News: I will be joining in the Department of Geography at the University at Buffalo (UB) and the National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA) this coming Fall semester. I will be recruiting one graduate student. If you are interested in working with me, please apply for the graduate program of UB Geography.

About Me

My name is Yingjie Hu. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), USA. My main research area is in geographic information science (GIScience), with focuses on spatial, temporal, and textual data analytics, geospatial semantics, and geographic information retrieval. I integrate spatial and temporal analysis methods, natural language processing, machine learning and deep learning techniques to discover a variety of knowledge from data, which can support disaster response, urban planning, and other geospatial applications. I am also an Affiliate Professor of the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Program at UTK. I run the Geospatial Semantics and Data Analytics (GSDA) Lab.

I hold a PhD from the Department of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). I was a member of the Space and Time Knowledge Organization (STKO) Lab. I was also a research engineer during summers at the Applications Prototype Lab in Esri Inc., where I designed and developed prototypes for the next generation's GIS.

Research Interests

  • GIScience
  • Spatial Data Science
  • Geospatial Semantics
  • Spatial and Textual Data Mining
  • Geographic Information Retrieval
  • Information Value Measurement
  • Geo-Knowledge Graphs
  • Spatial Data Infrastructures
  • Public Participation GIS
  • Nighttime Light Remote Sensing


  • 9/2011 - 6/2016: PhD in Geography, University of California, Santa Babara, USA.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (Geospatial Semantics, with an additional emphasis on Cognitive Science)
  • 9/2008 - 6/2011: MS in Geography, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (3D Geovisualization and Web GIS)
  • 9/2004 - 6/2008: BS in Geography, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
    Major Area: Cartography and GIS (GIS Software Engineering)


See also:

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles:

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters:

Peer-reviewed Conference Articles (Full Papers Only):

Peer-reviewed Short Papers or Extended Abstracts:

Professional Presentations:


Semantic Relatedness between Cities

Related paper

This project develops a computational framework for extracting semantic relatedness between cities from news articles. News articles contain a rich amount of information about cities and their relations. The proposed framework makes use of city co-occurrences in news articles, and employs a natural language processing model to analyze the full texts of news articles and to extract city relatedness. The extracted semantic relatedness can contribute to applications such as urban planning and GIR.


Information Value for Disaster Response

Related paper

In recent years, online volunteers have played important roles in disaster responses by mapping the disaster-affected areas based on remote sensing images. Typically, the disaster-affected area is divided into a number of cells using a grid-based tessellation. Online volunteers can then select a grid cell to start the mapping task. While such an approach coordinates the efforts from many volunteers, it does not differentiate the priorities of the different cells. In this research, we propose an analytical framework based on information value theory which can prioritize the grid cells based on the value of road network information contained in these cells.

Information Value for Space-Time Tasks

Related paper

While we have access to an increasing amount of information, the newly invented mobile devices, such as smartwatches, are often equipped with only small screens. The limited display space restricts the number of information items that can be displayed at each time. Which information should be displayed first? Should it be the weather information, information about traffic conjestions, flight arrival information, meeting schedule, or some others? This work proposes an analytical framework which integrates information value theory with space-time prisms, and quantifies the value of information based on its spatiotemporal impact on the tasks of the individual.

NSF EarthCube GeoLink

Related paper

GeoLink is a building block project in the NSF EarthCube program. It leverages the Semantic Web technologies to harmonize and link separate data repositories in geoscience. Seven data repositories (e.g., BCO-DMO and DataONE) have joined this project so far. Modular ontologies have been developed to link the heterogenous data, and a user interface has been designed which allow users to explore the data as tabular forms, maps, and graphs.


Metadata Topic Harmonization

Related paper

This project harmonizes the heterogenous metadata in a geoportal based on the ISO 19115 standard. A natural language processing model, Labeled Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LLDA), has been trained based on the metadata from The trained LLDA model is then applied to the user-contributed ArcGIS Online data to harmonize the heterogenous metadata. Multiples tabs have been designed which can display the results in each topic.


