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B.S., Land Resource Management, College of Land Science and Technology, China Agricultural University
M.S., Urban Development Planning, The Bartlett School of the Built Environment, University College London
M.S., Historic Preservation (Urban Conservation and GIS), Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

Li's research focuses on the impacts of spatial factors, particular neighborhood environmental features and characteristics, on obesity-related behaviors and outcomes.

Li has an educational background in environmental and urban planning. Before starting his Population, Health, and Place Ph.D. program, Li taught at the University of Miami School of Architecture and Department of Geography as a full-time lecturer between 2013-16. He offered courses including Urban Information System, Spatial Planning, WebGIS, GIS programming, and Urban Simulation. Li also worked as a GIS consultant for Dover, Kohl, and Partners, a town design and planning firm that focuses on revitalizing traditional towns, building great new places, growing neighborhoods, and fixing sprawl by design.

In his first two years in the Population, Health, and Place Ph.D. program, Li was a research assistant at USC REACH (Real-Time Eating & Children's Health) lab. Under Dr. Genevieve Dunton and Dr. John Wilson's supervision, Li worked with Beau MacDonald in generating GIS-based neighborhood environmental context data for the NIH-funded MATCH (Mothers And Their Children's Health) study and investigated environmental contexts as potential moderators and covariates of the associations between maternal stress and children's dietary intake, physical activity, and obesity. Li's work has resulted in a list of publications. For instance, his latest 2021 publication found neighborhood park coverage protected against physical activity declines in children aged 9-12 years old.

Li worked as a research assistant for Dr. Rima Habre and Dr. Tyler Mason in his third year supported by a grant funded by Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute. Together, they developed a geospatial toolkit to investigate within-day and daily spatiotemporal covariations in geospatial contexts, environmental exposures, bio-behavioral responses, and obesity risk. As part of the project's outcomes, Li published a literature review article that discusses the current state-of-art of applying GPS in assessing contextual exposure to the built environment in physical activity studies.

Li is currently working on his dissertation research under the guidance of his co-chairs Dr. Genevieve Dunton and Dr. John Wilson, and his dissertation committee member Dr. Rima Habre. Li's dissertation examines environmental exposure and health disparities in a group of Hispanic, primarily low-income, pregnant women in urban Los Angeles. Through integrating smartphone recorded geographical location data (GPS, Wi-fi networks), physical activity monitors (accelerometer), and mobile surveying techniques (Ecological Momentary Assessment or EMA), Li aims to disentangle the complexities of relationships among human mobility and time-activity patterns, environmental exposures, and physical activity behaviors.

As a 5th-year Ph.D. candidate, Li is entering the academic job market. Feel free to reach out to him via email or Twitter @liyispatial for any potential job opportunities.

For more information on Li and his research, please visit