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Jan. 25, 2011

CONTACT: K.E. Schwab




Chinese scholar shares work with SRU computer science faculty


SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. –Yan Li, a faculty member and associate dean at China’s South China Normal University, is visiting Slippery Rock University as a research scholar.

            Li, who teaches computer science courses and is director of the Spatial Information Research Center at her home university, has been in the U.S. since October as part of her research work. Since arriving at SRU earlier this month, she has been spending time with David Dailey, professor of computer science and internationally recognized scholar and expert in scalable vector graphics.

            SVG is a computer standards system that allows graphics to be precisely displayed in any size without distortion. Dailey is the author of a book on the standards now used throughout the  Worldwide Web community.

            “Dr. Li’s work primarily involves issues in geographic information systems, which has drawn my interest because of its connection to SVG. She will be working with fellow members of the SRU computer science faculty and quite possibly with Jack Livingston in the geography, geology and the environment, as part of her research,” Dailey said.

            “She is clearly an established and respected scholar in China, and we are delighted to have her here on campus. Our department’s faculty and staff have been working to help her settle in,” he said.

            “As part of my U.S. visit, I have spent time at the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus working with Michael Goodchild, professor of geography and director of the Center for Spatial Studies there. I also attended a conference in Orlando Fla.,” Li said.

            Li will be at SRU through March.

            “Her projects are varied,” Dailey said. “The overall thrust involves computational geometry and GIS applications that include SVG and in helping to establish the standard that encompasses the way special information is encoded in Web browsers.”

Her initial plan was to prepare two research papers, but she admits, the work has been daunting. She has revised her plan to now complete one comprehensive paper – and work on her book dealing with special reasoning.

Her home university, which provided a study grant to the U.S., has a long history and rich legacy, she said. It enrolls between 12,000 and 15,000 students annually as undergraduates and 5,000 to 6,000 graduate students. The school, located at Guangzhou, China, about an hour south of Hong Kong, enrolls nearly 1,000 doctoral students.

Like SRU, SCNU has long associated itself with training quality teachers. In recent years the University has worked to become both a comprehensive teaching and research-oriented university.

Li said most of her recent work has involved mapping in SVG.

At SRU she has spent time in computer science classes, including those teaching SVG. In China, her classes range from 50 to 100 students each semester, depending on student interest.

She was educated at Xinjiang University and undertook her graduate work at the International Institute for Geo-information Sciences and Earth Observation. She served on the faculty of the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Dailey said her work could help the World Wide Web standards community give more power to geographers and their ability to provide geographic information. “Dr. Li has been writing articles for years on ways to improve imaging standards so geographers and cartographers will have more information and more usable information for cartographic applications,” Dailey said.

The researchers’ work is also expected to draw the attention of World Wide Web Consortium officials who may visit campus for discussions later this semester.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.