Faculty Profile for Dr. Yanan Li

profile photo for Dr. Yanan Li
Dr. Yanan Li
Assistant Professor — Dept of Geography & Environmntl Studies
ELA 340
phone: (512) 245-8663

Biography Section

Biography and Education

Yanan (Nancy) Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University. As a physical geographer, Nancy's research interests include glacial geomorphology, biogeography, past climate change, and geomorphometry. She received both her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Department of Geography at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2011 and 2015, respectively. She completed her B.S. degree in Geosciences at Beijing Normal University (China) in 2008. She focused on dendrochronology (tree-ring analysis) during the M.S. program, and her master's thesis is titled “Dendroclimatic analysis of climate oscillations for the southeastern US from tree-ring network data”. Continued with her doctoral program, Nancy expanded her study to geomorphology and geospatial skills. Her doctoral dissertation research is titled “Timing and Extent of the Little Ice Age Glacial Advances in Central-Eastern Tian Shan, China”. She has received several grants and awards at department, university, and national levels, including the National Geographic Young Explorers Grant and the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant. She has published twenty-one peer-reviewed articles in high-impact journals such as Progress in Physical Geography, Quaternary Science Reviews, Annals of Glaciology, Environmental Research Letters, and Annals of American Association of Geographers.

Teaching Interests

geomorphology, field methods, weather and climate, global climate change

Research Interests

My long-term research and scholarly interests are three folds: 1) a holistic understanding of how glaciers respond to the changing climate and consequently influence other geomorphic processes and human society; 2) the application of remotely sensed data (satellites, aerial photographs, and drones) in studying mountain environments; and 3) climate history in Texas and the western US in general based on both observational data and natural proxy data.

Selected Scholarly/Creative Work

  • Li, Y., Fu, P., Chen, R., & Li, Y. (2023). Quaternary glaciations in western China: a review of the chronologies established by absolute dating. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment.
  • Li, Y. (2022). Century-long changing climate of Texas: the spatial-temporal variability and trends of temperature and precipitation. International Journal of Global Warming, 27(1), 102–122. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJGW.2022.122798
  • Li, Y., Krause, S., McLendon, A., & Jo, I. (2022). Teaching a geography field methods course amid the COVID-19 pandemic: reflections and lessons learned. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. https://doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2022.2041571
  • Lai, J., Li, Y., Chen, J., Niu, G., Lin, P., Li, Q., … Sun, Y. (2022). Massive crop expansion threatens agriculture and water sustainability in northwestern China. Environmental Research Letters, (17). https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/ac46e8
  • Li, Y. (2020). Glacier changes and their linkage to climate-topographic context in the Borohoro Mountains, Tian Shan 1977–2018. Water, 12(1502). https://doi.org/10.3390/w12051502

Selected Awards

  • Award / Honor Recipient: Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching, College of Liberal Arts, Texas State University. August 19, 2022
  • Award / Honor Nominee: Presidential Award in Teaching for an Assistant Professor, Texas State University. February 1, 2022
  • Award / Honor Recipient: 2020 Teaching Award of Honor, Texas State Alumni Association. January 15, 2020 - May 15, 2020
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Robert G. Long Outstanding Graduate Student Award, Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. April 24, 2014
  • Award / Honor Recipient: Student Publication Award, Department of Geography, University of Tennessee, Knoxville. April 24, 2014

Selected Grants

  • Li, Yanan (Principal). Chronological reconstruction of past ice ages from an alpine glacier in central Tianshan of Central Asia, Research Enhancement Program, Texas State University, $8000. (Submitted: October 4, 2023, Funded: January 18, 2024 - May 20, 2025). Grant.
  • Li, Yanan (Principal), Krause, Samantha Marie. Environmental history in the Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico, TXST Division of Research, College of Liberal Arts, and Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Texas State University, $3000. (Funded: March 9, 2023 - July 31, 2024). Grant.
  • Li, Yanan. High resolution survey and monitoring of the Continental Glacier, Wyoming, Research Enhancement Program, Texas State University, $8000. (Submitted: October 15, 2018, Funded: January 15, 2019 - May 31, 2020). Grant.
  • Zhu, Haifeng (Principal), Li, Yanan (Supporting). Multi-proxy study on glacier fluctuations of southeast Tibetan Plateau during the past millennium, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, National Natural Science Foundation of China, $160000. (Submitted: March 16, 2017, Funded: January 1, 2018 - December 31, 2021). Grant.
  • Li, Yanan. Recent Area and Elevation Changes of Glaciers in the Sikeshu River Basin in Northern Tian Shan, Scholarly Excellence Fund, South Dakota State University, $4000. (Funded: January 10, 2017 - August 1, 2017). Grant.

Selected Service Activities

Honors Committee of Paleoenvironmental Change Specialty Group, AAG
July 8, 2022-Present
Cryosphere Specialty Group, AAG
January 1, 2022-Present
Review Editor
Frontier in Big Data section – Data-driven Climate Sciences
June 1, 2021-Present
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
March 23, 2020-Present
Member representative
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
March 23, 2020-Present