2014-03-17

China Data Center at UM Hosts Record 16 Visiting Scholars

The China Data Center at the University of Michigan's visiting scholars program is hosting a record 16 participants in the current academic year.

The increase comes on the heels of the highly successful class the prior year, which had nine visiting scholars, up from three in 2011-12. Altogether, 49 scholars have participated in the program since it had its first cohort in 1999-00.

"There is a huge demand in China to have scholars visit universities in the US," said CDC Director Shuming Bao, who also manages the program. The China Data Center's visibility is rising in China, largely because its emphasis on and expertise in spatial science research are of high interest among scholars.

Greater availability of financial support also contributes to the rising numbers. The funding from the Chinese government and universities there to support visiting scholars in the US has increased at least 15 percent, leading to more applications to our program, he said.

"The University of Michigan has significant long-term connections with China. Many people in China know U-M is a top university and would like to visit it with this kind of hosting opportunity." Moreover, the growing esteem of the CDC held by scholars in China also heightens the stature of U-M there, he said.

Additionally, the China Data Center's partnership with the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, initiated in 2012, has helped raise the CDC's global profile. "ICPSR is a well-established international consortium for universities, so that helps provide better visibility for us," he said.

The CDC is based at ICPSR's headquarters in the Institute for Social Research, but it reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research at U-M and is operated as an independent data service. It was founded in 1997 to advance the study and understanding of China, with a primary goal of integrating historical, social, and natural science data of China into a robust geographic information system (GIS), which advances a range of quantitative and spatial research.

Bao cited as another key growth factor the ongoing word-of-mouth testimonials by the rising number of scholars from prior cohorts who have returned to China after positive research experiences while visiting the CDC. "I think now, most of the people who work on China Studies know about the China Data Center."

The CDC provides a unique opportunity for visitors interested in learning the discipline of spatial science, which is the study and display of spatial information describing the earth. Spatial information services incorporate a variety of data into a computer system that can be used to generate maps overlaid with visual information, as well as charts. Data types include demographic and economic statistics, industrial censuses, geographic and environmental data and administrative maps.

Spatial tools such as those developed by the China Data Center help researchers visualize connections among various types of data and geographic regions. This facilitates data-driven decision making in the areas of regional planning, business investment, demographic trends, public health and religious adherence. Additionally, as data often cover multiple years, trends can be observed.

"Not many scholars understand what kind of data are available, and what kind of methodology can be applied to the main research areas they are interested in," Bao said. "They learn the spatial technology here, and spatial methodology. We provide the data support and training to do this kind of research."

This year, all the visiting scholars are studying Spatial Economy, which is the analysis of the location of economic activity and the allocation of resources over geographic areas. In prior years, Bao said, scholars explored the field of Spatial Religion, relating spatial methods and statistical data on religion in China to their primary research interests, such as urbanization or international trade.

The result is an enriched research resource that benefits both the China Data Center and China, Bao said. "The visitors interact with each other here and generate more new directions and initiatives for developing spatial science. When they go back, we have built up connections with their institutions in China."

This year's China Data Center visiting scholars are:

Liwei Fan
Wuhan University
He received a master's degree from the State Key Laboratory of Information Engineering in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing (LIESMARS) at Wuhan University. He has a major in geographic information systems and is working on the development and maintenance of the CDC's US Geo-Explorer product.

Zhuojuan Hu
Xiamen University
She is a PhD student sponsored by the China Scholarship Council. Her research involves the valuation of intellectual property and research and development, and comparative study of returns to R&D in the United States and China.

Xiang Kong  
East China Normal University, Shanghai
He is an associate professor at ECNU and a graduate of Peking Normal University and ECNU. His research interests are construction of social and cultural space in the era of globalization, development of industrial zones, and eco-civilization and innovation of regional development.

Jinjuan Li
Lanzhou University
She has been a CDC visiting scholar since 2011. Her research interest is religion and arts. She has studied the spatial distribution of Buddhist monasteries in northwest China and the Dunhuang family caves of the ninth and tenth centuries.

Hao Luo
Sun Yat-sen University, Canton
He is a faculty member of the Business School at SYSU and a former associate professor at Nanjing University. He received his PhD from NanKai University, Tianjin, and has published 50 articles in academic journals. His research interests are in regional economics, tourism economics, and growth and development.

Haiying Ma
East China University of Science and Technology, Shanghai
He is an associate professor at ECUST. He received his PhD from Jilin University. His research interests are risk management and public relations management.

Jianxun Rui  
Shanghai Normal University
He is on the faculty of Shanghai Normal University and is a graduate of Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou. His research interests are geospatial intelligence, geographic information services, and natural disaster assessment.

Renli Shao
Xianyang Normal University
She is on the faculty of Xianyang Normal University and is a graduate of North-West University, Xi'an city. She has 30 published papers and 2 published works. Her research interests involve regional economies. She has hosted or participated in 15 research projects, and has taught courses in international economics and international trade.

Miao Shui      
Wuhan University
He is a master's degree candidate at LIESMARS at Wuhan University, with a major in geographic information engineering. He is working on the development and maintenance of the China Geo-Explorer and the Spatial Explorer of Religion products.

Juergen Symanzik
Utah State University
He is an associate professor (with tenure) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Utah State University, Logan. He received his PhD in Statistics and Computer Science from Iowa State University, Ames. His research interests include Dynamic Statistical Graphics (DSG) and Virtual Reality (VR).

Xiaojuan Wang
Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences
She is on the SASS faculty. She received her PhD from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou. Her research interests are in regional economies and industrial clusters, and she is studying the industrial spatial performance of new areas in China.

Ruan Xiaobo
Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences
He is an economics research associate who is a graduate of Sun Yat-Sen University. His research interests involve regional economies.

Kailiang Yu
Fudan University, Shanghai
He is a PhD student who received a bachelor's degree in GIS from Wuhan University. His research interests are historical geography and historical demography.

Fayong Zhang  
China University of Geosciences, Wuhan and Beijing
He is a faculty member at CUG and vice president of Zondy Cyber Group, which is the largest professional Geographic Information Systems platform supplier in China. His research interests are geospatial business intelligence service, applications of GIS, and GIS platforms.

Xueliang Zhang  
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics
He is an associate professor at the Research Institute of Finance and Economics. His research interests involve Spatial Economy.

Yexi Zhong    
Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang
He is director of the Regional Development and Planning Institute of JXNU and a professor at the university. His research interests are spatial analysis in the field of humanities and social sciences, and he is doing research in Spatial Religion.