Activities and achievements of our members

News in 2021

  • July 22, 2021: Dr. Li An et al.'s review and perspectives article "Challenges, tasks, and opportunities in modeling agent-based complex systems" has been fully accepted (now in press) by Ecological Modelling. This article, initially submitted on June 25, was in a "fast lane" for acceptance.

  • July 08, 2021: Dr. Li An et al.'s review and perspectives article "Challenges, tasks, and opportunities in modeling agent-based complex systems" has been accepted (pending minor edits) by Ecological Modelling. This article reviews the advances of modeling agent-based complex systems (ACS) through agent based modeling (ABM), presents key issues of ABM in social, ecological, and socio-ecological systems, compares ABM with other traditional, equation-based models, and provides guidelines for ABM novice, modelers, and reviewers. Towards the end, this article points out the challenges and impending tasks that need to be addressed for the ABM community.

  • July 01, 2021: Dr. Li An's chapter "Complexity" for for Handbook of Spatial Analysis in the Social Sciences (Edward Elgar Publishing; Book editors: Sergio Rey and Rachel Franklin) has been accepted. This chapter presents prevailing features of complex systems, including heterogeneous subsystems and/or autonomous entities that are subject to links featuring nonlinear relationships and multiple interactions among them. Aside from a case study at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China, this chapter offers several “best practices” for complexity scientists and ABM modelers, popular toolkits and platforms for ABM novice, and impending tasks that need to be addressed for better untangling complexity in complex human-environment systems. This chapter concludes by pointing out new opportunities arising from data science and artificial intelligence.

  • May 12, 2021: By invitation from Drs. Marcin Czupryna and Bogumil Kaminski on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the Social Simulation Conference 2021, Dr. Li An has accepted to serve as a keynote speaker. "The SSC 2021 is the 16th annual Social Simulation Conference, and will take place from 20th to 24th September 2021. The conference is one of the key activities of the European Social Simulation Association (ESSA), aimed at promoting social simulation and computational social science in Europe and elsewhere" (quote from Dr. Czupryna). Dr An will talk about agent based modelling in the context of space-time analysis and/or city planning. The targeted audience are scientists interested in applications of simulations/agent based-modelling to social sciences. Selected conference papers will appear in a special issue of JASSS

  • April 13, 2021: Drs. Li An, Conghe Song, and Madeline M. Giefer have successfully organized a symposium titled "Complexities in payments for ecosystem services programs" at the annual meeting of IALE-North America. Below are the presenters:

      Huijie Zhang, San Diego State University
      Madeline Giefer, Austin Peay State University
      Dominique Cagalanan, Coastal Carolina University
      Robert Gilmore Pontius Jr., Clark University
      Qi Zhang, Boston University
      Ying Wang, China University of Geosciences (Wuhan)
      Li An, San Diego State University

    The meeting was well attended, followed by a discussion of submitting a book proposal to a certain publisher. The book might contain such topics as social-demographic and ecological consequences of payments for ecosystem services (PES), drivers and mechanisms behind PES participation, methodological issues in PES research, and complexities in PES theory, design, application, and evaluation. During the symposium, Dr. Li An gave a talk titled “Spillover effects among global green efforts in a COVID-19 spreading world”.

  • April 12, 2021: By invitation from the journal Remote Sensing, Dr. Jie Dai has accepted to serve as guest editor of a special issue entitled “Landscape Ecology in Remote Sensing”. Dr. Li An will provide help in this special issue. Dr. Jie Dai, a former member of CHES, is now a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science at Arizona State University.

  • April 08, 2021: By invitation from the journal Sustainability, Dr. Eve Bohnett has accepted to serve as guest editor of a special issue entitled “Biodiversity and ecosystem services in forest ecosystems and species biodiversity” (tentative title). Dr. Li An will be a co-guest editor in this special issue. We will refine the Special Issue's title and scope, provide a short introduction (100–200 words) and 5–10 keywords, and set up the Special Issue website shortly. The Special Issue might include 10 articles.

  • March 12, 2021: Dr. Li An was invited to join the host committee for the 2022 IALE-NA meeting to be held in Riverside, California. Together with Dr. G. Darrel Jenerette, Dr. Janet Franklin, and a few other scholars at University of California, Riverside, the committee will focus on finalizing plenary speakers and thinking out field trips in the coming several months.

  • February 9, 2021: A paper titled "Neighborhood impacts on household participation in payments for ecosystem services programs in a Chinese nature reserve: A methodological exploration" has been accepted for publication at Journal of Geographical Sciences. Doctoral student Huijie Zhang led the paper with contribution from coauthors Li An, Richard Bilsborrow, Yongwan Chun, Shuang Yang, and Jie Dai. Congratulations Huijie!

  • January 29, 2021: Dr. Li An and associates are leading a mentorship program for IALE-North America, which aims to pair professional landscape ecologists with undergraduate and graduate students with career goals possibly related to landscape ecology at its annual meeting. More detail is available here.

  • January 04, 2021: CHES member Dr. Jie Dai has received and accepted an offer from the Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science (GDCS) at Arizona State University. Jie will be Postdoctoral Research Scholar advised by Dr. Greg Asner. He will start his new position on Feb 1, 2021 (to be renewed annually), working on airborne and satellite-based imaging spectroscopy. Congratulations Jie!

News in 2020

  • December 11, 2020: One of Dr. Jie Dai's dissertation based papers, "Community forest green vegetation cover has steadily increased since their establishments in Western Chitwan, Nepal" (coauthors: Dar A. Roberts, Douglas A. Stow, Li An, and Qunshan Zhao), has been officically published at Remote Sensing. Congratulations Jie!

  • December 2, 2020: SDSU NewsCenter reported Dr. Li An's recognition as AAAS Fellow in today's news titled "Leading Scientist Elected as an AAAS Fellow". Over the past several days SDSU Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation Dr. Hala Madanat, Dean of Arts and Letters Dr. Monica J. Casper, and many colleagues, students, and friends congratulated Dr. Li An.

  • November 24, 2020: Dr. Li An has been nominated and elected as a Fellow of The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a lifetime distinction awarded to leading scientists across the world. Dr. An was recognized for his "distinguished contributions to complex human-environmental systems theory and methodological breakthroughs in modeling human decisions, agent-based modeling, land survival & latent trajectory analysis”. Thanks and glorify to God!

  • November 5, 2020: Drs. Li An, Conghe Song (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), and Dapeng Li (South Dakota State Universit) have started guest-editing a special issue entitled "Understanding complex human-environment systems: theoretical and application issues" in Earth Interactions, the major journal of American Meteorological Society. This special issue will include papers that reflect most recent advancements in theory and application related to understanding complex human-environment systems. The submission deadline is May 31, 2021.

  • September 09, 2020: Jeanne Patton did an excellent job of presenting and defending her master's thesis entitled "Conifer Seedling Survivorship Following Post-fire Reforestation at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park". Her committee members--Drs. Li An and John O'Leary (co-chairs) and Dr. Alicia Kinoshita (Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering)--unanimously passed her defense. Congratulations Jeanne!

  • September 04, 2020: Jie Dai successfully defended his dissertation titled "The Tale of Western Chitwan Community Forests: Historical Vegetation Dynamics and the Challenges with the Invasion of Mikania micrantha". His committee members--Professor Dar A. Roberts, Professor Douglas A. Stow, Professor Phaedon C. Kyriakidis, and Professor Li An (Chair)--unanimously praised his dissertation and defense presentation. The committee were very impressed by the great work he did and gave him a strong pass. Jie also addressed very well the questions from the audience after his defense presentation. Congratulations Jie!

  • August 20, 2020: Welcome Yanjing (Tracy) Liu, new Master's student and Ren Cao, new doctoral student to the CHES Center! Before joining SDSU, Ren received his master's degree in Environmental Policy from Duke University and Duke Kunshan University (China). Tracy received her master's degree in Environmental Science (minor in anthropology) from University of Virginia, Charlottesville. See more information about them here. Welcome Tracy and Ren!

  • August 5, 2020: Dr. Li An made an online keynote speech titled "The third way of doing science in agent-based complex systems", which was part of the International Symposium on Social Simulation 2020, August 6, 2020, held at Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China. The symposium was attended by over 90 participants, including many outstanding scholars from the US, Europe, and Asia.

  • August 5, 2020: Jie's paper, entitled "Mapping understory invasive plant species with field and remotely sensed data in Chitwan, Nepal", has been accepted for publication at Remote Sensing of Environment (Impact factor: 9.085). This paper is one chapter of his dissertation, utilizing "Landsat imagery, spectral mixture analysis (SMA) and a maximum entropy (Maxent) modeling framework to map the spatial extent of Mikania micrantha in Chitwan National Park, Nepal and its buffer zone community forests". For background of this paper, see our former NSF CNH project's website. Congratulations Jie!

  • July 21, 2020: A research paper, titled "Understanding the direct and indirect effects of Payment for Ecosystem Services on resource use and wildlife" (led by Dr. H.L. Chen), has been accepted for publication at Anthropocene. This paper examines the effects of payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs on human socioeconomic activities and on wildlife habitat use based on data collected at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China. For background of this paper, see our former NSF CNH project's website.

  • July 17, 2020: Welcome Eve T. Bohnett! Eve is a PhD candidate at Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida. She is working now as a part-time researcher for the CNH2 project. Once she defends her dissertation in the fall semester, she will join the CHES Center and Dr. Lewison's Conservation Ecology Lab as a full-time postdoctoral research fellow. Welcome Eve!

  • July 17, 2020: Interim Dean Dr. Glen McClish and Associate Dean Dr. Madhavi McCall informed Dr. Li An that an office room, AL 471, is officially allocated to the CHES Center in addition to AL 578. We will consider a renovation of the space once the Covid-19 is over.

  • June 18, 2020: Congratulations to Alexandra (Ali) Yost, who successfully defended her thesis titled "A longitudinal study evaluating the effects of payments for ecosystem services on species richness". Drs. Lewison, Nara, Chen, and An unanimously approved her thesis and presentation.

  • May 18, 2020: Dr. Li An has accepted an invitation to serve as board member of The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS). According to Prof. Flaminio Squazzoni (Editor of JASSS), "JASSS is indexed in WoS and Scopus and its impact factor is increasing (2.2 in 2018, but we expect a growth in the next years)".

