Episode 147: Living with uncertainty – using near-surface in urban settings

Yunyue Elita Li discusses her upcoming South & East Asia Honorary Lecture, “Listening to Singapore: Harvesting urban noise for space, water, and hazard mitigation.”

Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas with a projected growth of over two-thirds in 2050. The city-state of Singapore faces the challenges of supporting a sustainable urban system with a growing population in a limited land, sea, and air space. The only direction to develop is toward the subsurface. 

In this conversation with host Andrew Geary, Elita shares how she designed novel signal processing techniques that turn urban hum into rich information about the urban system, both above and below the surface. She also highlights newly-developed fiber sensing technology using existing dark fiber infrastructure that has the potential to enable a million-sensor system underneath each major city around the globe. Elita also outlines what public officials, citizens, and engineers should understand about geophysics to support sustainable practices and growth in urban environments. This episode is full of communication tips and scientific insights to improve life in our cities.

Seismic Soundoff · 147: Living with uncertainty – using near-surface in urban settings

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Dr. Yunyue Elita Li recently joined the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science at Purdue University as a Mary J. Elmore New Frontiers Associate Professor in Data Science in August 2021. Before that, she worked in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore as an assistant professor in 2016. Elita did her postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holding a joint position in the Earth Resources Laboratory and the Department of Mathematics. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in geophysics from Stanford University in 2014 and 2010, respectively. She obtained her B.S. degree in Information and Computational Science from China University of Petroleum, Beijing in 2008. Elita’s research group works on geophysical applications in urban environments for smart cities and sustainable developments. By integrating geophysical inversion techniques, ambient noise data analysis, and distributed sensor networks, her group focuses its research efforts on the development of non-invasive, high-resolution, and real-time systems to solve pressing challenges in space, water, security, and sustainability. Elita was the recipient of the J. Clarence Karcher Award from SEG in 2018 and was nominated as the SEG South & East Asia Honorary Lecturer for 2022.


SEG produces Seismic Soundoff to benefit its members, the scientific community, and to inform the public on the value of geophysics. To show your support for the show, please leave a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. It takes less than five seconds to leave a 5-star rating and is the number one action you can take to show your appreciation for this free resource. And follow the podcast while you are on the app to be notified when each new episode releases. 

Original music created by Zach Bridges. This episode was hosted, edited, and produced by Andrew Geary at 51 features, LLC. Thank you to the SEG podcast team: Jennifer Cobb, Kathy Gamble, and Ally McGinnis.

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