Place Name Disambiguation

Related paper

This project aims at improving the accuracy of place name disambiguation in short texts. Wikipedia is a data source that has been frequently employed as ground truth descriptions. However, Wikipedia articles do not emphasize the terms which represent important entities. We combine the entities from DBpedia (the semantic web version of Wikipedia) and designed a co-occurance model to improve the disambiguation result.


Urban Areas of Interest

Related paper

This project uses geo-tagged Flickr photo data to discover the areas of interest (AOI) within a city. Flickr data from six different cities in the past 10 years have been used for this study. Clusters have been identified at locations where most people took photos. We detect clusters using DBSCAN, and construct polygons using the chi-shape algorithm. In order to understand the extracted AOIs, we also extract the distinctive tags and representative photos within these areas.


Semantic Search for ArcGIS Online

Related paper

We enable semantic search for maps by expanding an input query with related thematic concepts and geographic terms. Related thematic concepts are identified using Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) and WordNet. Related geographic entities are found using a gazetteer Geonames.


This project celebrates the 25th birthday of Web. We use the publication data from the WWW conference, and develop three major modules for this portal. The timeline module shows the major topics in the past 10 years. The geographic map module visualizes the spatial distribution of these topics. The self-organization map shows the hierachical relations between research topics and visualizes them using a map metaphor.


Point of Interest (POI) Pulse

Related paper

This project reclassifies the categories of Point of Interest (POIs) from Foursquare using support vector machine. One POI has been classified into multiple categories based on its spatial, temporal, and thematic characteristics. We visualize a large amount of POI data using HTML5 and javascript, and discovered a tipping point to switch between vector and raster representations.

Role: contributing member

Scientometrics Portal for LAK

Related paper

This is a project developed for the Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) challenge. We make use of the LAK community's publication data, and visualize the geographic collaboration patterns, coauthor networks, and citation distributions of academic papers. We have also designed a tool for reviewer recommendation. We won the second prize.


Semantic Web Journal Portal

Related paper

A project for the Semantic Web Journal to improve the analysis of the journal’s publication data, including the number of publications, citations for each author. Analysis results are then visualized using techniques such as D3.


Citation Map

Related paper

A project for the AAG Mashup Competition that visualizes the citation data on a global scale map. This application locates the first author of a paper, and then searches all researchers who have cited this paper in their work. Finally, the locations of these researchers are visualized on a map. We won the finalist award.


Spatio-temporal File Management System

Related paper

This project proposes to attach spatiotemporal contexts to digital files that we use everyday on laptops and mobile devices. Such addtional indexes allow users to search files based on not only the traditional folder hierachies but also the spatiotemporal contexts in which the files have been used. For example, finding the files I have opened during the conference I attended last month.


3D GIS for Public Participation

Related paper

This system accomodates the needs of the participants in different stages of collaborative decision making (e.g., urban planning). Participants can not only provide comments and feedbacks to existing plans, but also engage in intensive discussions and real-time design. This system helps answer the "what if" questions, which are commonly encountered in geodesign applications.


Chongming Agricultural 3D GIS

A 3D GI system developed for Chongming, Shanghai, China. This system has been designed to help farmers get easier access to agricultural information and better manage their lands and crops.


3D GIS for Pollution Mornitoring

A 3D GI system developed for pollution mornitoring in Shanghai, China. This system was designed for Shanghai Environment Protection Agency which needs to manage the information about the electricity factories and water sewage factories. This system will provide alert when real-time pollution level has exceeded a certain level.


Vegetation Planning 3D System

A 3D GI system developed for vegetation planning in Shanghai, China. This system employs the concept of geodesign, and aims at answering the what if question. Thus, it allows users to plan the vegetations as they want and visualize the possible result to the users.