  • May 13, 2020: Dr. Li An was elected to be Councillor-at-large and memeber of the 2020-2022 Executive Committee for the International Association of Landscape Ecology - North America (IALE-NA). IALE-NA is a prestigious international organization that promotes research, practice, education, and outreach activities in relation to landscape ecology. Its members come from the US, Canada, and Mexico.

  • May 11, 2020: Dr. Li An gave a talk at the North American Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE-North America) 2020 Annual Meeting (May 11-14, Remote Virtual Conference). He presented his research titled "Do links Exist Among Concurrent Payments for Nature's Services? Global Challenges and Opportunities" (previous title: "Do Crosslinks Exist Among Concurrent Payments for Ecosystem Services? A Global Challenge"). Here is the recorded video.

  • April 22, 2020: Dr. Li An has been nominated and elected as an SDSU senator. "The University Senate is where SDSU's major constituencies weigh in on an array of policy decisions" (SDSU Senate website).

  • March 12, 2020: Due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Dr. Li An moved both courses GEOG 104 (Geographic Information Science) and GEOG 506 (Landscape Ecology) to online teaching. All teaching activities are performed online--e.g., Zoom is used for lectures and Blackboard for home assignments, tests, and quizzes. Teaching assistants Blair Mirka and Keaton Shannon have been very helpful in posting and grading course work.

  • February 17, 2020: Welcome Bo Xiong, visiting student from East China Normal University! Bo is a PhD student with backgroound in physical geography, and his interest lies in the coupling of land use, ecosystems, and human environment.

  • January 18, 2020: Dr. Li An traveled to Beijing, Zhengzhou, and then Taihanshan National Nature Reserve (TNNR) for future collaboration in the NSF CNH2 project titled "CNH-L: People, Place, and Payments in Complex Human-Environment Systems" (2018-2023, PI: Dr. Li An). The trip was successful, and Dr. Hongyan Liu at PKU and Mr. Jiyun Yu at Henan Department of Natural Resources (Deputy Director) both offered great help. Drs. Liu and An visited the headquarters of TNNR and talked to local reserve leaders, managers, and villagers.

News in 2019

  • December 10, 2019: Vice President Stephen Welter, College of Arts and Letters, and Department of Geography all agreed to provide financial support for the CHES Center. The Center will have its office at Storm Hall in the spring 2020 semester, and be relocated to Arts and Letters building from the 2020 summer.

  • November 27, 2019: SDSU President de la Torre, Director of SDSU Sponsored Research Contracting and Compliance Sandra M. Nordahl, and Dean of College of Urban and Environmental Sciences (Peking University) Dr. Canfei He have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU hereafter) Regarding the Complex Human-Environment Systems Center between San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego State University Research Foundation, and College of Urban and Environmental Sciences (CUES), Peking University (PKU). Prior to being sent out for signature, this MOU was sent to California State University Chancellor' office and received approval. This MOU provides terms for collaboration between SDSU faculty and CUES-PKU faculty thorough Dr. Li An's Complex Human-Environment Systems (CHES) Center. The CHES Center, approved in March 2019 by both SDSU and PKU, aims to promote scholarship, education, and outreach in the area of computational human-environmental science, building up the capacity of SDSU and PKU to become leading research universities in human-environmental science. The Center seeks to bring together researchers at SDSU, PKU and beyond to form a cluster of scholars engaged in externally funded, complementary research, integrating human and environment sciences that include ecology, biology, spatial science, geography, sociology, demography, and other related disciplines. In the near future, the CHES Center will play an important role in Dr. Li An's newly secured NSF CNH project "CNH-L: People, Place, and Payments in Complex Human-Environment Systems". The CHES Center has also received financial and space support from Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters, and Vice President Stephen Welter

  • November 22, 2019: Dr. An et al.'s article "Cascading impacts of payments for ecosystem services in complex human-environment systems" has been accepted for publication. This article builds an agent-based model to study the complex interactions among human livelihoods, payments for ecosystem services, and the Guizhou golden monkey habitat occupancy over 20 years using data from Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. This article is an outcome of Dr. Li An et al.'s previous NSF CNH project and ongoing NSF CNH2 project.

  • November 05, 2019: Dr. An et al.'s article "Editorial: Meeting Grand Challenges in Agent-Based Models" has been accepted for publication. This article is the editorial paper of the special issue "Meeting Grand Challenges in Agent-based Complex Systems" in Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation, for which Drs. Li An, Volker Grimm (Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany), and B.L. Turner II (Arizona State University) are guest editors. The special issue is an outcome of the NSF sponsored conference "Agent-Based Modeling (ABM) 17: A Symposium That Advances the Science of ABM".

  • October 14, 2019: Congratulations to Alexandra (Ali) Yost! Ali led a paper titled "Mechanisms behind concurrent payments for ecosystem services in a Chinese nature reserve" and was accepted for publication in a prestigious journal Ecological Economics (5-Year Impact Factor: 5.207 as of October 14, 2019). This paper explores latent mechanisms underlying enrollment decisions regarding payments for ecosystem services (PES), provides new insight about PES effectiveness, especially interrelationships between concurrent PES programs. Ali is an M.S. candidate at Department of Geography, San Diego State University.

  • Septermber 10, 2019: Alexandra (Ali) Yost defended her thesis proposal titled "Assessing effects of a PES program on species richness over time and space" successfully. Ali, M.S. student at Department of Geography, San Diego State University, has been working on data from Dr. Li An's NSF project. Her thesis utilizes "camera trapping data collected in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in Southwest China to inform a multi-species hierarchical model to estimate species richness, environmental characteristics of preferred habitat of wildlife, and the effects of human disturbance in relation to participation in a PES program called the Grain-to-Green-Program (GTGP)". Congratulations Ali!

  • August 26, 2019: Dr. Li An warpped up his one-year sabbatical leave and returned to San Diego with his family. During his leave in China, Dr. An worked on several papers in addition to starting up his recently funded NSF grant titled "CNH-L: People, Place, and Payments in Complex Human-Environment Systems". Also Dr. An and family visited Taiwan, Hongkong, Enshi (in Hubei Province) and several other places for sightseeing and other purposes within the sabbatical year.

  • July 14, 2019: Invited by Drs. Iris Lorscheid and Volker Grimm, Dr. Li An went to Hanover, Germany and attended a three-day symposium (July 10-12, 2019) held at Herrenhauen Palace Conference Center. The symposium, titled "Best Practice in Agent-Based Modeling for Theory Development" is the second part of a series of symposia sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation, consisting of three symposia taking place over the years 2018-2020 on the topic of "Theory building with ABM". In the first part, the state of research in the connection between theory and ABM was discussed, along with topics such as what the epistemological perspectives are and how theory and ABM currently come together. The second part deals with best practices, covering a range of topics like which methods can support theory development with ABM and how theory can / should find a place in the processes of modeling and model analysis. Around 30 ABM developers and users from Europe and USA attended the symposium.

  • May 10, 2019: Invited by Prof Yu Liu, Associate Dean of College of Earth and Spatial Sciences at Peking University, Dr. Li An gave a seminar titled "Space-Time Data Mining: Theory, Methodology, and Applications". Around 25 students from the college and other institutions attended the 1.5-hour seminar. For detail, see the news from Dr. Liu's group.

  • Dr. Li An at Renmin UniversityApril 24, 2019: In response to Prof Li Zhou's invitation, Dr. Li An went to Renmin University and gave a seminar titled "Complex Human-Environment Systems: Commonalities and Uniquenesses". Around 17 students from Prof Zhou's "Methods in Rural Development Research" class at College of Agriculture and Rural Development attended the seminar with enthusiasm, and raised excellent questions about multifinality, equifinality, the 4W (Who, Where, When, What) method, and so on regarding how to effectively explore and understand complex human-environment systems. Towards the end of the seminar, Prof Zhou presented Dr. An a wall scroll with Chinese calligraph “以便以谢" (Ebenezer, a blessing word that stands for triumph or posperity according to Samuel 4:1 in Old Testament)

  • March 27, 2019: The first PKU-SDSU forum on spatial data and complex human-environment systems was held at Zhong Guan Xin Yuan, Peking University. Organized by College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at PKU, the full-day forum focused on exploring the role of spatial data in advancing complex human-environmment systems research, promoting international and interdisciplinary collaboration, and advancing the new frontier field that aims to understand complex omplex human-environment systems (CHES). The forum attracted around 350 participants from all over China (e.g., people from Peking University, Tsinghua University, Chinese Axcademy of Sciences, Northwest University, Hebei Normal University, Jilin University,and Inner Mongolia Normal University). The seminars are made by seven internationally renowned scholars:

    • "Modeling complex geographic systems" by Dr. Michael F. Goodchild, Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara;
    • "Understanding and predicting the terrestrial biosphere in the anthropocene Era: Where we are, where we need to go" by Dr. Hanqin Tian, Professor at Auburn University;
    • "Recent trend of air pollution in China: A evaluation based on sectorially resolved emission inventories" by Dr. Shum Tao, Professor at Peking University;
    • "A new paradigm for analyzing remotely sensed big data" by Dr. Fang Qiu, Professor at University of Texas, Dallas;
    • "Complex human-environment systems: Commonalities and uniquenesses" by Dr. Li An, Professor at San Diego State University;
    • "Estimating the pressure of urban shrinkage at a global scale under the shared socioeconomic pathways using cellular automata" by Dr. Xia Li, Professor at East China Normal University;
    • "Integrating multi-source big geo-Data to understand cities" by Dr. Yu Liu, Professor at Peking University;
    SDSU PKU forum group

    The forum culminated with these seven wonderful seminars, followed by enthusiastic discussions about the concepts, theory, and methods in exploring complex human-environment systems.

