Welcome to the Hydroclimatology Group at O’Neill School at Indiana University Bloomington! We are interested in fundamental and applied questions in the interrelations among climate, water, and people. Our group seeks to provide a comprehensive understanding of variability, drivers, and impacts of two representations of changes in the water cycle in a warming world: (1) hydroclimatic extremes such as drought and flooding, and (2) water availability. We use a wide range of approaches including process-based hydrologic models, hydrologic theory, fully coupled Earth System Models, spatiotemporal statistical modeling, machine learning, big data, GIS, and remote sensing. The overarching goal of our research is to inform vital strategies for managing compound and cascading risks posed by climate change and fostering resilient responses.

I am looking for a Ph.D. student starting Fall 2024 and master students starting Spring 2024 or Fall 2024. Feel free to reach out to me, briefly outlining your research interests and background. For more information, you can refer to the details provided in Opportunities.


Aug. 2023: I participated in the ForceSMIP Hackathon at National Center for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in Boulder, CO. The hackathon aims to stimulate participation in ForceSMIP (see About), especially among early-career researchers. 

Aug. 2023: I am honored to be selected as one of the 15 geographers participating in the inaugural “Elevate the Discipline” program by the American Association of Geographers (AAG), focused on the theme of “Climate and Society” and based in Washington D.C. The program trains scientists to leverage the media and other public channels as voices for public policies. Check out the cohort!

Aug. 2023: I join the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at the Indiana University Bloomington as a tenure-track Assistant Professor! I will look for future grad students. Feel free to reach out briefly outlining your research interests and background.

Apr. 2023: My co-first-authored paper is published in Journal of Hydrometeorology: “Developing Impacts-Based Drought Thresholds for Ohio”. Check it out!

Oct. 2022: My first-authored paper is published in Water Resources Research: “Projection of Streamflow Change Using a Time-Varying Budyko Framework in the Contiguous U.S”. Check it out!

Feb. 2022: My co-authored paper is published in Journal of Cleaner Production: “Green innovation and enterprise green total factor productivity at a micro level: A perspective of technical distance”. This is an interdisciplinary study that lies at the intersection of sustainability, environmental science, and economics. Check it out!

Dec. 2021: I am honored to be one of the five winners of the Story Exchange “Our Women in Science Incentive Prize” ($5,000), a grant award that recognizes innovative female scientists working in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation in the U.S. Check out the media coverage at Story Exchange, Dartmouth News, and Dartmouth Geography Department.

Sept. 2021: I will be joining Prof. Justin Mankin’s Climate Modeling and Impacts Group as a postdoc research associate at Dartmouth College!

Jul. 2021: I successfully defended my Ph.D. in Geography at the Department of Geography at The Ohio State University. My dissertation is titled “Dominant Drivers of Hydrological Change and Prediction of Future Streamflow in the Contiguous United States”. Check out my dissertation at OhioLINK.

Jun. 2021: My first-authored paper is published in Journal of Hydrology: “Investigating spatial heterogeneity of the controls of surface water balance in the contiguous United States by considering anthropogenic factors”. Check it out!

May 2021: My first-authored paper is published in Water Resources Research: “Identifying the Dominant Drivers of Hydrological Change in the Contiguous United States”. Check it out!

May 2021: I am honored to receive the E. Willard & Ruby S. Miller Fellowship ($4,000), the highest recognition the Department of Geography at OSU is giving to Ph.D. students.

Jun. 1, 2020: I am honored to get my doctoral dissertation funded through the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Award ($17,023; with PI Steven Quiring). Check out my public abstract.

Jan. 2020: I am honored to receive the Matthew J. Parker Travel Grant (~$1,400) to attend the American Meteorological Society (AMS) 2020 Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.

Nov. 22, 2019: I am honored to receive the Presidential Fellowship ($32,100), the most prestigious award that the Graduate School bestows at OSU. Check out the College News.

Oct. 31, 2019: I am honored to receive the Toracinta scholarship ($2,000). Check out the News.

Oct. 2019: My co-authored paper is published in Energy: “Comparison of three short-term load forecast models in Southern California”. Check it out!

Feb. 2019: My first-authored paper is published in Anthropocene: “Impact of climate change on precipitation patterns in Houston, Texas, USA”. Check it out!


