Min Zheng

Min Zheng is a research associate in the Department of Ophthalmology within the UNC School of Medicine. Her research focuses on using nanotechnologies in gene and drug delivery for treating ocular disorders.

Min Zhengphoto by Megan May
June 27th, 2018

When you were a child, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

An army doctor. I had always looked up to my father, who worked in a hospital as a pharmacist for his whole life — so I was familiar with the hospital setting. As for the army part, I thought that military uniforms were so cool.


“Tiny tools improve eye health.”

Share the pivotal moment in your life that helped you choose your field of study.

I spent 16 years at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Henan before coming to the United States with my family in 2002. At that time, I had the opportunity to join the research lab at the University of Florida’s Department of Ophthalmology, and I have been active in ophthalmic research ever since. Research is not like any other job — it is a practice that I find to be different and challenging. I enjoy the excitement and sometimes ordinary routine of experiments, and I cherish the opportunity to contribute on the front line of science.

women doing zumba

Zheng (back row, far right) practices Zumba at Duke’s annual heart event for National Wear Red Day in February.

Tell us about a time you encountered a tricky problem. How did you handle it and what did you learn from it?

Being a researcher and a lab manager involves a lot more than just science. On one side, I have a lot of experiments to do. On the other side, I have to manage the lab, which is similar to managing a small business. Skills in people management, communication, and leadership are equally important to ensure the lab runs as smoothly as possible. Lastly, it is critical I listen to all my lab members, and set aside time for reading the latest research.

What are your passions outside of science?

Pilates and Zumba. Pilates can improve flexibility, muscle strength, and muscle tone, while Zumba works the whole body and boosts my mood. I’m really enjoying my weekly Zumba class — it’s like a dance party. I also enjoy spending time with my family. Every year my husband and I will set our busy schedules aside, and take our daughter and son on a family vacation. We enjoy the fun and family bond that travel brings us.

Women in Science Wednesday highlights UNC researchers at all levels of their careers across dozens of fields. From medicine to mathematics to sociology, women at Carolina excel in research, mentorship, and advocacy. Click here to nominate an exceptional scientist.