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Environmental Sustainability Lab (ESL)

Our lab research interests lie in the applications of geospatial technologies including remote sensing, GIS, geovisualization, spatial analytic tools, and integrated assessment modeling to understanding the problems of environmental change and their potential solutions for a sustainable environment. We are working in research areas concerning Environmental Sustainability.


  • CGRER, co-PI, Differentiating vulnerability to climate change in the US urban and rural areas
  • NASA, mentor of postdoc co-PI, Assessing the impact of urban land conversion on local and regional surface climate and its socio-economic consequence in Western North Africa
  • NASA, co-PI, Global Electricity Consumption on a Warming, Urbanizing Planet using NASA's Black Marble Product Suite
  • NSF, PI, Integrated assessments of urbanization impacts on building energy use for urban energy sustainability
  • NASA, PI (Lin Meng: Future Investigator), Disentangling the Effects of Nighttime Lights and Temperature on Urban Phenology Using Remote Sensing Data
  • NSF, co-PI, INFEWS / T1: Social and biophysical models to integrate local food systems, climate dynamics, built forms, and environmental impacts in the urban FEWS nexus
  • NSF, PI, Collaborative Research PREEVENTS Track 2: Land-atmosphere feedbacks over urban terrain under heat waves
  • DOE-ORNL, PI, Phenology Modeling
  • NSF, PI, Water Sustainability at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus under Urbanization and Climate Change
  • CGRER, co-PI, Extreme Heat Adaptation Strategies for Buildings and Neighborhoods in the Upper Midwest Using Novel Urban Energy Modeling Techniques
  • DOE-PNNL, PI, Urban heat island and its implications in building energy use and phenology
  • NSF, co-PI, A Framework for Assessing the Impact of Extreme Heat and Drought on Urban Energy Production and Consumption
  • Iowa Energy Center, PI, Developing a Landscape of Building Energy Use for the City of Des Moines, Iowa
  • NASA, co-PI, Ecosystem and Human System Dynamics: Indicators of Phenology, Climate, and Urbanization
  • NASA, co-PI, Atmospheric Composition: Modeling and Analysis, Improved Information on Recent Aerosol Emissions and Trends Within A Community Emissions Data System Using Satellite Data
  • DOE, PI, Improving GCAM Building Energy Use Modeling by Adding a Satellite-seeded Spatially Explicit Urban Expansion Component
  • NASA, PI, Land-Cover/Land-Use Change for Early Career Scientists, Understanding and Simulating Global Urban Expansion in the Context of Climate Change

Research Areas

Urban Mapping & Modeling

To improve the understanding of historical urban expansion, its socioeconomic drivers, and potential future urban expansion.


Urban Heat Island

To quantify urban heat island formation, its growth under urbanization, and UHI impacts on environment and human life


Urban Vegetation

To monitor the change of urban environment and investigate impacts of urbanization on vegetation

urban vegetation

Urban Building

To estimate urban building energy use in high spatial temporal resolution and explore the impact of extreme events  for offering  insights into climate policy and energy system planning


Environmental Sustainability

To investigate renewable energy resources from regional to global scales (e.g., ind, Solar, Hydropower, Biomass) for environmental sustainability