Great Problems Great Minds Seminar Series: Toward Carbon Neutral: A Discussion on New Planning and Research Challenges



Join the Department of Social Sciences for this Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series event featuring guest speaker Yan Song, a professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Song will present, “Toward Carbon Neutral: A Discussion on New Planning and Research Challenges” on Thursday, March 30, 2023 over Zoom from 12:40–1:40 p.m.


In the context of low carbon and sustainable city development, new urban forms emerge that focus on transforming existing urban and suburban landscapes, which involves retrofitting initiatives that are often referred to as the 5Rs: regreening, retransportation, recapital, redensification, and rehabitation (5Rs). Accurately identifying and implementing the 5Rs remains a significant challenge, so researchers are increasingly turning to new sources of big data and harnessing the power of machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL) methods to develop novel strategies for researching urban and suburban retrofitting. These advanced techniques offer the potential to better understand complex urban systems, analyze the impact of the 5Rs, and propose targeted interventions to foster sustainable cities. This presentation will delve into the challenges associated with urban and suburban retrofitting to address these issues, aiming to spark a discussion on the future of low carbon, urban environments, and sustainable cities by the integration of the 5Rs with innovative ML and DL.


Song received her Ph.D. in regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, her M.S. in planning from Florida State University, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture engineering from Shenzhen University. Song’s research has mainly focused on low carbon and green cities, plan evaluation, land use development and regulations, spatial analysis of urban spatial structure and urban form, land use and transportation integration, and how to accommodate research in the above fields by using planning supporting systems, such as urban analytics, GIS, and other computer-aided planning tools. Her research has led to many research articles in the fields of planning, urban economics, and land use, published in high-quality journals such as the Journal of American Planning Association, Journal of Urban Economics, and Land Use Policy. Song’s research projects have been supported by the National Science Foundation, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

The event is part of the Great Problems, Great Minds seminar series which explores the major problems facing humanity as we move into the heart of the twenty-first century. To see the full schedule and videos from previous events, visit the seminar series page. For more information, contact Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Hao Huang at

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