  • March 06, 2019: Dr. Li An's proposal for establishing "Complex Human-Environment Systems (CHES) Center" has been approved by SDSU Deans Council on March 06. CHES is an international research hub for integrating complex systems theory and human-environment science. The CHES Center is jointly sponsored by San Diego State University (operated by College of Arts and Letters) and Peking University (operated by College of Urban and Environmental Sciences or CUES). The SDSU-PKU CHES Center aims to promote scholarship, education, and outreach in the area of human-environmental science, building up the capacity of SDSU and PKU to become leading research universities in human-environmental science. The Center seeks to bring together researchers at SDSU, PKU, and beyond to form a cluster of scholars engaged in externally funded, complementary research, integrating human and environment sciences.

  • January 30, 2019: Dr. Haiyan Wang, visting scholar from Beijing Forestry Unviersity (December 2017 ~ December 2018), has recently published a paper entitled "A park recommendation algorithm based on user reviews and ratings" (by Wang, C., H. Wang, J. Pi, and L. An) at International Journal of Performability Engineering. This paper, partially sponsored by San Diego State University (SDSU), was completed and submitted during Dr. Wang's stay at SDSU. Congratulations!

News in 2018

  • December 1, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited to give a colloquium at the Geography and Environment Forum annually held at Peking University (PKU). His colloquium was entitled "Understanding and envisioning complex human-environment systems: A multi-scale integrated approach", which was attended by students and faculty from PKU (mostly College of Urban and Environmental Sciences or CUES) and visitors from the whole country (China). Dr. An also joined the lunch reception hosted by CUES leaders

  • November 3, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited to give a colloquium entitled “Spatial spillover effects and policy coordination” at Peking University. The colloquium was part of at Modernization of Spatial Governance Forum held at School of Government, Peking University.

  • November 2, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited to give a second seminar entitled “Agent-based models in social and human-environment sciences: Achievements, challenges, and policy implications” at Peking University. The seminar was part of the Overseas Scholar Program at Peking University.

  • October 26, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited to give a seminar entitled “Understanding and envisioning complex human-environment systems: A multi-scale integrated approach” at Peking University. The seminar was part of the Overseas Scholar Program at Peking University.

  • September 18, 2018: SDSU president Adela de la Torre, interim Provost Joseph Johnson, and College of Arts and Letters Dean Norma Bouchard congratulated Dr. Li An and team on the recently awarded grant. Also congresswoman Susan Davis' office sent a message to congratulate Dr. Li An and team.

"Congratulations!!! This is fabulous news. We are so proud of this important NSF award."

"Congratulations on this impressive accomplishment! We look forward to supporting this important scholarly endeavor."

"Am so happy for you and your team!! Congratulations! This is absolutely terrific news. I am humbled and honored to part of your continued success. You make the College and SDSU so proud. I am copying Steve, the Provost, and the President. Am sure they will be delighted to hear."

"Thank you for your tremendous efforts. I extend by best wishes to you all. You will receive a letter shortly explaining the details of your grant. Please let us know Congresswoman Davis and myself can be of assistance."

  • September 16, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited,as alumni representative, to give a speech at the 2018 openning ceremoney of the College of Urban and Environment Sciences (CUES) at Peking University. During the ceremony in the afternoon of September 16, 2018, Prof Liu Gengnian, representative of CUES, presented gifts to Dr. An. Here is his speech in PDF.

  • September 14, 2018: Dr. Li An was invited to give a colloquium at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His talk is entitled "Understanding and envisioning complex human-environment systems: A Multi-scale integrated approach". The colloquium was well attended with many great questions. The slides can be found here.

  • September 12, 2018: Dr. Li An (PI) and his team have received an official notice from NSF: The proposal entitled "CNH-L: People, Place, and Payments in Complex Human-Environment Systems" has been funded! The award is $1.45 million from 2018 to 2022, which explores complex interactions among multiple PES programs implemented at same sites or contracted to same stakeholders. This new award builds upon the recently wrapped-up CNH project entitled "Impacts of Ecosystem Service Payments in Coupled Natural and Human Systems" (PI: Dr. Li An; 2012-2017).

  • August 16, 2018: Welcome new PhD student Huijie Zhang to San Diego! Huijie received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Huazhong Agricultural University (China) in 2011 and 2014, respectively. She received her second M.S. degree in Applied Ecology from Stony Brook Univerisity in 2017. With experience in programming and statistical modeling, Huijie intends to "pursue advanced research in quantitative environmental science", and may work on modeling complex human-environment systems. Welcome also to join the CHES group!

  • August 13, 2018: CHES member Judy mak successfully defended her thesis entitled "Agent-Based Modeling of Rhinopithecus Brelichi Population and Movements in the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve" on August 13, 2018. The thesis committee members (Rebecca Lewison, Nara, and An) were unanimous in their decision and commended Judy for her great work. Congratulations Judy!

  • May 14, 2018: Drs. Li An, Volker Grimm, Billie L. Turner II, and Robert Axtell proposed to launch a special issue entitled “Meeting Grand Challenges in Agent-based Complex Systems” at The Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation (JASSS). JASSS Editor-in-Chief Dr. Flaminio Squazzoni and the editorial board approved the special issue proposal. More detail is posted at this site.

  • May 10, 2018: Dr. Li An was selected as recipient of the Excellence in Research Award at the College of Arts and Letters, San Diego State University. The award is given annually to one faculty member who manitains an execellent record of "research activity, quality of publishing venues, grants and/or awards, and national and international impact and reputation". Dr. Li An received his Excellence in Research Award certificate from Dr. Norma Bouchard, Dean of the SDSU College of Arts and Letters. The award was presented in the college wide reception during 11 am and 1 pm on May 10, 2018, in which department chairs, directors, CAL faculty, and staff at Dean's office attended.

  • April 27, 2018: Congratulations to Jie Dai and Alexandra (Ali) Yost! Jie was recipient of the William & Vivian Finch award for remote sensing, and Ali the Alvena Storm Memorial Scholarship in this academic year. Around 50 faculty, staff, students, allumni, family members, and friends of SDSU Geography attended the award ceremony.

  • March 26, 2018: Dr. Li An went to China on March 26, and returned on April 6, 2018. His itinerary included a trip to Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) to discuss next steps in the collaboration with FNNR leaders and staff; he also brought back the camera trapping data. Dr. An also stayed in Beijing, discussing a paper with his coauthors; he visited friends and family members during the trip.

  • January 30, 2018: Dr. Li An went to University of Southern California and attended a 2-day workshop "Geospatial Software: Connecting Big Data with Geospatial Discovery and Innovation". This was a workshop sponsored by National Science Foundation. Dr. An presented a lightning talk titled "Meeting Grand Challenges in Complex Systems through ABM Software Development".

News in 2017

  • December 19, 2017: Welcome visiting scholar Dr. Haiyan Wang to join the CHES group at SDSU! Dr. Wang comes from School of Information Science & Technology, Beijing Forestry University, China. Her expertise is on data analysis and modeling in the field of environment and economy. Dr. Wang is expected to stay with us for about one year.

  • December 12, 2017: Dr. Li An's sabbatical leave proposal has been approved at the departmental, college, and university levels. He will take his leave in the academic year of 2018-2019.

  • December 04, 2017: Congratulations to Jie who has been selected to be a recipient of the very competitive Inamori Felowship! Competition for Inamori Fellowships was intense. According to Ashley Rubio, Assistant to the Director of Research Affairs at SDSU, "There were applicants representing both masters and doctoral candidates from almost every college of our university. Each application was first reviewed and ranked by the corresponding college-level research committee. The Student Research Committee subcommittee took those recommendations into serious consideration when they selected the final ten recipients" out of 110 applicants". Good job well done Jie!

  • November 29, 2017: Master's student Judy Mak successfully presented her thesis proposal titled "Understanding Animal Movements Through Agent-Based Modeling". Her thesis aims to gain insight into how human and natural factors may impact the habitat range of endemic and threatened species, especially the Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi) at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China. Congratulations Judy!

  • September 01, 2017: Dr. Li An submitted the final report of his NSF project entitled "Impacts of Ecosystem Service Payments in Coupled Natural and Human Systems". See more details here.

  • August 25, 2017: Alexandra (Ali) Yost, new MS student, joined the CHES group and the Department of Geography at San Diego State University (SDSU). Ali received her bachelor's degree from SDSU, and is interested in environmental conservation and various Geospatial technologies. Welcome Ali!

  • July 29, 2017: Congratulations to Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen, who recently took an offer of faculty position from a prestigious university in Taiwan! The CHES members, along with Dr. Doug Stow and Cindy Tsai, went to have lunch with Dr. Chen (Shan Xi Magic Kitchen) on July 29, 2017. We thank Dr. Chen for her great contribution to our project, and wish her successes in her new position!

  • June 06, 2017: Congratulations to Jie Dai, whose proposal "Mapping and Modeling the Invasion of Mikania Micrantha in the Chitwan Community Forests, Nepal: A Coupled Human and Natural Systems Approach" was selected for the very prestigious NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) for two years (2017-2019)! According to NASA program officer Dr. J.A. Kaye, this fellowship is very competitive and only the top 18% candidates were selected this year. Good job well done Jie!

  • May 22, 2017: Dr. Li An had a successful trip to several Chinese sites for combined research and family purposes between May 4 and May 19, 2017. He visited scholars at Capital Normal University and the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, initializing new collaboration opportunites. He also visited Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in Guizhou Province and did a couple of experiments regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-borne thermal infrared (TIR) sensors in detecting wild animals. See some of the results.

  • April 22, 2017: The CHES group had a very successful symposium, which generated lots of excitements. See this site for more detail.

  • March 15, 2017: Congratulations to Jie Dai, who successfully completed his oral exam (he passed his written exams in January 2017). All his committee members, Drs. Dar Roberts (UCSB), Phaedon Kyriakidis (UCSB), Doug Stow, and Li An unanimously passed Jie's written exams as well as his oral exam/dissertation proposal titled "Community Forestry in Chitwan Valley, Nepal - Challenges with the Invasion of Mikania micrantha". He has thus moved to PhD candidacy. Nice job well done Jie!

  • March 06, 2017: Dr. Li An presented his research entitled "The Invisible Hand in Complex Human-Environment Systems" at the Department of Biology Seminar Series. The seminar consists of three major stories: the story of 1+1<2, the story of neighborhood, and the story of time. The well attended seminar was followed by great questions from faculty, staff, visitors, and graduate students and a pizza luncheon with graduate students (Here is the abstract of the presentation).