Drought Monitoring
Drought monitoring is critical for managing agriculture and water resources and for triggering state emergency response plans and hazard mitigation activities. Fixed drought thresholds (i.e., using the same threshold in all seasons and climate regions) may not properly reflect local conditions and impacts.
Water Availability
Streamflow is an important source of water for industrial and domestic uses. Changes in the trends and intra-annual variations of streamflow pose a challenge to water resources management. The goal of this research is to examine the dominant drivers of changes in streamflow over space and time and predict future streamflow across the contiguous United States.
Extreme Precipitation
Extreme precipitation events damage infrastructure and property; thus, predicting future precipitation patterns in the context of climate change is important. In this study, precipitation projections from 36 downscaled General Circulation Models (GCMs) under two Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios (RCP2.
Applied Climatology
Short-term load forecasts are important tools for electrical utilities to balance electricity supply and demand. The exponential increase in behind-the-meter solar panel installation in California has made it more difficult to accurately predict electrical load.


(2023). Developing Impacts-Based Drought Thresholds for Ohio. Journal of Hydrometeorology.


(2022). Projection of Streamflow Change Using a Time-Varying Budyko Framework in the Contiguous United States. Water Resources Research, e2022WR033016.


(2022). How Comprehensive Innovation Reform Pilot Improve Urban Green Innovation Efficiency?—Evidence from China. Sustainability, 14(8), 4550.


(2021). Identifying the Dominant Drivers of Hydrological Change in the Contiguous United States. Water Resources Research, e2021WR029738.


(2019). Comparison of three short-term load forecast models in Southern California. Energy, 189, 116358.


(2019). Impact of climate change on precipitation patterns in Houston, Texas, USA. Anthropocene, 25, 100193.


(2016). Impacts of climate change on water erosion: A review. Earth-Science Reviews, 163, 94-117.




Introduction to Environmental Science (E272), O’Neill School, Indiana University Bloomington (Spring 2024; upcoming)

Guest Lecturer

Boundary Layer Climate (G5921), The Ohio State University (Feb 2020)

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Extreme Weather and Climate (G1900), The Ohio State University (Spring 2020, Fall 2019; 32 students enrolled in each session, 4 sessions taught)

Climatology (G5900), The Ohio State University (Spring 2019; 34 students enrolled)

Global Climate Change (G3900), The Ohio State University (Fall 2018; 69 students enrolled)

Working with me

Thanks for your interests in the hydroclimatology group @O’NeillIU! Our group strives to cultivate a dynamic and inclusive environment that advances knowledge in the intersection of water, climate, and people. We value interdisciplinary collaborations and commit to fostering the growth and development of each member.

Feel free to email the PI, Zhiying Li (zl68@iu.edu), if you have ideas/projects open for collaboration. For students who share common research interests with me and would like to join the group, applications are welcome for the O’Neill Ph.D. program, Master program, and undergraduate research assistant opportunities as outlined below. Women and underrepresented minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Ph.D. students:

I am eager to work with Ph.D. students. I am looking for 1 motivated Ph.D. student for Fall 2024. I especially look for students who are interested in addressing interdisciplinary research questions in hydroclimatology using analytical and quantitative skills (e.g., Earth System Models, hydrologic models, and geospatial analysis) to inform climate change decision making. Details about the Ph.D. program in Environmental Science and admission requirements can be found here. Funding is usually through fellowships, research and/or teaching assistantship. A pdf version of the position description can be found here

Applications open September 1 and end on January 1. The Ph.D. program starts in the Fall; there is no admission for the Spring semester. In other words, if you want to start your PhD in Fall 2024 (late August), you will need to apply by Dec of the year before (2023).

You are welcome to reach out to me if you would like to apply. In your email, please briefly state your research background related to climate and hydrology, how your research interests align with mine, your quantitative and programming skills, CV, and TOEFL score if applicable as a non-native English speaker.

Master students (IUB students at O’Neill only):

I am looking forward to working with master students in Environmental Science as research assistants starting Spring 2024 or Fall 2024. If interested, please send me an email with your CV, a brief summary of your research experiences, and TOEFL score if applicable as a non-native English speaker. Potential projects include characterizing extreme precipitation using climate models and satellite observations, uncertainty in potential evapotranspiration estimation, and abrupt shifts between drought and flood events.

Undergraduate students (IUB students only):

Undergrad researchers are welcome in my group. Your research could serve as a senior thesis project or provide valuable experience for you, especially if you are considering pursuing graduate studies. If you are a current IUB student, and interested in watershed hydrology, water resources, climate modeling, and climate change, please contact me for potential opportunities. The IUB Undergraduate Research office also provides many great opportunities. I also recommend you keep an eye on the Sustainability Scholars Program.

Visiting Scholar:

I welcome motivated visiting students/scholars to join my team. While I am unable to provide funding to sponsor visitors, I am more than happy to host you if you can secure funding from your own institutions or other sources. I am able to provide subsidies to help with compensation.


  • zl68@iu.edu
  • 702 N. Walnut Grove Ave, Room 418, MSB-II, Bloomington, IN 47405
  • DM Me