planning, shared Yuan. “The award is empowering to me personally, and an important reminder of why we are doing international planning research—we need a global vision and we strive to push the global agenda in the planning field. Many thanks for the recognition from ACSP.”

Before turning to academia, Yuan had worked at the World Bank's headquarters in Washington D. C. between 2005-2008. She also holds a M. A. in Political Science and International Relations from University of Toronto, and a B. A. in International Politics, and a B. A. in Economics from Peking University.

Though Yuan is currently teaching at Columbia University, she is looking for a long-term position so she can continue to contribute to the research and practice of international development planning.

We congratulate Yuan on a job well done and look forward to seeing what the future holds for her.

You can reach Yuan at


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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