  • February 22, 2017: Dr. Li An presented his research entitled "Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES): 1 + 1 < 2?" at the SDSU Discovery Slam. The discovery slam was held at the Gold Auditorium in the SDSU BioScience Center between 5 pm and 6:30 pm. Co-sponsored by Steve Welter (Vice President and Dean of Graduate and Research Affairs), Stanley Maloy (Dean of College of Sciences), and SDSU Research Foundation, the slam aims to provide "an enjoyable venue for faculty, administrators, and staff to learn about a variety of different research topics – generating broader awareness of research accomplishments across the campus and possibly generating interdisciplinary collaborations" (quote from Stephen Welter). According to the thank-you message from Dr. Maloy, "...You made some great points about your research and research in general. There was a great response from the audience." See more detail here.

  • January 31, 2017: After careful search and comparison among candidate hotels, the ABM 17 team has decided that the ABM 17 symposium will be held at San Diego Marriott Mission Valley. More detail about lodging is available here. See this site for more informaiton about the call for participation.

  • January 20, 2017: Invited by Drs. Hui Lin, Xun Shi, and Xinyue Ye (Editors), Dr. Li An and docotoral student Jie Dai wrote and submitted a chapater about space-time analysis for a book tentatively entitled "Frontiers of Geographic Information Science" (in Chinese). For more detail see the invitation letter.

  • January 03, 2017: As the lead PI of Project ABM 2017: Agent-Based Models in the Social, Human-Environment, and Life Sciences, Dr. Li An has been organizing the symposium with help from his science committee, SDSU Geography staff, and his students. More details can be obtained at the project's news and announcements sections.

News in 2016

  • December 15, 2016: Dr. Li An traveled to Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) between December 4 and 9. He met FNNR leaders and friends Director Zhang, Deputy Direcors Lei and Yang, Secretary Yang, and other people; both FNNR leaders and Dr. An show strong interest in continuing our partnership in research, education, and outreach in the future. Accompanied by Lei Shi, Haibo Li, and/or Qifang Li, Dr. An visited villages close to the former golf course project, Pianyan Resevoir, and Liziyuan Resevoir, and interviewed local villagers. The left photo was taken at Jinchang ELementary School and the right one at the previous golf course site.

  • November 17, 2016: Doctoral student Jie Dai's book chapter "Time geography" has recently been accepted for publication. The book is entitled GIS Principles and Technical Designs of GIS(edited by T.J. Cova and M. Tsou), a volume in Comprehensive Geographic Information Systems(editor B. Huang), Elsevier. Congratulations Jie!

  • October 28, 2016: Dr. Li An gave a talk at the SDSU Geography Colloquium Series. His talk is entitled "Unpacking space-time dynamics from multi-time (non-longitudinal) spatial data" with the slides here.

  • October 20, 2016: SDSU College of Arts and Letters Dean Dr. Norma Bouchard, Geography Chair Dr. Piotr Jankowski, and Geography Professor Dr. Li An renewed the Research-Education-Outreach Partnership agreement with Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China. Read more about this exciting news.

  • October 14, 2016: SDSU College of Arts and Letters Dean Dr. Norma Bouchard congratulated Drs. An and Jankowski for their recent award from NSF. Here is the letter.

  • September 26, 2016: Invited by Dr. Li An, Profs. Weihua Xu from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Richard Bilsborrow from UNC Chapel Hill visited San Diego for the 2016 Summit Meeting of our PES project on September 23-24. Dr. Xu presented a wonderful research project entitled "Ecological effectiveness of nature reserve system in China", and Dr. Bilsborrow had his insightul presentation entitled "GFG, Migration and the Environment: Modelling FNNR Interactions: What we are learning and gaps to address". They shared their excellent ideas and made very useful recommendations and comments for our future plan, joyfully engaged in our project luncheon, the climax of the meeting--isn't it?

  • September 24, 2016: The CHES research team has recently held a successful project summit meeting on Septermber 23-24, 2016 at San Diego State University. All project investigators, including Dr. Weihua Xu from Chinese Academy of Sciences and Dr. Richard Bilsborrow from UNC Chapel Hill, presented their research progress and findings. See more detail at this news site or this recent updates site.

  • August 30, 2016: Warmest welcome to two new master's students Evan Casey and Judy Mak! Judy received her degree in Earth System Science from UC Irvine, and Evan his degree in Geography from San Diego State University. Welcome to join the SDSU Geography Department and the CHES group!

  • August 19, 2016: Master's student Curtis Battle successfully defended his thesis “Sex specific habitat models for Bengal tigers in Chitwan National Park, Nepal" on Aug 19th. His research showed that the probability of occurrence of male tigers was positively affected by prey abundance and water resources while occurrence of female tigers were affected by more variables, including human settlement and vegetation. The results highlight the importance of considering sex in habitat models and have significant contributions to conservation and management of Bengal tigers. Congratulations Curtis!

  • August 07, 2016: Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen presented at the 2016 Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting. Read more here for her talk.

  • June 23, 2016: Dr. Li An recently received an NSF grant entitled "ABM’17: The usefulness, uselessness, and impending tasks of agent-based models in social, human-environment, and life sciences”. See this site for more information.

  • June 03, 2016: Congratulations to Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen, who recently received a research grant to study wild mammals at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve! Explore this site for more information.

  • May 21, 2016: The CNH project team had a successful training workshop for San Diego K-12 teachers. See more here about this event.

  • May 12, 2016: Dr. Li An organized a successful symposium and presented at The International Society for Ecological Modeling Global Conference 2016 (8-12 May 2016, Baltimore, Maryland). He also served as a member of the conference's Scientific Steering Committee and gave a talk titled “Modeling human decision-making and their interactions with the Guizhou Golden Monkey habitat use". Read more about this event.

  • April 29, 2016: PhD candidate Shuang Yang was recently awarded the Caldwell, Flores, and Winters Award in GIS Emphasizing Human Geography Applications for the 2016-17 academic year. Shuang creatively employed GIS technologies to solve human livelihood problems at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (China), which hugely supported Dr. An's NSF project "Impacts of Ecosystem Service Payments in Coupled Natural and Human Systems". He also creatively developed a set of google earth protocols to map human environmental use patterns in areas without Internet access, which made a big advance in understanding local FNNR people's resource use patterns. Congratulations Shuang!

  • April 29, 2016: Master's student Jeanne Patton was recently awarded the McFarland Geography Scholarship for the 2016-17 academic year. According to Rose Pasenelli, Director of SDSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, this scholarship is annually given to eligible students who meet all scholarship requirements, such as units enrolled, major, and GPA. Congratulations Jeanne!

  • April 13, 2016: Invited by the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Dr. Li An gave a statistics seminar based on his NSF, NASA, and NIH funded projects. His lecture is entitled "Geospatial Analytics in Human-Environment Research: Experiences and Opportunities". Around 25 faculty and graduate students attended the seminar, followed by questions, comments, and subsequent email communications about the methods and results.

  • April 4, 2016: Dr. Guangming He will join the CHES group. See more here about this exciting news. Welcome Dr. He!

  • March 25, 2016: PhD candidate Shuang Yang and two SDSU spring scholars Inka Cresswell and Michael Cassidy left SDSU and headed to Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in China. They are recuiting and training four undergraduate students from Tongren College for social survey and geospatial mapping purposes. With help from FNNR staff Wang Hua, the team will conduct household survey and land use mapping until early May. Take a look at the project blog for more details about the fieldwork.

  • March 24, 2016: PhD student Shuang Yang's proposal, entitled "Exploring reciprocal relationships between payments for ecosystem services (PES) and the associated coupled human and natural systems (CHANS): A case study of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China", was unanimously passed by his PhD committee: Drs. Keith Clarke, David Lopez-Carr (UCSB), Piotr Jankowski, and Li An (Chair). Congratulations Shuang!

  • March 11, 2016: Postdoctoral Scholar Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen left San Diego heading to Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in China. With help from FNNR staff and two botanists from Yunnan University (China), Dr. Chen is collecting camera trapping and on-site vegetation data. She and Shuang Yang (PhD candidate) will train the two SDSU spring scholars, Michael Cassidy and Inka Cresswell, from late spring to early-mid May. The two spring scholars will video-tape major research activities and produce a set of short movies.

  • March 10, 2016: A geospatial modeling proposal, titled "ABM’17: The Usefulness, Uselessness, and Impending Tasks of Agent-Based Models in Social, Human-Environment, and Life Sciences", was submitted to National Science Foundation's Geography and Spatial Science program with Dr. An as lead PI. This "leadership" project aims to organize a workshop under the goal of transforming the science, technology, and application of agent-based models (ABMs, or agent-based modeling—ABM) in the context of social, human-environment, and life sciences. If funded, over forty two exceptional agent-based modelers and/or “users” (ranging from junior scholars such PhD students and postdoctoral fellows up to members of the National Academy of Sciences) of these models will come together and hash out strategic plans and actions to advance the science of agent-based modeling.

  • March 07, 2016: Two undergraduate students, Michael Cassidy and Inka Cresswell, will go to the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in China as our spring scholars. See more here.

  • February 25, 2016: Welcome visiting scholar Dr. Xuan Tian from School of Information Science & Technology, Beijing Forestry University, China! Her expertise is on efficient management and usage of individual context for information retrieval (especially individual cognitive modeling and cognitive language models). Dr.Tian will be at SDSU for one year.

  • January 28, 2016: The CHES Group is recruting 2-3 SDSU excellent undergraduate students, as our spring scholars, to go to Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (China) for education and training purposes. The field trip will be fully paid by our NSF project and take place in late March to mid-April. The spring scholars will participate in activities such as camera trapping of golden monkeys and mapping of local indigenous households. Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen and doctoral student Shuang Yang will lead the related activities. For more detail see this link.

News in 2015

  • December 07, 2015: Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen returned to San Diego after her field work at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (China) from mid-October to late November and a short trip to Taiwan afterwards. Dr. Chen supervised camera data trapping and social survey of around 38 households. Welcome back Hsiang Ling!

  • December 2, 2015: Dr. Li An has contributed to several proposal submissons as Co-PI or senior personnel over the past several weeks. The proposals were submitted to Joint Fire Science Program, NSF, and NIH, covering a set of impending topics such as wildfire hazards, space-time patterning of human health, and impact of climate change on wine production.

