Cindy Huang
Cindy Huang. Photo:Abby Cohn

Long after a visit to the Pakistan-China border in 1999, Cindy Huang yearned to know more about Central Asia and its extraordinary people.

While a Berkeley doctoral candidate in anthropology, Cindy got that opportunity. She spent 2007 in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, living with the Uyghurs, a Muslim group with a rich tradition along the legendary Silk Road, and studying their unique culture. “A lot of people don’t know who the Uyghurs are,” she says. Cindy’s research, supported by Berkeley fellowships, investigates how Uyghur women perceive themselves and have been shaped by momentous changes over their lifetimes. Fellowship funding “really gave me a feeling of intellectual freedom,” says Cindy, who graduated cum laude from Yale and holds a master’s from Princeton.

Cindy describes Islam and China as “probably the two greatest forces shaping our future” and believes there’s much to be learned from the Uyghurs. Cindy, who grew up in suburban Chicago, completed her Ph.D. in December and hopes to have her dissertation published. She recently joined the State Department as a policy adviser for the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.

—By Abby Cohn