Xiaodong Zou received her Bachelor of Science in Physics 1984 at Peking University and Master of Science in Metal Physics 1986 at Beijing University of Technology, under the supervision of Prof. K.H. Kuo. In 1987 she moved to Sweden to pursue her Ph.D. study and received her PhD in structural chemistry at Stockholm University in 1995. She carried out her postdoctoral research at Lund University, working with the Tage Erlander Professor David R. Veblen from John Hopkins University, USA. She joined the faculty at Stockholm University in 1996 and became professor 2005.

One of her main research interests is method development for accurate atomic structure determination of nano-sized crystals by electron crystallography. Her group has solved a number of complex structures of zeolites and mesoporous crystals by transmission electron microscopy. She is also working on synthesis, structure determination, topology analysis and applications of inorganic open-framework materials and metal-organic frameworks. In 2006, she received 100 MSEK from VR and VINNOVA to build up the Berzelii Center EXSELENT on Porous Materials and was the director 2006-2012. She has > 300 publications and five patents. Her group developed 10 software for quantitative analysis of high-resolution electron microscopy images and electron diffraction patterns. The software has been commecialized and used by > 200 laboratories.

She received several awards including Tage Erlander Prize for Science and Technology 2002 and Göran Gustafsson Prize in Chemistry 2008, both given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the K.H. Kuo Award for Distinguished Scientist 2010 and the Arrhenius medal 2012 given by the Swedish Chemical Society.

She has been recongnised as a Wallenberg Scholar and a Distinquished Professor of the Swedish Research Council.

She is appointed as a member of the Nobel Committee in Chemistry,  an elected member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (KVA), member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA), Fellow of the Royal Chemical Society (FRCS),  council member of the International Zeolite Association, and member of Structure Commission of International Zeolite Association.