  • October 13, 2015: A warm welcome to visiting delegates from the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR). Ms. Ni Yang, Head of the FNNR Department of Human Resources and Mr. Yuanping Zhai, Head of the FNNR Director's Office arrived on October 12, 2015 joining biologist Lei Shi who is Head of the Department of Scientific Research and Education, FNNR. A symposium was held by Dr. Li An to welcome our guests. The event began with a welcome from SDSU Geography Department Chair, Piotr Jankowski. The delegation then visited the Confucius Institute where they learned about the Institute’s education program from Managing Director, Dr. Lily Cheng. The morning events convened with a message from the SDSU Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, Dr. Norma Bouchard. The delegates presented a gift to Dean Bouchard.

    FNNR_Delegation_OCT2015 One goal of the CNH Project is to promote research and cross-education between the reserve staff and the project team. Therefore, the afternoon was comprised of several presentations. Project Principal Investigator, Dr. Li An gave an overview of the CNH Project. Postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen gave an update of ongoing fieldwork being conducted in FNNR. Ni Yang shared information and incredible photographs which highlighted the biodiversity of the reserve. Also, biologist Lei Shi gave an update of the conservation efforts and education programs happening within FNNR. The visitors were then taken on a tour of the SDSU campus.

    In addition to campus events, the FNNR delegates were taken to a few of the locally-preserved areas in San Diego. They visited Cabrillo National Monument and Mission Bay which is a City of San Diego aquatic park. This event-filled day marked the beginning of an eight day visit ending on October 20, 2015. During that time, the delegates will see various sites including a visit to the world-famous Grand Canyon National Park.

  • September 23, 2015: A hearty welcome of Lei Shi, visiting scholar invited by Dr. Li An's PES project (, to the SDSU Geography Department. He is a biologist and the head of Department of Scientific Research and Education in the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) Administration in China. For more detail about his visit, see

  • September 03, 2015: Dr. Li An, Piotr Jankowski, Steven Manson (University of Minnesota), Billie L. Turner II (Arizona State University), and Shaowen Wang (University of Illinois at at Urbana-Champaign) submitted a proposal to NSF. The proposal, entitled "ABM'16: The Usefulness, Uselessness, and Impending Tasks of Agent-Based Models", aims at transforming the science, technology, and application of agent-based models (ABMs, or agent-based modeling—ABM) in the context of geographic and spatial sciences.

  • August 14, 2015: Dr. Li An traveled to Michigan State University (MSU) and University of Michigan (UM) between August 9 and 11, having in-depth discussions with Drs. Emilio Moran (MSU) and Daniel G. Brown (UM) about development of more sophisticated agent-based models to address many impending challenges and issues from both theoretical and application domains. He also met Dr. Dirgha Ghimire and William Axinn (UM) to update each other's research and other related pursuits.

  • June 29, 2015: CHES member doctoral student Shuang Yang has just passed his written and oral exams! His dissertation proposal is titled "Exploring interactions between payments for ecosystem services (PES) and the associated coupled human and natural systems (CHANS): A case study of Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China". With approval from dissertation committee Drs. Keith Clarke (UCSB), David Lopez-Carr (UCSB), Piotr Jankowski, and Li An (chair), Shuang has thus advanced to candidacy and will continue working on his dissertation about the PES programs in a Chinese nature reserve. Congratulations Shuang!

  • June 24, 2015: CHES member Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen has been conducting intense fieldwork, which ended up with deployment of 37 cameras and survey of 37 vegetation plots. Visit the project website for more details.

  • June 8, 2015: Dr. Li An completed his fieldwork between May 18 and June 8. During the trip, he led questionnaire development, testing, and enhancement about local villagers' land use and forestland patrol decisions. Doctoral student Shuang Yang and postdoctoral research fellow Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen led the survey team of over ten undegraduate students from Tongren College (Guizhou Province), and wrapped up the survey in late July, 2016. More at

  • April 9, 2015: Dr. Hsiang Ling Chen successfully defended her dissertation and joined the CHES Group at San Diego State University as a postdoctoral research fellow. See for more details.

  • March 30, 2015: Doctoral student/CHES member Stephen Crook attended the Natural Capital Symposium at Stanford University last week. See for more information.

  • March 27, 2015: Dr. Shaowen Wang, Professor and Centennial Scholar from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, came to SDSU in response to an invitation from Dr. Li An. Dr. Wang gave a colloquium titled "CyberGIS for Data-Rich Geographic Research and Education" to the Department of Geography, which was well attended and enthusiastically welcomed by quite many Geography faculty members and students. Dr. Wang also met with CHES members Dr. Li An, Shuang Yang, Steve Crook, and Billy Orihuela as well as other Geography faculty and students, sharing his experiences and providing advice in Cyberinfrastructure, CyberGIS, and other related topics.

    Drs. Wang and An also arrived at an agreement to work together closely, pushing forward a new research frontier that aims to advance the science and technology of agent-based modeling.

  • March 18, 2015: Dr. Li An went to Washington D.C. and served on an NSF panel during March 16-18. During the 2.5-day panel, Dr. An closely worked with other panelists and NSF officers, discussing assigned proposals, coming up with panel discussion summaries, and making funding recommendations to NSF.

  • March 5, 2015: By the invitation of Dr. Heejun Chang, Dr. Li An went to Portland State University and presented his research as part of their Winter 2015 Ecosystem Services Seminar sponsored by an NSF IGERT award ( Dr. An gave a lecture entitled "Agent-based Modeling of the Impact of Social Norms on PES Effectiveness" in GEOG 694, a lecture entitled "Payments for Ecosystem Services: Always a Path toward Sustainability?" in ESM 507 (watch the video at this site:, and a workshop about agent-based modeling for The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) PSU chapter.

  • February 27, 2015: Hsiang Ling Chen, doctoral candidate at University of Arizona, took the offer from our project as a postdoctoral fellow. See for more information.

  • January 13, 2015: Hsiang Ling Chen, doctoral candidate at University of Arizona, accepted the offer from Drs. An and Lewison. She will work on Dr. An? CNH project as a postdoctoral fellow. Visit for more information.

News in 2014

  • December 5, 2014: A paper by STACS member Stephen Crook, titled "Information Spread in a Region of Human–Mountain Lion Coexistence" has been published in Human Dimensions of Wildlife. Based on a questionnaire survey and media content analysis, and as part of Stephen's work towards the thesis for his Master's degree, this paper discusses how information about mountain lion issues is received by local residents in Santa Cruz County, California. He found that mountain lion related information was spread out among friends and neighbors nearly as frequently as it was received from media sources. Another finding was that people demonstrated moderate amounts of personal experience with mountain lions. Congratulations Steve!

  • October 6, 2014: Two SDSU undergraduate students, Mengen Lyu (an American Language Institute student) and Chenghui Liu (Sophomore in Finance), have joined our STACS Group in helping with data entry, editing, and cleaning. The data were collected during the 2014 summer household survey over 600 households in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. Welcome Mengen and Chenghui!

  • September 1, 2014: The STACS Group welcomes Billy Orihuela, our newest master's degree student! Originally from Kailua, Hawaii, Billy earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics from Loyola Marymont University in 2011. Here at SDSU, he plans on using methods like spatial statistics to gain further insight into the relationships between economics, demography, and the environment. Billy is excited to be here, and happy to extend his lifelong streak of living within ten miles of the Pacific Ocean.

  • August 25, 2014: A warm welcome to Dr. Yuejin Deng who is a Visiting Scholar invited by Dr. Li An to our department for 2014-2015 academic year. He is an Associate Professor as well as one of the leading engineers at the State Key Laboratory for Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing, Wuhan University, China. He is an expert in GIS Mapping Software Development, Geo-Big Data Analysis, Land Use and Cover Change, and Urban Development.

    Dr. Deng will be at SDSU to seek research collaborations, especially in the area of using space-time analysis models to explore what are the benefits and limits of urbanization development, and how it may affect the local economy.

  • July 12, 2014: The golden monkey project team has had a successful field survey season at the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. For more information, visit

  • May 22, 2014: Dr. Li An has been approved to be an editorial board member of the International Journal of Geospatial and Environmental Research (IJGER). The IJGER is an open access international journal that provides a forum for discussion among researchers in all fields of geography and environmental sciences with a spatial dimension, and publishes original research papers, review articles, and short communications on academic activities.

  • May 19, 2014: Stephen Crook has recently been selected into the 2014/2015 California State University (CSU) Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program (CDIP), which is based on his excellent past academic background and promise of being successful as a doctoral student and CSU faculty member. Congratulations to Steve!  

  • May 8, 2014: Stephen Crook was chosen to receive the William and Vivian Finch Remote Sensing Award in recognition of his excellent work in remote sensing, his academic successes, and professional accomplishments. Steve is a student in the SDSU Joint Doctoral Program, working with Dr. Li An. Congratulations Steve!

  • May 5, 2014: Dr. Li An’s proposal was selected by SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for the prestigious President’s Leadership Fund  that focuses on “building on excellence” in support of student success, research and creative endeavors, and community and communication. The funded proposal, titled “Cross the Border: Immerse Undergraduates in Conservation”, will allow further inclusion of undergraduates in the STACS group’s work on payments for ecosystems services in the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou, China (see: By being a part of the project, selected undergraduates will be able to participate in diverse, multidisciplinary international fieldwork. Specifically, they will learn field methods and data analysis techniques in ecology, geography, demography, and economics.  In the process, they will contribute in substantial ways to the group’s work in conserving the endangered Guizhou Golden Monkey, and investigating sustainability for local indigenous populations.

  • March 6, 2014: This year's Undergraduate Summer Scholars have been selected. Meet the 2014 Summer Scholars

  • February 11th, 2014: SDSU welcomes the 2014 Delegation from Fanjingshan!More info Photos

  • January 23, 2014: Congratulations to Dr. Li An, who has been selected by the Scholars without Borders as recipient of the SDSU 2013-14 Outstanding International Scholar Award.

