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Zheng is a native of Yin County (now Yinzhou District) of Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, and was born in Jinan of Shandong Province. He obtained a BS from Tsinghua University in 1947, and his MS and PhD from California Institute of Technology.
Zheng served as Director of the Institute of Mechanics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), President of the Chinese Mechanical Society, and Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Journal of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (中国力学学报).
Honors and awards
- 1980, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences 
- 1993, Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering 
- 1993, Tan Kah Kee Science Award 
- 1994, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering
- 2012, State Preeminent Science and Technology Award 
- "China Vita" Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2017