Portrait of Wenwen Li

Spotlight: CICI Lab at ASU

Information provided by Professor Wenwen Li, director of the Cyberinfrastructure and Computational Intelligence (CICI) Lab at Arizona State University
Dec. 2, 2022


Please briefly introduce yourself and your lab.

My name is Wenwen Li, and I am a professor at Arizona State University. I currently direct the Cyberinfrastructure and Computational Intelligence (CICI) Lab in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at ASU. 

What distinguishes your lab from others working on GeoAI topics?

Our lab develops new GeoAI methods to address pressing environmental problems, including Arctic warming and climate change, water access insecurity, and disaster response and humanitarian aid. 




Professor Wenwen Li: wenwen@asu.edu

Cyberinfrastructure and Computational Intelligence Lab logo

Describe the overall 5–10 year vision and/or mission of your lab.

The mission of the CICI Lab is to develop state-of-the-art geospatial solutions that utilize emerging techniques and theories including Cyberinfrastructure, deep learning, distributed and cloud computing, semantics and ontology, spatial pattern analysis, and scientific visualization. I hope my lab will become one of the go-to places for AI4Earth research, using AI, cyberinfrastructure, and big data to solve the Earth’s greatest problems.  

Whom do you collaborate with (people and/or organizations), and in what ways?

Our collaborators span across sectors and disciplines, including a variety of research entities (e.g., University of California Santa Barbara, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, and Woodwell Climate Research Center), data centers (e.g., NSF Polar Geospatial Center, NSF Arctic Data Center, NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center), non-profit organizations (e.g., Direct Relief, Open Geospatial Consortium), commercial companies (e.g., Esri, DigitalGlobe), and government agencies (e.g., United States Geological Survey). We collaborate through research projects, publications, co-organizing conference sessions and workshops, and hosting training activities, such as the ongoing GeoAI Martian Challenge. 

Name one (or more) person or organization whose work has influenced your thinking.

I have been inspired by so many mentors and colleagues as my career has developed. My master's advisor Dr. Chongjun Yang made me feel geospatial science was so cool and led me into this research area. My PhD advisor Dr. Chaowei Yang gave me many interesting research projects addressing real-world environmental problems, which remain my interests today. My postdoc advisor Dr. Michael Goodchild taught me so much about the science of GIS, and he is also the author I read and cite the most. 

Do you consider your lab/work to be interdisciplinary? If so, how?

Yes. At ASU, an institution that strongly encourage interdisciplinary research, my team collaborates with researchers from a wide variety of domains, such as hydrology, geology, climatology, space science, planning, and social sciences, where we use spatial analysis and GeoAI as key methods to address challenging interdisciplinary problems that are geospatial in nature.  

What’s one thing you wish your [colleagues, students/postdocs, or anyone else] knew about your lab, but don’t (in general)?

We are a small but very energetic group. We foster the growth of “full-stack” GIScientists and engineers with cross-domain knowledge and cutting-edge skills. 

What are some notable examples of student/postdoc research topics in your lab?

Student research topics cover a wide range, from using AI to understand Arctic warming, to developing new cyberinfrastructure and visualization platforms for tracking extreme weather in real time; using machine learning to quantify water access insecurity in underserved communities, to building knowledge graphs for disaster response and humanitarian aid. 

What kinds of jobs have students/postdocs in your lab secured after graduating/finishing?

My students and postdocs enjoy careers in both academia (e.g., lecturers and professorships) and industry (e.g., Esri, Nvidia, Adobe, Google X). 

What are you looking for in a student/postdoc, and how can they reach out to you?

We are looking for highly motivated students and postdocs who have very strong computing and programming skills with ideally a background in computer science. Interested students can always ping me at: wenwen@asu.edu.