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Ph.D., Population, Health and Place, University of Southern California
M.S., Architectural and Urban Conservation, The Stuart Weitzman School of Design, University of Pennsylvania
M.Sc., Urban Development Planning, The Bartlett School of the Built Environment, University College London
B.S., Land Resource Management, College of Land Science and Technology, China Agricultural University

Li Yi, Ph.D., is a 2022 graduate of the USC Population, Health and Place Ph.D. program. Dr. Yi’s research focuses on the impacts of spatial factors, particularly built and natural environments, on health behaviors and chronic diseases.

Dr. Yi has an educational and training background in environmental and urban planning. Before starting his Population, Health, and Place Ph.D. program, Dr. Yi taught at the University of Miami School of Architecture and Department of Geography and Sustainable Development as a full-time lecturer between 2013-16, where he offered courses including Urban Information Analysis and Modeling, GIS in Urban Design, WebGIS, Geospatial Visualization, and Smart City. Dr. Yi also worked as a GIS consultant for Dover, Kohl & Partners, a town design and planning firm that focuses on revitalizing traditional towns, building great new places, growing neighborhoods, and fixing sprawl by design.

During his time in the Population, Health, and Place Ph.D. program, Dr. Yi worked as a graduate research assistant at USC REACH (Real-Time Eating & Children's Health) lab. Under Dr. Genevieve Dunton and Dr. John Wilson's supervision, Dr. Yi 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. This work has resulted in a list of publications, including his latest 2021 publication that found neighborhood park coverage protected against physical activity declines in children aged 9-12 years old.

Supported by a grant funded by Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Dr. Yi also worked with Dr. Rima Habre and Dr. Tyler Mason to develop 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, Dr. Yi 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.

Dr. Yi’s dissertation examines environmental exposure and health disparities in a group of Hispanic, primarily low-income, pregnant women in urban Los Angeles. Under the guidance of his co-chairs Dr. Genevieve Dunton and Dr. John Wilson, and his dissertation committee member Dr. Rima Habre, he integrated smartphone location data (GPS), physical activity monitors (accelerometer), and mobile surveying techniques (Ecological Momentary Assessment or EMA) to disentangle the complexities of relationships among human mobility and time-activity patterns, environmental exposures, and physical activity behaviors. His first dissertation paper on time-activity and daily mobility patterns of pregnant women has recently been accepted for publication at Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology. His second and third papers that examine women’s daily exposure to greenness and walkable environments and its association with their physical activity outcomes during pregnancy and postpartum are also in various stages of publication.

Dr. Yi will be joining The Spatial and Contextual Exposomics and Epidemiology Laboratory at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH) as a postdoctoral fellow in July 2022, where he will be working with Dr. Peter James on the Nurses’ Health Study 3 Mobile Health Substudy data.

For more information on Dr. Li Yi and his research, please visit Also, feel free to follow his Twitter @liyispatial for any latest updates.