Dr. Li Brings GIS Innovation to UCF

Li - GISYingru Li, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in GIS (Geographical Information Systems) at the department of sociology. Dr. Li’s research primarily focuses on Geographical Information Systems and spatial statistics, environmental health, and economic/urban geography. She received a master’s degree in GIS at University of Cincinnati (2006) and obtained her Ph.D. degree in Geography at University of Utah (2012). Before joining UCF, Li spent three years on the geography faculty at Auburn University. Her research includes topics on socioeconomic inequalities, health and health care disparities, childhood obesity, retail location analysis and planning, water quality and environmental pollution, as well as geospatial modeling.

GIS stands for Geographical Information Systems or Geographic Information Science. It is a powerful information system that improves our ability to collect, store, retrieve, manage, analyze, and report information on the earth’s surface, and to integrate those with economic, social, environmental, and ecological information. These technologies have been utilized by a wide range of areas closely related to our lives, and therefore the GIS industry is projected for continuous growth in the U.S. and around the world.

Spatial concepts like scale, space, and distance, have always been critical factors for understanding various social phenomena, for example, social inequality and poverty, crime patterns, public health, and human behaviors. GIS provides capability not only to integrate spatial thinking into social science research but also to bridge social and natural sciences.

Currently, Dr. Li is examining the interactions between social and environmental injustices and children’s behaviors, psychosocial well beings, and weight status in southern rural areas. She is also focusing on heavy metal contamination and the impacts on public health, regional inequality, industrial restructuring, and spatial agglomeration in China.

“I’m very excited and honored to join UCF. I believe that the high-quality faculty and students in the department of sociology and across campus will provide great opportunities to broaden my research and teaching interests.” Dr. Li hopes to work with colleagues to expand the GIS curriculum and develop a geospatial certificate program. She wants to “utilize [her] geospatial skills and multidisciplinary background to promote collaboration across various disciplines, and thereby contribute to the vibrant academic environment at UCF.”


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