I am interested in topics related to urban development and planning, transportation, active transportation, public health, and sustainable development. I am particularly interested in examining the impact of land use and travel behavior relevant to social and environmental conditions of urban areas, communities, as well as residents. Additionally, I am interested in research that addresses, from social and physical environment perspectives, of how cities can improve the living standard of their residents. I am also interested in advancing applications of geographic information systems (GIS) and spatial statistics.
It was within this area that my interests were heightened and developed since my second year of undergraduate study at the University of Toronto. Over the past duration of the study, a number of facets of physical and human geography were learned, along with courses in spatial analysis such as GIS, remote sensing, and cartography. I also took a number of advanced, project-based courses in GIS and urban analysis during my Master’s study at the University of Western Australia, that provided me with opportunities to look at real-world problems related to urban development and active transportation.
I have conducted several research projects focusing on interactions between urban development and physical environment. Specifically, the Southwest Australia endangered species analysis allowed me to investigate the relationship between human activities, land uses and species endangerment within the local ecological community, and addressed the key threats to the values of the ecoregion. This project provided recommendations to decision makers to invest actions in land-use planning and on-ground implementation that prioritizes species conservation. In a project that explores urban dilemmas, I have reviewed and analyzed two increasingly common issues faced in the process of urban development; urban sprawl and increased automobile dependency. Their impacts were examined in the case study of Perth, and delivered strategies such as compact development, and limit the sprawling rate to decrease the negative impacts for future urban sustainable development.
I also find myself drawn as much to the study of the utilization of GIS for various aspects of spatial analysis. In details, I was involved in Perth metropolitan region livability analysis to develop a liveability index that measures and compares the liveability of neighborhoods across the region with eight indicators by using GIS, and specifically, network analysis and multi-criteria analysis model. The analysis conducted was able to build the capacity for the built environment and health systems research to monitor progress towards creating healthy and liveable communities. These experiences allowed me to build upon the knowledge I already possess and gain new knowledge on urban environment and the planning system. While my GIS Analyst co-op at Henan Academy of Sciences has let me exercise my knowledge in an actual research environment, it also further cemented my passion for urban sustainable development and learning about how the environment is constantly changing and shaping our culture and societies as much as it shapes the physical space.
The research opportunities I had during my Master’s study has inspired me to take up the challenge of a Ph.D. They have inspired me to thought about a few projects in a nascent stage that I look forward to work on in the future. One of them is to examine and evaluate human travel patterns, physical activity levels, eating, and built environment factors related to health, as well as investigate the relationship between these factors and the healthiness of community residents. Second, I am very interested in examining the accessibility of land-use and transportation and their potentials to be used as a significant performance indicator in evaluating various transportation plans and policies. Furthermore, the liveability of Canadian cities is another topic I am interested in. The development of evidence-based, specific and quantifiable ‘liveability’ indicators at both city-wide and neighbourhood-level scales can be conclusively linked to changes in behaviour or health and wellbeing outcomes. I am also excited about sharpening and expanding my familiarity with methodologies and techniques (GIS, spatial-temporal analyses using GPS, spatial statistics, and network analysis) required for geographers.
I want to pursue a Ph.D. because I would like to actively pursue grant opportunities and direct research at a higher level, and I believe the invaluable experience of a Ph.D. would benefit me life-long with increased depth and breadth of knowledge and new ways of thinking. In short, my future research are aimed at gaining a better understanding of the links between transportation, land-use, and strategic development in an effort to promote healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities with social cohesion and environmentally sustainable, as well as increased walkability via advanced public transport system, walking and cycling infrastructure to employment, education, shops and community services with increased public, social, cultural and recreational opportunities and spaces.