Welcome Zhiyuan Yao, Spatial Data Science Librarian

Please join us in welcoming Zhiyuan Yao to the UCLA Library. Zhiyuan (pronunciation: Jee-Wan), our new Spatial Data Science Librarian, will facilitate geospatial research, support, and instruction, while building a collaborative community. This position is located in the Data Science Center, a research and educZhiyuan Yao holding GIS fundamentals book by Paul Bolstad ation support unit that serves UCLA faculty, researchers, and students. In order to introduce you to our newest Library member, we asked her a few questions about coming to UCLA:

What goals/hopes do you have for this year as our new Spatial Data Science Librarian?

I am enthusiastic to join the Data Science Center group! I intend to facilitate geospatial research for the Bruin community through educational workshops, research support, collaborations, and other possible ways. I look forward to actively interacting with students, faculty, and staff to increase their accessibility to spatial analysis and provide research support to meet their needs. I also would like to build connections with professionals from other universities and the spatial community to make sure our service is helpful, efficient, collaborative, and competitive.

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the UCLA Library?

I got my doctoral degree from the Department of Geography and, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), University of Cincinnati. I have four years of professional training of spatial analysis, data modeling, statistical analysis, and scientific writing. Through my own research, I built up scientific thinking and acquired scientific competence. These skills help me provide professional support to our Bruin community. Meanwhile, I have teaching experience. I taught Introduction to GIS and GIS workshops on a regular basis at University of Cincinnati Libraries. Moreover, I worked as the GIS consultant for two years, also at University of Cincinnati Libraries, where I provided consultation service of spatial analysis. I love interacting with students, faculty, and staff, and I believe my skills, experiences, and enthusiasm for teaching have prepared me for this Spatial Data Science Librarian position.

What things will you be tackling first?

First, I look forward to expanding our service and advertising the availability of spatial analysis at our Data Science Center to the Bruin community. For example, I will set up office hours at multiple libraries to showcase our service. Secondly, I will create a database to store the service information, such as topics of service, and the department and major of the customer. I will use this information as a reference to target the groups that apply spatial analysis most and allocate more time to interact with customers from this group. Thirdly, I will collaborate with my colleagues to create workshops or develop GIS related courses to teach the Bruin community how to use spatial analysis tools and provide them with opportunities to apply spatial analysis to research and projects.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? What do you like to do outside of work?

I like reading scientific books, history books, and biographies. Currently, I am reading a book in Chinese on Artificial Intelligence: Status, Task, Structure, and Unity, written by Song-Chun Zhu, a professor from the Department of Computer Science, UCLA. As I have more and more experiences with automated customer service, I am curious about how artificial intelligence affects the traditional business models and how the changes will affect our daily life. This book reviews the development of artificial intelligence and introduces the potential applications. This book is easy-to-read and captivating. 

In my spare time, I am also fond of watching movies. The movie I watched most recently is Green Book. The contrasting personalities, genuine friendship and the historic background, combined with comedy elements, makes this movie so riveting and thought-provoking. I really enjoy the values and inspiration conveyed by this movie.

Listening to music and sometimes audio books constitutes another part of my spare time. I enjoy music when I drink tea on the balcony with shining sunshine or when I do housework. Currently, I am obsessed with J.S. Bach's Six Suites for Cello. The melody is so relaxing and calming. It helps refresh myself when my brain is full.

What are you preferred pronouns?

My preferred pronouns are She/Her/Hers.


We are delighted to have Zhiyuan at the UCLA Library. You can contact her at zyao@library.ucla.edu.