News in 2013

  • December 17, 2013: Kristin Meseck successfully defended her thesis titled "Habitat Distribution for Non-native Amazona viridigenalis Within San Diego County using Maxent Predictive Model." Her committee members (Drs. Jankowski, Lewison from Biology, and An) were impressed by her achievement, and unanimously let her pass. Congratulations Kristin!

  • December 5, 2013: Congratulations to Dr. Ninghua (Nathan) Wang! Ninghua successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Statistics for Time-Series Spatial Data: Applying Survival Analysis to Study Land-Use Change". Drs. Li An, Keith Clarke, Helen Couclelis, André Skupin joyfully served on his dissertation committee during 2008-2013. Our sincere thankfulness goes to Ninghua for his great contribution to the STACS group and the broader community at SDSU. Good luck Ninghua for your future work!

  • December 2, 2013: Professor Li An was approved by the AAG Council to join the Editorial Board of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, flagship journal in geography. In this highly prestigious position (2014-2017), he will work on papers submitted to Section Methods, Models and GIS together with other editors, other board members, and reviewers.

  • October 11, 2013: Dr. Sarah Wandersee, a recent graduate of the STACS lab and the Joint Doctoral Program, returned to SDSU from her post-doctoral appointment at the University of Alaska - Anchorage to give a colloquium at SDSU about her dissertation research. The talk, entitled "Land-Cover and Land-Use Change in Human-Environment Systems: Understanding Complex Interactions among Policy and Management, Livelihoods, and Conservation," elicited interesting discussion among attendees. In addition to delivering her colloquium talk, she met with current members of the STACS lab to discuss data management issues, and to foster continuity between her past work and the lab's future research at the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou, China.

  • September 27, 2013: Former STACS member Dr. Alex Zvoleff returned to the Department of Geography at SDSU to deliver a colloquium on his dissertation research. Titled "Understanding the Dynamics of Changing Land-use and Land-cover, Population, and Climate in the Chitwan Valley, Nepal," the talk was well attended by both faculty and students. At the conclusion of the talk, Dr. Zvoleff briefly discussed some of his exciting current work as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Tropical Ecology, Assessment, and Monitoring Network at Conservation International. Before his talk, he met with the STACS lab, giving a detailed description of the agent-based modelling methodology employed in his research.

  • September 20, 2013: Welcome to Jie Dai and Stephen Crook, our two new PhD students!

    Jie Dai is from Huaian, Jiangsu, China, and graduated from Wuhan University in 2011. He received his Master's Degree in The School of Natural Resources and Environment: Environmental Informatics from the University of Michigan in 2013, where he assisted in the teaching of graduate-level GIS courses. Remote sensing and its GIS applications are some of Jie's specialties, which he applied to analyze grassland biophysical conditions in Inner Mongolia to complete his thesis. Jie worked with a number of universities in the US and China during his fieldwork. Jie plans to extend his analysis to environmental changes in the habitat of endangered tigers in the Chitwan Nature Reserve in Nepal. His interests include Chinese calligraphy and classical music.

    Stephen Crook is from Santa Cruz, California, and graduated from UCLA in 2008. He spent time both teaching and planning course curricula in Spain and across California, including programs for at-risk youth in San Diego. Stephen received his Master's degree with distinction in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management from Oxford University in 2012. He plans to continue analysis of complexity in China's Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Payment for Ecosystem Services program. He enjoys the outdoors, especially surfing, hiking and mountain biking.

  • September 11, 2013: Dr. Li An and Shuang Yang attended the Campanile Foundation Annual Board Dinner at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center along with ten other prominent faculty and students. See more details here.

  • June 28, 2013: Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Wandersee! Sarah successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Land Cover and Land Use Change in Human Environmental Systems: Understanding Complex Interactions among Policy and Management, Livelihoods, and Conservation". Drs. Li An (co-chair), David Lòpez-Carr (co-chair), Keith Clarke, and Kathleen Farley joyfully served on her dissertation committee during 2008-2013. Our sincere thankfulness goes to Sarah for her great contribution to the STACS group and the broader community at SDSU. Good luck Sarah for your future work!

  • June 28, 2013: Alex Zvoleff successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Understanding the Dynamics of Changing Land-use and Land-cover, Population, and Climate in the Chitwan Valley, Nepal". Congratulations Dr. Zvoleff! His dissertation committee members, Drs. Li An (co-chair), David Lòpez-Carr (co-chair), Kathleen Farley, and Bodo Bookhagen, have enjoyed working with him during the period of 2008-2013. All of us, especially the STACS group, appreciate Alex's fantastic work at SDSU and look forward to seeing his future successes!

  • June 26, 2013: Dr. Li An has been appointed to be member of the Editorial Board of Ecological Modelling, a prestigious international journal on ecological modelling and systems ecology. Dr. An, as a board member, will help "maintain and improve the journal standards by monitoring the editorial policy of the journal, both in terms of its coverage and the level and quality of papers". He will also review papers when invited by the journal. Initially this appointment will be for a period of 3 years (2013-2016).

  • June 14, 2013: A 3-day NSF-sponsored summer workshop was held on June 12-14 at San Diego State University. The workshop, led by Dr. Minjuan Wang (Learning, Design, and Technology) and Dr. Li An (Geography), aimed to help local K-12 teachers develop curricula that are linked to our NSF project titled "Impacts of ecosystem service payments in coupled natural and human systems". This project is being conducted in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China. Under these forthcoming curricula, many K-12 students will be engaged in understanding how Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) may affect, and be affected by, the corresponding Coupled Natural and Human (CNH) Systems. Eight teachers from three different local schools in San Diego area participated in all the seven training sessions–for detail see NSF CNH project website.

  • May 14, 2013: Dr. Li An has been promoted to full professor, effective August 2013. This is "the highest rank that the university can award to its faculty members", says Dr. Nancy Marlin, provost of SDSU, "[t]his title is reserved for those who have sustained achievements in the areas of teaching, scholarship, and service. I am delighted that the university is able to recognize your meritorious accomplishments through this promotion, and I am honored to have you on our faculty. Congratulations."

  • May 3, 2013: Congratulations to Sarah Wandersee and Alex Zvoleff, both of whom have accepted post-doctoral positions to start later this year. Sarah has accepted a post-doctoral position with the Resilience and Adaptive Management (RAM) Group at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Sarah will be working on the NSF EPSCoR funded project "Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments". Alex has accepted a position with Conservation International to work with the Tropical Ecology Assessment and Monitoring (TEAM) Network to study the effects of land cover and climate change on biodiversity at several TEAM Network monitoring sites. Both Sarah and Alex will be defending their dissertations this summer.

  • April 25, 2013: MS candidate Kristin Meseck has been selected as recipient of the department Citizenship Award! This award was given to her because of "her great help in organizing departmental colloquium series' reception, attending College of Arts & Letters related Meetings, and coordinating Grad Group Meetings". Congratulations Kristin!

  • March 22, 2013: Joint doctoral candidate Ninghua Wang's new paper entitled Analyzing Crime Displacement with a Simulation Approach has been accepted for publication by the prestigious journal in geography and urban planning, Environment and Planning B. His research utilizes an agent-based modeling approach to simulate criminal activity and policing, with a goal of exploring the effect of hotspot policing on crime reduction and displacement. This paper represents a culmination of several years of hard work.

  • February 12, 2013: Joint doctoral candidate Ninghua Wang recently received the honor of acceptance for publication at a prestigious journal – the International Journal of Geographic Information Science (IJGIS). The paper, titled "Comparative performance of logistic regression and survival analysis for detecting spatial predictors of land-use change" (coauthored by Daniel Brown, Li An, Shuang Yang, and Arika Ligmann-Zielinska), was accepted by the highly selective journal, indicating its scientific rigor, ground-breaking research, and high potential impact. Congratulations to Ninghua for this achievement!

  • January 30, 2013: A delegation of visitors from the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) Administration was warmly welcomed to the SDSU campus in late January. The delegation consisted of FNNR former director Yeqin Yang, biologist and Head of Department of Scientific Research and Education Yang Qiu, Deputy Head of Department of Finance Hanjun Yuan, and Lei Shi, botanist at Department of Scientific Research and Education. Workshops were held on January 29 and 30 to discuss FNNR's payment for ecosystem services (PES) programs, socioeconomic and biophysical environment of the reserve, and options for GIS and remote sensing of the area. On the second day Geography Department Chair, Dr. Stuart Aitken, led a workshop on human geography, with discussion of possibilities for participatory mapping and household surveys. Geography PhD candidate Alex Zvoleff gave a GIS and Remote sensing workshop, well attended and appreciated by the delegates and SDSU graduate students.

    Other highlights of the visit were a tour of the Confucius Institute with a presentation by its Director, Dr. Lilly Cheng, and a campus tour which included the Geography Department labs. The delegation was able to experience San Diego through sightseeing in Mission Bay and boating at the San Diego Yacht Club, and mingle with members of the Geography Department during a BBQ party hosted by Dr. Aitken. This annual visit remains a valuable resource for research opportunities in both countries and continues to facilitate greater collaboration between the FNNR and SDSU's Geography Department.

News in 2012

  • November 1, 2012: The NSF CNH Project, "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", was recently featured in SDSU's newspaper The Daily Aztec. "If we learn more about the effectiveness of ecosystem payments, we can better understand what it takes to sustain environments, local people's livelihoods, and endangered species such as these," An said. To read the full article, see page two of the November 1st edition of The Daily Aztec.

  • October 30, 2012: Professor Li An, the PI of the NSF CNH Project "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Coupled Natural and Human Systems" has received a letter of congratulations from the SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for the receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation. This project aims to investigate the interaction between payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman remarks on the importance of the project to scientific research and the distinction brought to both the Department of Geography and SDSU by this project.

  • October 24, 2012: A paper by Ninghua (Nathan) Wang, Trent Biggs and André Skupin, titled "Visualizing gridded time series data with self organizing maps: An application to multi-year snow dynamics in the Northern Hemisphere" has been accepted for publication in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems. The paper discusses using a self-organized map (SOM) to classify snow dynamics from microwave imagery of the Northern Hemisphere taken over a 20-year timespan. The authors found that SOM successfully identified transitions in snowcover related to the Southern Oscillation. Congratulations Nathan!

