Yi Zhao is currently a third-year graduate student in the Department of Environmental Earth System Science at Stanford University. As a member of the Food Security and Environment group, Yi tries to quantitatively assess relative importance of various factors that contribute to yield gap, or the difference between actual yield and potential yield. Through remote sensing and physiological crop modeling, she estimates maize yield at a spatial multi-temporal scale and analyze major biophysical factors in Northern China.

Yi grew up in China, and came to the US as a high school student, stayed for college and majored in math major with a minor in economics. Yi has always been interested in environmental issues and climate change. After exploring various fields in humanities, social science and engineering in addition to math and science, she realized that the most vulnerable people to climate change are those impoverished farmers in third world countries. Thus, she decided to utilize her mathematical and quantitative skills as well as interdisciplinary background to contribute to research in food security and climate change.

Yi enjoys playing the piano, drawing, painting, and traditional Chinese dancing in her free time. She has been doing farm level survey in North China Plain to learn about farmers’ farming practices, responses to agricultural government policies, and the role of farming in their life. Yi believes that there is great potential in urban agriculture and local organic farming in large Chinese cities. In addition to interests in agriculture, Yi is also interested in traditional Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese culture. In college, she has been to Tibet to learn about indigenous people’s daily life and Buddhist practices.