Hi there! I am Rui Zhu, a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) at the School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol (UK). I am a geographer by training with a background in data science (so you can call me a spatial data scientist). Broadly speaking, I study how humans and machines organize spatial knowledge, as well as their interactions with the environment. More specifically, I combine theory-informed (e.g., geography and semantics) and data-driven (e.g., machine learning and spatial statistics) approaches to address geospatial challenges such as geospatial data interoperability, spatial predictions, and spatial reasoning. My work has been applied to a wide range of applications, including urban studies, global health, environmental modeling, as well as humanitarian relief.

Research Interests

  • GeoAI
  • GIScience
  • Spatial Statistics
  • Spatial Data Science
  • Geospatial Semantics
  • Spatiotemporal Data Mining
  • Geospatial Knowledge Graphs


I received my Ph.D. from the Department of Geography, University of California, Santa Barbara. I obtained a M.S. degree in Information Sciences from the School of Computing and Information, University of Pittsburgh and a B.S. degree in Information Management from the School of Information Management, Shanxi University of Finance and Economics, China. I have also worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Spatial Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara and a summer data science intern at the Geospatial Science and Human Security Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US.

Prospective Students/Scholars

I am recruiting talented and self-motived Master/PhD students whose research interests align with mine. In the upcoming academic year of 2022-2023, several fellowships can be applied under my supervision:

No matter which scholarship you are interested to apply, or if you are unsure, I highly recommend you to contact me first by sending (1) your CV and (2) a brief reseach statement (no need to be the final version) to rui.zhu@bristol.ac.uk. Also please be mindful of the deadline. They are the dates to submit your final application. You should contact me at least four weeks before that so that I can help you go through the process if you are qualified.

Meanwhile, I am also considering visiting scholars who are willing to work with me at the University of Bristol. Contact me if you are interested.