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Researcher biography

Associate Professor Yan Liu is a Human Geographer and Spatial Scientist, specialising in Geographical Informational Science (GIS), spatial data analytics and complex systems modelling. She is a leading researcher in the development and application of cellular automata (CA) based urban modelling to describe, understand, model and predict urban and human change dynamics and processes. She has also developed spatial analytical approaches and models to address a range of social geographical issues including disadvantage and social inclusion, access to resources and services, human travel behaviours and their interactions with the built environment.

Liu’s research on urban modelling based on complex systems theory and geo-simulation addresses a significant issue in relation to understanding and predicting urban growth. This is an important and rapidly evolving field which has emerged in the past two decades to study the coupled natural and human systems, their spatial evolution and temporal change mechanisms and dynamics. Methodologically, this research has contributed to advance urban modelling by developing fuzzy constrained CA approach and engaging in systematic calibration of CA urban models using both statistical and intelligent optimisation approaches. The CA-based urban modelling approaches she developed have been applied in various geographical and social contexts, including Australia (Sydney, Brisbane and the Moreton Bay Region), China (Shanghai and Ningbo) and Indonesia (Jakarta Metropolitan Region). She has also collaborated with researchers to model and assess other environment and human change processes and interactions, including the development of a predictive model for archaeological sites and cultural landscapes in the Pilbara region in West Australia, koala disease analysis and conservation modelling, and modelling the impact of sea-level rise on coastal environment. She is the lead Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project to develop new approaches to modelling human-environment interactions for sustainable coastal city development based on spatial complexity, cellular automata and agent based models (ARC DP 2017-2019).

Liu has also developed research on applying GIS and spatial modelling approaches in the study of social geographical issues. She has developed spatial accessibility models to evaluate the equality of access to primary health services in Singapore and Australia, mapping of the spatial disparity and mis-location of the private rental housing market in Brisbane and Southeast Queensland, as well as research on human travel behaviours and their interactions with the built environment using both survey and smart card data. She is a Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project to study the nature, causes and outcomes of problems between neighbours (ARC DP 201-2017). In this project Liu has developed spatial data mining and analytical approaches to address this important social and geographical issue with regard to neighbourhood problems using a large scale administrative database of neighbour complaints and other spatial and non-spatial data.

Liu's research is multi-disciplinary in nature whereby output of this research has a wide impact across the physical/environmental science as well as social science. Her current research interest focus on CA and agent based urban modelling as well as integrating spatial data mining and big data analytics to enhance our understanding on social spatial issues, as she believes that spatial approach is a novel focus for cross-disciplinary interaction and research in the social and behavioural sciences.

Featured projects Duration
New modelling approaches for sustainable coastal city development
Australian Research Council
Cured or condemned? Mapping mild stoke outcomes and untreated deficits
The University of Queensland

Areas of research