  • September 21, 2012: Congratulations to Li An, who is part of a team that was recently awarded an National Science Foundation - Dynamics Coupled Natural and Human Systems (NSF-CNH) grant, entitled: "CNH: Feedbacks Between Human Community Dynamics and Socioecological Vulnerability in a Biodiversity Hotspot" (PI Scott T. Yabiku, ASU, co-PIs: Sharon J. Hall, ASU; Li An; Abigail M. York, ASU, and Dirgha Ghimire, University of Michigan). The project team will be investigating connections between non-family organizations and management institutions, and the spread of an invasive weed, Mikania micrantha, in the buffer zone surrounding the Chitwan National Park in Nepal. The team will use a unique integrative approach including conducting a number of controlled experiments testing how institutions influence the success of interventions aimed at slowing the spread of Mikania.

  • September 7, 2012: Four students (3 doctoral, 1 MS) are sought in support of aninterdisciplinary project "CNH: Sustainability of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", which is newly funded by NSF. The three PhD positions will have emphases in 1) landscape ecology, remote sensing, habitat analysis; 2) GIScience and systems modeling; and 3) human geography and social demography, respectively. The MS position could be any one or combination of: 1) habitat modeling, 2) land cover change, 3) participatory mapping, and 4) econometric analysis.

  • September 4, 2012: The STACS group Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) team has received congratulations from College of Arts and Letters Dean Paul Wong, Provost Nancy Marlin, and SDSU President Elliot Hirshman for their receipt of a $1.3 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate the interaction between PES programs and the corresponding coupled natural and human systems. President Hirshman noted the importance of the project to the university as a whole, saying "It is wonderful news for you, your colleagues in the college, and the entire university. I look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of your work as you proceed." Congratulations to the project team! See the August 22, 2012 news item for additional details on the research project.

  • August 24, 2012: Congratulations to Kristin Meseck, who successfully defended her master proposal: "Habitat Distribution for Non-native Amazona viridigenalis in the City of San Diego using Maxent Predictive Model". Her research involves collection of presence data for the Red-crowned Amazon Parrot, and the creation of a habitat model including both human and non-human related variables. Her committee, Piotr Jankowski, Rebecca Lewison(Biology), and Li An (chair), unanimously passed her defense.

  • August 22, 2012: Great news! The STACS group has just received funding for research in Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China! The award from NSF Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems will provide $1.3 million to the project, entitled "CNH: Impacts of Payments for Ecosystem Services in Coupled Natural and Human Systems", over 4 years (PI: Dr. Li An; 2012-2016). The entire research team consists of researchers and students from San Diego State University (Dr. Li An, Dr. Stuart Aitken, and Dr. Doug Stow from Geography; Dr. Minjuan Wang from Educational Technology; Dr. Rebecca Lewison from Biology) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Dr. Xiaodong Chen from Geography and Dr. Richard Bilsborrow from Biostatistics). Researchers will collaborate to investigate the interactions between payments for ecosystem services programs, golden monkey conservation, and local livelihoods using a diverse set of approaches including remote sensing, camera trapping, participatory mapping, interviews, and participatory agent-based modeling. We look forward to the development of this research program, in building on the groundwork laid in the past few years by the STACS team. This is a great opportunity for continued SDSU-FNNR collaboration and for fostering further education and teamwork, as well as improving our understanding of golden monkey conservation.

  • August 22, 2012: Congratulations to Ninghua (Nathan) Wang, who successfully defended his dissertation proposal on September 21st. His proposal, "A comparative study of survival analysis and logistic regression in land-use change: A study based on longitudinal spatial data" was unanimously approved by his committee. Nathan's committee, Li An (chair), Andre Skupin, Keith Clarke (UCSB) and Helen Couclelis (UCSB), was impressed by his presentation, and sees great potential in broader use of survival analysis in geography and other discplines. Nathan will now be diving into the details of his dissertation research, which will compare survival analysis, a relative newcomer in geographic research, to more established methods of analysis for land use and land cover change datasets, using a novel combination of simulation and empirical analysis.

  • June 20, 2012: Dr. Li An, Shuang Yang, and Alex Zvoleff recently returned from a research trip to the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan, China, funded by an NSF Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) Grant (OISE 0729709). During the visit they completed 170 household surveys, conducted a vegetation survey of 60 field plots, and gathered ground control points for orthorectifying satellite imagery. The trip allowed Alex and Shuang (who were making their first trip to Wolong) to familiarize themselves with the study site, while all three members of the team had the opportunity to meet with senior researchers from the reserve. After their visit to Wolong, Li An and Shuang Yang continued on to visit the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in Guizhou, China, with the support of FNNR's funding from Guizhou's Foreign Experts Administration (a provincial government agency). Dr. Li An and Shuang discussed collaboration tasks with local scientists and policymakers, and conducted several household interviews as a pretest for Shuang's dissertation research. The results from the two field visits will be described in an upcoming paper comparing conservation strategies and population trends in three nature reserves in Asia (also including the Chitwan National Park in Nepal).

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  • May 20, 2012: Congratulations to STACS group members and PhD Candidates Alex Zvoleff and Sarah Wandersee! This year 's recipient of the Cotton Bridges Award for GIS Emphasizing Techniques, Alex applies GIS in his research projects on complex human and natural systems in Nepal and on health and global conservation. He employs cutting edge techniques in his mixed methods dissertation research and is currently doing field work in Wolong Panda Reserve, China. Sarah received the Department of Geography Citizenship Scholarship for her service to the department as PhD representative and her involvement in the departmental Graduate Student Group. This included attending faculty meetings, addressing student concerns, and organizing and facilitating brown bags and workshops to enhance student teaching, research, and professional development. Congratulations to both of them for recognition of their efforts!

  • March 12, 2012: Congratulations to Alex Zvoleff who is a recipient of the 2012 President's Award for his presentation during San Diego State University's fifth annual Student Research Symposium. The President's Award is the most prestigious honor at the competition, awarded to two student presenters in five different categories of learning. As an additional honor, Alex will travel to Long Beach May 4-5 to present at the California State University Student Research Competition in May. Alex's presentation was entitled "Linking Conservation and Development: A Global-scale Analysis of Demographics in High-value Conservation Areas" and focused on population, health and environment in high priority conservation areas.

  • March 1, 2012: Congratulations to Alex Zvoleff, who was elected Student Representative for the Human Dimensions of Global Change (HDGC) Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) during the 2012 AAG Annual Meeting. He will be working to increase student participation in the specialty group, and to help promote HDGC research in general.

  • February 29, 2012: Dr. Li An was elected to chair the Spatial Analysis and Modeling (SAM) Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) during the 2012 AAG Annual Meeting. He will work with other SAM officers and board members to further serve the SAM community.

  • January 24, 2012: Accolades go to this year's Inamori Fellowship recipient, geography PhD student Alex Zvoleff. The Inamori Fellowship is extremely competitive and is awarded to San Diego State University graduate students who demonstrate great scholarly accomplishments, have excellent past research work and future research plans, and come highly recommended from faculty. Alex, who received his B.S. in Earth Science from UCSD and an M.A. in Climate and Society from Columbia University, represents one of 10 Inamori Fellows chosen from over 80 candidates.

  • January 04, 2012: Ninghua (Nathan) Wang has passed his qualifying exams with the unanimous agreement of his committee: Drs. Li An (chair), Art Getis, André Skupin,Helen Couclelis (UCSB), and Keith Clarke (UCSB). His committee recognized the high quality of his submissions, and looks forward to hearing more during Nathan's oral defense of his proposal, entitled "Can we better detect drivers of land use/cover change? Issues of statistic sampling and model selection". Congratulations, Nathan!

News in 2011

  • November 10, 2011: The STACS group was honored by a visit from members of the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve Administration (FNNRA). The delegation consisted of Deputy Director Kaiming Song, Chief Senior Engineer Dunyuan Sun, Senior Engineer Rutai He, and Liason and Translator Min Liu. The delegation spent the day enjoying San Diego and the SDSU campus through a visit to the zoo, a meeting with Dean Wong, and a campus tour, all followed by a delicious dinner at Sichuan Ba Ren. Managing Director of the Confucius Institute (CI) Lilly Cheng also presented to the group and showed great interest in a collaboration effort between the CI, FNNR, and the SDSU Geography Department. This relationship could create many beneficial initiatives involving the education of children through the medium of the CI and the Golden Guizhou Monkeys.

  • In the afternoon, the delegation and geography department came together for a STACS meeting to discuss future plans and reconnect with the SDSU students and faculty. The meeting was also attended by Department Chair Dr. Stuart Aitken who spoke about the immense benefits that the FNNR has afforded to the SDSU Geography Department and the importance of sustaining positive relations. This visit enabled valuable face-to-face exchange on research opportunities, and greatly strengthened the relationship between the SDSU geography department and the FNNR.

  • August 29, 2011: The STACS group would like to welcome two new members: Shuang Yang (PhD student) and Kristin Meseck (Masters student). Shuang has already been assisting with the project website, and Kristin successfully completed a teacher training workshop this summer as preparation for her position as a Geography 101 TA this semester. With their unique backgrounds in statistics, computer programming, archeology, and environmental sciences, we look forward to their contributions to STACS projects, like the Golden Monkey Project.

  • August 2, 2011: Sarah Wandersee's paper (one of her dissertation chapters), titled "Perception and Decisions in Modeling Coupled Human and Natural Systems: A Case Study from Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, China", has been recently accepted for publication by Ecological Modelling, a prestigious journal in the field of ecology. Congratulations Sarah!

  • July 10-15, 2011: Sarah Wandersee, along with fellow PhD candidate Justin Stoler (of the Joint Doctoral Program in Geography, SDSU-UCSB), assisted with the Multilevel Modeling Advanced Spatial Analysis Workshop offered through the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Science (CSISS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The workshop instructors, Kelvyn Jones of Bristol University and S.V. Subramanian of Harvard University, provided participants with a deeper understanding of multilevel modeling concepts and the latest on its implementation and MLwiN software functionality. The workshop also fostered collaboration and communication between researchers in different fields that will extend its impact far into the future. The experience, which she will share with the STACS group in a presentation this fall, will help Sarah in her dissertation work and future research.

