Yipeng Zhou graduated from Zhejiang University with a major in Russian Language and Literature. He spent his junior year in Moscow, where he studied Russian philology at Peoples' Friendship University of Russia. His undergraduate research mainly focused on Russian theater and dramatic literature. During his study abroad program he travelled through Transcaucasia and Uzbekistan. His travel to these former Soviet national republics, together with his experience of being a foreign Asian in Russia, motivated him to explore Soviet nationality problems and their legacies. In particular, he is interested in Russian/Soviet involvement in Xinjiang in the 19th and 20th centuries. During his college years he interned at Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Xinhua News Agency, and worked as interpreter for several cultural and technical exchange programs between China and Russia/Central Asia.