Peilei Fan

A native of Shanghai in China, Dr. Peilei Fan received her BS in Computer Science and MS in Geography (Nanjing University), Master in City and Regional Planning (Rutgers University), and MS in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Economic development (MIT). Her postdoc training was in the fields of innovation and urban development (United Nations University in Japan with Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tsukuba University).

Dr. Fan is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at School of Planning, Design, and Construction (SPDC) and Center for Global Change and Earth Observation (CGCEO) at Michigan State University (MSU). She was the interim director at CGCEO for 2021-22. Dr. Fan is passionate about achieving sustainability for cities and regions through efficient, just, and green processes and outcomes. She studies urban environment and sustainability, innovation and economic development, public health, and policies. Her research projects have been funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) (> $2 million grants as a PI, and > $4million as PI/Co-PI). Dr. Fan has served as a consultant/economist for the United Nations University –World Institute of Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and the Asian Development Bank. She has given invited lectures and keynote speeches at different organizations & international conferences, including as a faculty member of Executive Education Program of J.F.K. School of Government, Harvard U. (2008, 2017) and keynote speech at "From Plans to Land Change" Conference organized by Swiss Federal Research Institute (2020). She is the Secretary General of International Association of Landscape Ecology (IALE) (2019-2023) and the Deputy Director (2019-) and IALE-IUFRO Coordinator (2021-) of Landscape Ecology Working Party of International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). She also serves the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP)'s Finance & Investment Committee and was the Track Co-Chair for Food Systems, Community Health and Safety (Track 9) (2019-21). She is an associate editor of the flagship journal in the field of urban planning Landscape and Urban Planning”. She was a Core Fulbright US Senior Scholar for 2017-2018 (Taipei and Shanghai) and a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow of the National Committee on US-China Relations (2019-20). She has published 2 books and 80 peer-reviewed articles and been guest (co)editor for special issues of 6 academic journals, including as a lead author in Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Environmental Research Letter, Landscape and Urban Planning, Environmental Research, and Landscape Ecology, and a co-author of Nature Communications. She served on the review panels for NASA, EPA, and Fulbright, and was ad-hoc reviewer for NSF and multiple international organizations, including Global Land Project, UK Department of International Development.

She focuses on two lines of research that affect the sustainable future of a city/region/country: (1) human-natural interactions and their impact on environment and social equity at multiple spatial scales, particularly in cities, and (2) technology and development. Her first line of research focuses on coupled human-nature interactions in urban context, featured several federal funded projects on urbanization and sustainability in China, transitional economies in Asia, and Globalization and Southeast Asia. For the project on the transitional economies in Asia she just completed, she examined key socioeconomic and biophysical drivers, especially institutional mechanisms unique in transitional economies and global climate change, on spatiotemporal changes of urbanization and urban sustainability in Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, and the Asian Russia. Currently, she is examining how diverse local responses to globalization affected land transitions, particularly urbanization, and urban environmental changes across 7 Southeast Asian countries, i.e., Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam and 12 case cities. Her second line of research examines the role of innovation for economic development in late industrializing countries, especially in East Asia and Eastern Europe and their linkages to global innovation centers, with four sub-topics: quantifying the contribution of innovation to economic development, sectoral development, global linkages through globalization of R&D and overseas returnees, and innovative city regions. While she has researched on cities and sustainability worldwide, she is interested in promoting sustainability, economic development, urban environment, and public health of local communities in Michigan and regions in the US. Please also see her detailed professional profile at Google Scholar.


Asian Development Bank (ADB)

  • Commissioned Research Paper “Innovation in China and India” for Project “The role of innovation in escaping the middle income trap”, 2015-16

  • Economist for ADB Project “The Urbanization-Poverty-Inequality Triangle in Asia and the Pacific”, 2014-15

  • Economist for ADB Project “Urbanization in Asia”, 2012

United Nations University – World Institute of Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

  • Consultant for UNU-WIDER Project “Southern Engines of Global Growth: China, India, Brazil, and South Africa”, 2008

Research Areas

Interests: urban environment and sustainability, innovation and economic development, public health, and policy

Recent and On-going Projects:

  • (1) Divergent Local Responses to Globalization: Urbanization, Land Transition, and Environmental Changes in Southeast Asia (SEAGUL). Included countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, bench mark cities (Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo).

  • (2) China and Global Innovation System (with Prof. Denis Simon from Duke University) (finishing)

  • (3) COVID-19, Economic Vitality, and Environmental Impact: Global Synthesis & Urban Perspective (finished)

  • (4) Human health and causes across the physical-social landscapes in Michigan cities (finishing)

  • (5) Urbanization, economic development, environmental change, and social conditions: A global assessment and regional perspective

  • (6) Integration of online market place and main street in Michigan communities: Drivers, impacts, and policy implications (finished)

  • (7) Urbanization and sustainability in SENA (Southeast, East, &North Asia) included countries: China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, and North Asia of Russia (finished)

  • (8) Urbanization and environmental change under institutional change, globalization, and historical/cultural influences: Comparative analysis of Taipei and Shanghai (finished)

  • (9) Innovation & economic development in China, India and East Asia (finished)

Recent Awards

  • Public Intellectuals Program (PIP) Fellow, National Committee on US-China Relations (NCUSCR). 2019-2020.

  • Cross-disciplinary Faculty Research Award, College of Social Science, Michigan State University. 2018-19.

  • Core Fulbright US Scholar of Cross-Strait Studies Program, Council for International Exchange of Scholar (CIES), US Department of States, 2017-2018. Fulbright Research Project: Urbanization and environmental change under institutional change, globalization, and historical/cultural influences: Comparative analysis of Taipei and Shanghai.

Google Scholar Profile and Citation

CV available upon request.