Dr. Qing TIAN 

Assistant Professor

Computational Social Science

College of Science

George Mason University

 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: (703) 993-1405

Email: qtian2@gmu.edu



Academic degrees

Ph. D., 2011, University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources and Environment (Advisor: Daniel Brown)

M. Sc., 2002, George Mason University, Computer Science

M. Sc., 1993, Chinese Academy of Sciences, GIS and Remote Sensing

B. Sc., 1990, Peking University, Computer Science


Additional training

2012, Post-doc, University of Michigan, Ford School of Public Policy (Advisor: Robert Axelrod)

09/1996, attended the 2nd International Workshop on Parallel Processing and Supercomputing Applications in Science and Engineering, International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy

02/199605/1996, completed the 34th IRI Specialized Training Course for Technicians, Rome, Italy, including a certificate on remote sensing applications at the European Space Agency (ESA), Frascati, Italy


Computer languages

C, C++, C#, Java, Python


Natural languages

English, Mandarin Chinese, Italian


I am an interdisciplinary researcher with broad interests in land use, development, human-environment systems, and complex adaptive systems in general. My research integrates social, economic, environmental and institutional perspectives and combines computer modeling with other methods (surveys, interviews, and spatial analysis) to study land use and development in less developed areas and sustainability of human-environment systems. I am also interested in policy from the perspective of complex adaptive systems and, related to this, human cognition and decision making. My current projects examine the influence of urbanization on agricultural land use and synergy between broader development and climatic adaptation in China.

ACADEMIC Appointments

2012 – present, Assistant Professor, tenure-track, Department of Computational Social Science, George Mason University

2012 – 2013, Research Associate, Center for Social Complexity, Mason-Smithsonian Joint Project on Climate and Society

2001 – 2005, Software Engineer, Veritas Software, Reston, VA

1997, Research Fellow, International Center for Science and High Technology (ICS), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Trieste, Italy

1993 – 1999, Assistant Research Professor, Institute of Remote Sensing Applications, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China


Peer-reviewed journal articles

Tian, Q., Brown, D.G., Bao, S, Qi, S. (2015). Assessing and mapping human well-being for sustainable development amid flood hazards: Poyang Lake Region of China. Applied Geography, 63, 66-76.

Tian, Q., Brown, D.G., Zheng, L., Qi, S., Liu, Y., Jiang, L. (2015).The role of cross-scale social and environmental contexts in household-level land-use decisions, Poyang Lake Region. Annals of Association of American Geographers. DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.

Tian, Q., Holland, J. H., Brown, D.G. (in review). Social and economic impacts of subsidy policies on rural development in the Poyang Lake Region, China: insights from an agent-based model. Agricultural Systems.

Tian, Q., Guo, L., Zheng, L. (in review). Understanding local and macro processes underlying rural livelihoods in the context of urbanization: Poyang Lake Region of China. Journal of Rural Studies.

Qi, S., Brown, D.G., Tian, Q., Jiang, L., Zhao, T., Bergen, K. (2009). Inundation extent and flood frequency mapping for the Poyang Lake, China, floodplain using Landsat TM and DEM. GIScience and Remote Sensing, 46(1), 101-127.

Jiang, L., Bergen, K.M., Brown, D.G., Zhao, T., Tian, Q., Qi, S. (2009). Land-cover change and vulnerability to flooding near Poyang Lake, Jiangxi Province, China. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, 74(6), 775-786.

Tian, Q., Feoli, E. 1999. A new algorithm for improving remote sensing image classification with other spatial data based on GOODALL's affinity index. Journal of Remote Sensing, China, 3(3), 187-192, 246.

Yan, S. Y., Xiao, C. S., Tian, Q., Zhou, Y., Wang, S. X. (1997). Chinese agricultural statistical geographic information system and its applications. Journal of Remote Sensing, China, 1(2), 152-156.

Yan, S. Y., Tian, Q., Wang, S. X. (1996). Preliminary study on development of general software tool for spatial decision support system. Remote Sensing on Environment, China, 11(1), 68-78.

Contributions to books                                     

Institute of Remote Sensing Applications/Chinese Academy of Sciences (1997). Agricultural Atlas of China (English Version), Star Map Press: Beijing. “joint co-author”

Institute of Remote Sensing Applications/Chinese Academy of Sciences (1997). Agricultural Atlas of China (Chinese Version), Star Map Press: Beijing. “joint co-author”

Tian, Q. 1992. Attribute data management in GIS, in Yan, S. (ed.) Theory and Technology of GIS (in Chinese).


2014, George Mason Summer Research Grant ($4860)

2008 – 2011, NASA Earth and Space Science Graduate Fellowship for doctorate dissertation research ($90,000)

2008 – 2010, Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute Graduate Fellowship for doctorate dissertation research ($50,000)


2011, Nominated for ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award

2011, Rackham One-term Dissertation Fellowship Award, the University of Michigan (including a stipend of $8600 and tuition)

2007, Alvan Macauley Award (recipients attained an "A" average for their first term at School of Natural Resources and Environment, $1000)



CSS 605 Object-Oriented Modeling of Social Science

CSS 643 Land-Use Modeling Techniques and Applications

CSS 665 Complex Adaptive Systems and Policy

CSS 692 Social Network Analysis


Co-chaired the session Toward a Habitable Planet at an ICAM/SFI workshop on Gateways to Emergent Behavior in Science and Society, Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, September 23-26, 2013 (sponsored by SFI)

Taught a seminar on Complex Adaptive Systems, ABM and Policy at the School of Public Policy and Governance, Tsinghua University, Beijing, December 10, 2014