Researcher Spotlight – Zekun Lin

2018-19 Global Change Fellow

Zekun Lin smiles for a photo in front of his office computers.
Ph.D. Student,
Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, Center for Geospatial Analytics
Dr. Ross Meentemeyer and  Dr. Adam Terando

Every year the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center funds a multi-disciplinary cohort of Global Change Fellows representing colleges across NC State University. Here are some highlights about 2018-19 Fellow, Zekun Lin, and the applied research he’s conducting.

What do you study?
I am interested in using remote sensing techniques, land change models, as well as statistical approaches to find answers for urban-related challenges such as: human adaptation to changes in sea level rise induced land cover changes; urbanization and population migrations; spatial analysis and urban sustainability for decision making. Currently, I am using FUTURES (FUTure Urban-Regional Environmental Simulation) models to simulate urbanization patterns in the Southeastern US under the impact of sea level rise at a centennial time scale.

What (or who) influenced you to go into this field of study?
Cities are fascinating places, where people move to experience better infrastructure, medical treatment, convenient services, and economic opportunities. Global urban population is projected to reach two-thirds of the total population by the year 2050. More land is being developed to accommodate increasing number of residents, while global climate change overlays these urban land changes. For example, sea level rise (SLR) causes inundation, restricting coastal and low elevation cities’ new development, and increasing their risk of being flooded. Simulating future urbanization patterns with the impacts of SLR, thus, becomes a significant unsolved question to support sustainable urban planning and decision making.

Who will benefit from your research?
Stakeholders can use my research as support information for decision making, land allocation plans, risk management as well as energy consumption estimation.

How do you expect the SE CASC Global Change Fellows Program to impact you and your work?
The SE CASC Global Change Fellows Program offers me a great chance to engage in communications with scientists and researchers through interesting classes, seminars, as well as discussions with pioneers in the academic realm. The conversations I have with other graduate fellows, professors, and academic researchers inspire my thoughts about the challenges of global warming, sea level rise impacts on the biosphere, human communities, as well as the lands we rely on. This program also allows multidisciplinary researchers to share their experience and knowledge, helping me to build on my existing understanding. The summer trip we took to The Great Smoky Mountains was a good example of learning through communicating with tribal and local scientific institutions, sharing opinions about scientific questions, and last but not least, having fun.

What is your dream job?
My dream job is to become a data scientist to help stakeholders, and decision makers build scientific analysis plans to rise  to the challenges of our changing global environment.