Yuan Lai

Yuan Lai is a Lecturer in Urban Science and Planning with a focus on data analytics, data visualization, and machine learning. Yuan's expertise lies at the intersection of urban information, applied data science, and urban systems. He is interested in the future connection between computer science and urban planning to address socio-technical complexities of cities. His work has been featured at the United Nations Global Pulse, Bloomberg Technology, Data for Good Exchange, NYC Media Lab, American Planning Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, IEEE, Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, and Urban Design Forum.

Prior to coming to MIT, Yuan was a research affiliate at NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management and NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). His work involves applied analytics and machine learning using large volume and variety of data related to urban environment, population health, social media, sensing network, and economic transactions. He also practiced architecture and urban design at Safdie Architects, where he worked on large scale mixed-use development projects worldwide. Yuan holds a Ph.D. in urban systems and informatics from NYU, a M.S. in applied urban science and informatics from NYU CUSP, as well as a Master of urban planning and a Bachelor of landscape architecture.

Areas of Interest
Artificial Intelligence, Computation, Health, Prototyping, Urban Design, Urban Finance, Management, and Urban Economics, Urban Information, Technology, and Media and Analytics, Visualization


2016 - 2019
PhD, Civil Engineering (Urban Systems & Informatics), NYU
2015 - 2016
MS, Applied Urban Science and Informatics, NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress
2009 - 2011
Master of Urban Planning (conc. Urban Design & GIS), SUNY Buffalo
2005 - 2009
Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Beijing Forestry University

Professional Experience

2011 - 2015
Architectural and Urban Designer, Safdie Architects


- 2018
Forefront Fellow, Urban Design Forum
- 2017
Best Data Visualization Award (team), The United Nations Data for Climate Action
- 2017
Data Science Fellow, Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange Immersion Program
- 2017
Bloomberg Augmented Reality Prototyping Fellow, Bloomberg Technology + NYC Media Lab