Courses Taught at UTK:

  • GEOG 411: Intermediate Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 414: Spatial Data Management
  • GEOG 509: Geospatial Semantics

Courses Taught at UCSB:

  • GEOG 12: Maps and Spatial Reasoning
  • GEOG 176A: Introduction to Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 176B: Technical Issues in GIS
  • GEOG 176C: GIS Project Management


Peer Reviewer for Academic Journals

Community Services

  • Guest Editor, GeoAI: Artificial Intelligence Techniques for Geographic Knowledge Discovery, International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 2018
  • Lead Organizer, AAG Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning in Geospatial Research, 2018
  • Member, AAG Geographic Information Science and Systems (GISS) Specialty Group, 2016-2018
  • BOD Member, Chinese Professional in Geographic Information Systems, 2018
  • Program Committee Member, Location Privacy and Security Workshop, 2018
  • General Co-Chair, The First Workshop on GeoAI: AI and Deep Learning for Geographic Knowledge Discovery, Nov. 7, 2017, Los Angeles, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 27th International World Wide Web Conference, Apr. 23-27, 2018, Lyon, France.
  • Program Committee Member, 9th International Conference on Knowledge Capture, Dec. 4th-6, 2017, Austin, USA.
  • Organization Committee Member, Workshop on Geo-Knowledge Graphs, Sep. 4, 2017, L’Aquila, Italy.
  • Program Committee Member, 16th International Semantic Web Conference, Oct. 21-25, 2017, Vienna, Austria.
  • Program Committee Member, 8th Workshop on Ontology Design and Patterns, Oct. 21, 2017, Vienna, Austria.
  • Program Committee Member, 7th Workshop on Ontology and Semantic Web Patterns, Oct. 17, 2016, Kobe, Japan.
  • Program Committee Member, 6th Workshop on Ontology and Semantic Web Patterns, Oct. 11, 2015, Bethlehem, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 29th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Jan. 25-30, 2015, Austin, USA.
  • Program Committee Member, 19th Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management, Nov. 24-28, 2014, Linköping, Sweden.
  • Local Organizer, GeoVoCamp Series, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, Santa Barbara, USA.

Department services (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

  • Graduate Program Committee, 2017-2018
  • Special Events Committee, 2017-2018
  • Social Media Committee, 2016-2018
  • Student Internship Program, 2016-2018
  • Office Space Committee, 2016-2017

Department services (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Events Committee, 2014-2016
  • Computing Committee, 2013-2014

Memberships of Professional Associations


  • UTK Professional and Scholarly Development Award, 2017
  • UCSB Geography Excellence in Research Award, 2016
  • National Award for Outstanding Chinese PhD Students Studying Abroad, 2016
  • Graduate Scholarship from Chinese-American Engineers and Scientists Association of Southern California, 2016
  • Doctoral Scholarship from the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, 2016
  • UCSB Graduate Division travel award, 2015
  • UCSB Graduate Student Association travel award, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for Vespucci Institute, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for AGILE 205 conference, 2015
  • NSF EarthCube Early Career Scholar travel award, 2015
  • UCSB Affiliates dissertation fellowship, 2015
  • UCSB Graduate dissertation fellowship, 2015
  • AAG International Geographic Information Fund award, 2015
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for LAK 2014 conference, 2014
  • 2nd prize award for Learning Analytics and Knowledge Data Challenge, 2014
  • Jack Dangermond fellowship for outstanding PhD students in GIS, 2013
  • Finalist award for AAG Robert Raskin Mashup Mapping Competition, 2013
  • NSF travel award for the 20th ACM GIS conference, 2012.
  • Jack Dangermond travel award for the 7th GIScience conference, 2012.
  • NSF travel award for the 6th RR Conference, 2012.
  • UCSB Geography Doctoral Scholars fellowship, 2011.
  • Excellent Master Thesis, 2011.
  • Scholarship for excellent graduate students, 2009- 2011.
  • Excellent Graduate Student of East China Normal University, 2009 - 2011.
  • Excellent Graduate of Shanghai municipality, 2008.
  • Excellent Bachelor Thesis, 2008.
  • Scholarship for excellent undergraduate students, 2005 - 2007.
  • Excellent Undergraduate Student of East China Normal University, 2005 - 2008.



Yingjie Hu

yhu21 AT utk dot edu
206A Burchfiel Geography Building
1000 Phillip Fulmer Way
Knoxville, TN 37996-0925
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Yingjie Hu Yingjie Hu 1985-11-20 Assistant Professor Male Yingjie Hu is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.