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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.


  • NSF, Senior Personnel, SCC-IRG Track 2: A data-driven approach to designing a community-focused indoor heat emergency alert system for vulnerable residents (CommHEAT)
  • 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 Environment

To improve the understanding of urban environment (e.g., thermal and atmosphere) by using satellite remote sensing and other data


Urban Ecosystem

To explore the impact of urban environmental changes on ecosystem (e.g. phenology) in urban areas and its implications (e.g. pollen allergy)

urban vegetation

Urban Energy

To explore urban energy demand in high spatial/temporal resolutions and its response to external drivers for offering  insights for climate policy and energy system planning


Environmental Sustainability

To explore implications of urbanization and urban environmental changes for sustainable development in the context of climate change