  • April 26, 2011: Doctoral student Sarah Wandersee has been selected to receive the 2011 ESRI Award for Human Geography Applications of GIS! This award is for her excellent research related to "participatory mapping, GIS, and livelihoods of local people in a Chinese nature reserve". Congratulations Sarah!

  • March 24, 2011: Sarah Wandersee was chosen to receive the McFarland Geography Scholarship in recognition for her academic achievements, dedicated volunteer work, and progress towards her career goals. Alex Zvoleff was chosen to receive the William& Vivian Finch Scholarship in recognition of his excellent work in remote sensing, his academic successes, and professional accomplishments. Sarah and Alex are both students in the SDSU Joint Doctoral Program, working with Dr. Li An. Congratulations Alex and Sarah!

  • March 22, 2011: Gabriel Sady has been selected to receive the Ned H. Greenwood Award and the McFarland Geography Scholarship. The awards are given annually to excellent students in the SDSU Geography department. Congratulations Gabe!

  • March 10, 2011: Doctoral student Ninghua (Nathan) Wang recently won the AAG IGIF Student Paper Award for his paper titled Analyzing Crime Displacement with a Simulation Approach. This paper, based on his master thesis research, was presented in Geoinformatics 2010 in Beijing, China. The AAG IGIF Student Paper Award is given to recognize outstanding student papers in any area of spatial analysis or geographic information science or systems that was given at a national and international conference or specialized meetings. Wang is the only recipient for this year, along with a price of $200. Congratulations, Nathan!

  • March 07, 2011: Alex Zvoleff received the Dean's Award at the 2011 SDSU Student Research Symposium, for his talk entitled "The ChitwanABM: Modeling Population-Environment Interactions and their Implications in the Chitwan Valley, Nepal". Alex's work, conducted with Dr. Li An, uses computer modeling to explore connections between population and environment at a study site bordering the Chitwan National Park in south-central Nepal. He also recently presented his work at the AAAS conference in Washington, DC., receiving a positive media coverage. Alex is a third-year doctoral student in the SDSU/UCSB joint program.

  • March 04, 2011: Ninghua (Nathan) Wang, second year joint doctoral student, was invited to attend the Santa Fe Institute Complex System Summer School from June 8 to July 1. The Complex Systems Summer School is a very competitive program with six to eight applications for each position available in the program. Along with this invitation, Nathan was awarded with a scholarship of $1500 to defray part of his tuition and living costs during his stay at the Santa Fe Institute. The Santa Fe Institute is an acknowledged leader in transdisciplinary scientific research and the founding institution of complexity science.

  • February 22, 2011: Dr. An and his collaborators had a very successful symposium at the 2011 AAAS meeting on February 18. The symposium was entitled "Mapping and Disentangling Human Decisions in Complex Human-Nature Systems", which has contributed to advancing the research on understanding human-environment interactions in coupled human and natural systems (CHANS). For details see news at the department web page and NASW web page.

  • February 11, 2011: Sarah Wandersee and Alex Zvoleff both successfully completed their oral exams today. Sarah Wandersee's dissertation work, supported by her committee, Drs. Li An (SDSU), David Lopez-Carr (UCSB), Kathleen Farley(SDSU), and Keith Clarke (UCSB), focuses on the impacts of human activities on Guizhou golden monkey habitat in China. During his visit to SDSU, Dr. Keith Clarke also presented a talk titled "The Future of GeoComputation" apart of the colloquium series.

  • Alex Zvoleff's research focuses on understanding the role of climate variability and change in human migration, focusing on a case study in the Chitwan Valley Nepal, with the support his committee: Drs. Li An (SDSU), DaviLopez-Carr (UCSB), Kathleen Farley (SDSU), and Bodo Bookhagen (UCSB).

  • February 2, 2011: Sarah Wandersee is the thankful recipient of a Women's Environmental Council (WEC) Scholarship for 2011. WEC provides a monetary award and one-year membership to support the development of young environmental professionals.

  • January 20, 2011: Congratulations to Alex Zvoleff, who passed his doctoral qualifying exams with unanimous agreements from all his committee members: Drs. David Lopez-Carr, Bodo Bookhagen, Kathleen Farley, and Li An. Good job, Alex!

News in 2010

  • November 18, 2010: Congratulations to Jennifer Vaughan, former M.S. student of SDSU Geography (graduated in 2010 summer) and member of the STACS group! Jenny started her new job this week at Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI;, one of the largest GIS software companies in the world. "I am really excited about the job. My job is a Consultant/Project Manager for ESRI's Consulting Services in their Homeland Security and Environmental Team. I will be mostly working on projects dealing with Natural Resources," says Jenny. Our best wishes for you, Jenny.

  • October 25, 2010: Congratulations to Sarah Wandersee, who passed her doctoral qualifying exams with unanimous agreements from all her committee members: Drs. David Lopez-Carr, Keith Clarke, Kathleen Farley, and Li An. Good job well done, Sarah!

  • Oct 13, 2010: Dr. An accepted the invitation from the journal Ecological Modeling to guest-edit a special issue. The special issue, entitled "Mapping and Disentangling Human Decisions in Complex Human-Nature Systems", is based on the AAAS symposium which Dr An is co-organizing with Drs. Aikten and Silbernagel (see the news on July 2). .

  • August 06, 2010: The College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State University (CALSDSU) and Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in China have signed an Agreement for Research-Education-Outreach Partnership (here the English and Chinese versions). This partnership aims to promote collaborative scientific research, education, and outreach activities for the conservation of the Guizhou snub-nose monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi) and other protected endangered/threatened species (including their natural habitats), economic and social development of local communities, and human-environment interaction within or near the reserve. Over twelve faculty and students from SDSU and San Diego Zoo have visited the reserve since 2007, and many theses, dissertations, papers (book chapters), and grant proposals have been generated or underway under this partnership. Signing this agreement by SDSU representatives (Paul Wong, Dean of CAL; Stuart Aitken, Chair of Geography; Li An, Associate Professor of Geography) and FNNR representatives (Yeqin Yang, Director; Xiaoping Lei, Department Head) is a monumental achievement in this partnership.

  • July 29, 2010: Jennifer Vaughan defended her thesis successfully today as a consequence of hard work in the last couple of years. Her thesis title is "Local Geographies of the Coastal Cactus Wren and the Coastal California Gnatcatcher on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton California". Drs. Li An, John O'Leary, Rebecca Lewison (SDSU Biology), and Eric Kershner (US Fish and Wildlife) serve on her thesis committee. Congratulations Jenny!

  • July 2, 2010: Dr. Li An's proposal for 2010 AAAS symposium, entitled "Mapping and disentangling human decisions in complex human-nature systems", has been accepted among a pool of many highly competitive proposals the AAAS Program Committee received this year. This symposium will be held during the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, February 17-21, 2011. We thank the following people for their support of this successful proposal: Dr. Jianguo Liu (discussant), Dr. David Lopez-Carr (moderator & speaker), Dr. Stuart Aitken (co-organizer & speaker), Dr. Janet Silbernagel (co-organizer), Dr. Xiaodong Chen (speaker), Sarah Wandersee (speaker), and Alex Zvoleff (speaker).

  • June 24, 2010: Ninghua Wang won the Second Place Award in the Best Student Paper Competition at the 18th International Conference on Geoinformatics in Beijing, China, where he presented the paper titled "Analyzing Spatial Effects of Hotspot Policing with a Simulation Approach". The committee made this decision based on his submitted paper and oral presentation. There were eight competitors and one First Place Award, one Second Place Award and two Third Place Awards were given.

  • May 7, 2010: Ninghua Wang has been selected as a recipient for the McFarland Award. This scholarship is given annually to an outstanding student in the Geography Department.

  • Feb. 2, 2010: Sarah Wandersee has been selected as a recipient for the NASA-MSU Professional Enhancement Award. The Award is supported by NASA and Michigan State University to assist outstanding students in attending US-IALE annual conference of the U.S. Regional Association of the International Association for Landscape Ecology.

News in 2009

  • Nov. 16, 2009: Drs. An and Tan (from San Diego Zoo) invited a Chinese Environment Research & Conservation Delegation to visit San Diego and Northern California during Nov. 16-26, 2009. The delegation consists of four experts: Mr. Weiyong Zhang (reserve management, community development), Mr. Xiaoping Lei (primate habitat ecology), Mr. Zhenxin Peng (animal husbandry), and Mouyu Yang (genetic analysis of primate species). This visit is a monumental event for the long term Research-Education-Outreach Partnership between San Diego State University, Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve, and Zoological Society of San Diego.

  • August 21, 2009: Doctoral student Alex Zvoleff and Dr. An went to Ann Arbor, where University of Michigan professor William Axinn held a four-day workshop sponsored by the NSF PIRE project. Li offered a workshop about agent-based modeling (ABM), Alex presented his dissertation research, and other participamts presented their work related to the PIRE project. The whole team spent one day at East Lansing on August 20, where Co-PI Dr. Jianguo (Jack) Liu hosted the workshop.

  • June 17, 2009: Dr. An completed his fieldwork at Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR), China and left Tongren. Starting from May 29, doctoral student Sarah Wandersee and Dr. An visited the reserve, performed household surveys, hiked to Yangaoping the FNNR research camp, watched the Guizhou golden monkeys, and visited a few sightseeing sites including Golden Peak and Fenghuang City. SDSU Professors Stuart Aitken and Erin Riley and Primatologist Chia Tan (San Diego Zoo) joined us in June, conducting fieldwork and discussing further collaboration among the reserve, SDSU, and the Zoo.

  • May 1, 2009: Congratualtions to doctoral student Sarah Wandersee, who recently received a prestigious grant of $12,000 from the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Fund. The grant will support Sarah's dissertation addressing impacts of various human activities on the Guizhou golden monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi) in their last and only remaining habitat, Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve (FNNR) in Guizhou Province, China.

  • January 15, 2009: Invited by Prof. Phaedon C. Kyriakidis, Dr. An went to University of California, Santa Barbara, and gave a colloquium titled "Did the model or data lie to us? Survival analysis of land changes". He also met Drs. Jennifer King, Joseph McFadden, and Michael Goodchild during the visit.