Geoinformatics for Food, Energy, and Water

My research focuses on interdisciplinary research agenda on food, energy, water, and their dependent social systems. As our society depends on sustainable supplies of food, energy and water resources embedded in diverse geographic and social contexts, innovative solutions to characterize and understand the system is critical to cope with imminent environmental and social challenges such as climate change and social inequality. 

Water Sustainability

As groundwater resources have been increasingly susceptible to climate variability and change in many semi-arid regions, there is a critical need to understand the challenges of sustainable water resource management and to develop coping strategies. Groundwater sustainability can be understood from a social-ecological system (SES) perspective, or viewed as a critical part of Food, Energy, Water (FEW) nexus.

Related Grants

PI, Economic Impacts of Changes in Snowpack on Irrigated Agriculture in the Western United States. 09/2023-08/2024, USDA Economic Research Service.

PI, Converging Earth Science and Sustainability Education and Experience to Prepare Next-Generation Geoscientists. 01/2023- 12/2027, Co-PIs: H. Henson, L. Duram, J. Schoof, W. Williams. awarded by National Science Foundation

PI, Assessing the Vulnerability of Public Water Systems to Droughts with an Integrated Remote Sensing and Social Sensing Approach. 09/01/2023 – 08/31/2024, Illinois Water Resources Center.

Advising PI, A Socio-hydrological Framework for Assessing Groundwater Sustainability in an Irrigated Agricultural Landscape, 09/01/2021-12/31/2023, Student PI: A. Naliaka. awarded by the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) Program.

PI, Characterization of Groundwater Recharge Dynamics in the Unsaturated Zone Using Hydrologic Models in the Central Platte River Basin. 06/01/2018-08/31/2020, Co-PI: G. Ou, awarded by Central Platte Natural Resources District.

PI, Developing IT Applications to Assist in Communicating Hydrogeologic Information for Public Engagement, 05/01/2016-06/30/2018, awarded by Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

PI, Evaluation of Water Resources in Response to Management Scenarios in the Central Valley, California, 05/01/2015-07/31/2015, awarded by Natural Resources Defense Council.

AI and Big Data for FEW

I currently work on three projects related to AI and Big Data for food, energy, and water research: (1) Using GeoAI to identify hydraulic drainage structures (i.e., culverts and bridges) for terrain-based drainage modeling (water), (2) Using social media and machine learning to examine the public perception of fossil-fuel and renewable energies (energy), and (3) Using drone images and AI to identify crop diseases (food). 

Related Grants

PI, Enhancing High-resolution Terrain Data Model for Improving the Delineation of Multi-scale Hydrological Connectivity. 06/2020-11/2022, Co-PI: B. Rekabdar, G. Wang, awarded by National Science Foundation (Geography and Spatial Science).

Co-PI, Collaborative Research: CyberTraining: Pilot: Research Workforce Development for Deep Learning Systems in Advanced GPU Cyberinfrastructure. 12/2022-11/2024, PI: T. Shu, National Science Foundation.

PI, Using Drone-based Multispectral Imaging to Examine Spatiotemporal Patterns of Soybean Nematode Cyst. 8/16/23-8/15/25, awarded by Illinois Soybean Center

Co-PI, Using Multispectral Platforms to Manage Soybean Cyst Nematode. 09/2020-08/2023, PI: J. Bond, awarded by Illinois Soybean Association.

Co-PI, HAB Early Mitigation by Magnetic Photocatalysts. 12/01/2020-11/30/2024, PI: J. Liu, awarded by U.S. EPA 

PI, Characterization of Harmful Algal Blooms Using Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Watershed Analysis in Southern Illinois, 03/01/2018-08/28/2019, CO-PI: J. Liu, D. Wu, awarded by Illinois Water Resources Center.

PI, Social Media Footprints of Public Perception on Energy Issues and Their Policy Implications, 07/01/2017-06/30/2018, CO-PI: Justin Schoof, Energy Boost Seed Grant awarded by SIU Advanced Coal and Energy Research Center 

Smart and Connected Rural Communities

Concerning potential widening rural-urban divide in smart society and community development, my research attempts to (1) understand smart divide by analyzing gaps in both physical and social infrastructures, and (2) smart connectivity solutions for rural health and disaster resilience. In 2020, we proposed an emerging concept - smart divide - in a paper of Annals of AAG.

Related Grants

PI, EAGER: SAI: Understanding and Bridging the Smart Technology Infrastructure Divide in Rural America . 09/2021-8/2023, Co-PI: J. Crowe, K. Chen, awarded by National Science Foundation

PI, Preparing for 2024 Total Solar Eclipse: A Social Sensing Approach for Understanding Human Mobility in Southern Illinois, 01/01/2021-12/31/2021, SIU Foundation Board Research Award