Dr. Luo’s current research focuses on terrestrial and Martian surface processes, GIS application in public health and linguistic geography, and Web-based technology in enhancing teaching and learning. Most of his research topics are interdisciplinary in nature and involves collaboration with other researchers.

Specific areas include:


In Print or online



06/13 – 08/17 PI, Estimating Global Volume of Excavation by Fluvial Processes on Mars: Inferring Volume of Water and Its Implications, NASA – Mars Data Analysis Program (grant # NNX13AK65G, $290,905)

08/12 – 08/16 PI (with Co-I Jon Pelletier at University of Arizona), WILSIM2, The Next Generation Landform Simulator, NSF – Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Program (TUES) (award # DUE-1140375, $236,031, NIU portion)

05/08 – 05/12 PI (with Co-I Tomasz Stepinski at Lunar and Planetary Inst.), Global GIS Database of Drainage on Mars, NASA – Mars Data Analysis Program ($353,401)

09/06 – 02/11 Co-PI (with PI John F. Hartmann and Co-PI Fahui Wang), A Regional Approach to Spatial Analysis of Tai Toponyms in Southern China and Southeast Asia Using GIS, NSF – Human and Social Dynamics ($124,963)

02/04 – 01/09 Co-PI (with PI Liping Di at George Mason Univ.), Mobilization of NASA EOS Data and Information through Web Services and Knowledge Management Technologies for Higher Education Teaching and Research, NASA – Earth Science REASoN: Research, Education and Applications Solutions Network: A Distributed Network of Data and Information Providers for Earth Science Enterprise Science, Applications and Education ($70,000, subcontract)

05/05 – 05/08 PI (with Co-I Kathy Kitts), MARS Valley Networks Project: Martian Valley Network Analysis Run-off or Sapping? NASA – Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) program ($30,000)

05/04 – 05/08 PI (with Collaborators Alan Howard at Univ. of Virginia and Ray Arvidson at Washington Univ.), Comprehensive Morphometric Analysis of Martian Valley Network Basins: Evaluating Relative Role of Groundwater Sapping vs. Surface Runoff, NASA – Mars Data Analysis Program ($187,032)

03/02 – 02/04 Principal Investigator (with Kirk Duffin and Jay Stravers), “Web-Based Interactive Simulation of Landform Evolution,” Course, Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program, National Science Foundation ($75,000)

09/01 – 08/03 Principal Investigator (with Fahui Wang and Carolinda Douglas), “Primary Care Physician Shortage & Spatial Accessibility,” Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Department of Health and Human Services ($100,000)

06/00 – 05/01 Principal Investigator, “Physician Shortage Area and Health Care Accessibility: A GIS approach,” NIU-Social Science Research Institute, Faculty Fellowship for 2000-2001 ($11,956)


Web-based Interactive Landform Simulation Model – Cellular Automata (WILSIM-CA) (funded by NSF).

Web-based Interactive Landform Simulation Model – Grand Canyon (WILSIM-GC) (funded by NSF).

Press release about Dr. Luo’s NASA grant

Press release about Dr. Luo’s research supporting the northern Martian Ocean hypothesis

Press release about Dr. Luo’s NASA grant at

An article about Dr. Luo and Dr. Hartmann's collaborative research on Linguistic Geography at

Last updated 9/26/2017.