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Dr Feng Mao

Dr Feng Mao

Associate Professor

 Feng dot Mao at warwick dot ac dot uk

  R2.14, Ramphal Building, School for Cross-Faculty Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL


Dr Feng Mao is Associate Professor of Global Sustainable Development. His key research interests lie in the intersection of water, ecosystems, society, and technologies, focusing on three main themes: (i) water security and resilience, (ii) hydro-ecosystems under change, and (iii) data technologies and sustainability strategies, such as serious games, citizen science, low-cost sensor networks, visualisation, and data governance.

Research interests

  • Water security; river and mangrove ecosystems; water resources and disasters
  • Resilience and sustainability
  • Data technologies; low-cost sensor networks; visualisation
  • Environmental governance; serious games; citizen science; participatory approaches


  • PhD in Geography, University of Cambridge (2015)
  • MPhil in Politics, University of Cambridge (2010)
  • MRes in Biodiversity and Conservation, University of Leeds (2009)
  • BSc in Biological Sciences, Zhejiang University (2009)

Career overview

  • Associate Professor of Global Sustainable Development, University of Warwick (2022 - present)
  • Lecturer in Physical Geography and Environmental Sustainability, Cardiff University (2020-2022)
  • Visiting Scholar, Stanford University (2020)
  • Visiting Scholar, Northwestern University (2019)
  • Research Fellow, University of Birmingham (2015-2020)
  • Theme Lead for Complex Ecosystems and Climate Change, Institute for Global Sustainable Development, University of Warwick
  • Theme Lead for Water Security in a Changing World, Commonwealth Futures Climate Research Programme, Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • Founder and Lead, GamEngage, an international network for serious games
  • Co-Director, Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships Programme, University of Warwick
  • Director of Research Support, School for Cross-Faculty Studies, University of Warwick
  • Co-founder, Resilient Cities in Fragile Contexts Research Network, Cardiff University
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society
  • Member, American Geophysical Union
  • Member, European Geosciences Union
  • Member, International Association of Hydrological Sciences

Peer-reviewed journal papers

  • Zhang, X., Mao, F., Gong, Z., Hannah, D.M., Cai, Y., Wu, J., 2023. A disaster-damage-based framework for assessing urban resilience to intense rainfall-induced flooding. Urban Climate. 48, 101402.
  • Li, Z., Mao, F., Wu, C., (2022) Can we share models if sharing data is not an option? Patterns 3(11), 100603.
  • Mao, F., Miller J.D., Young, S.L., Krause, S., Hannah, D.M., and HWISE Research Coordination Network (2022) Inequality of household water security follows a Development Kuznets Curve. Nature Communications 13, 4525.
  • Ward, A., Packman, A., Bernal, S., Brekenfeld, N., Drummond, J., Graham, E., Hannah, D., Klaar, M., Krause, S., Kurz, M., Li, A., Lupon, A., Mao, F., Martí, E., Ouellet, V., Royer, T., Stegen, J., and Zarnetske, J. (2022) Advancing river corridor science beyond disciplinary boundaries with an inductive approach to hypothesis generation, Hydrological Processes.
  • Chen, Y., Ge, Y., Yang, G., Wu, Z., Du, Y., Mao, F., Liu, S., Xu, R., Qu, Z., Xu, B., & Chang, J. (2022). Landscape and Urban Planning Inequalities of urban green space area and ecosystem services along urban center-edge gradients. Landscape and Urban Planning, 217, 104266.
  • Chang, J., Yang, G., Liu, S., Jin, H., Wu, Z., Xu, R., Min, Y., Zheng, K., Xu, B., Luo, W., Mao, F., Ge, Y., & Cheong, K. H. (2022). A Gradient Model for the Spatial Patterns of Cities. Advanced Theory and Simulations, 2100486.
  • Wu, C., Xu, C., Mao, F., Xu, X., & Zhang, C. (2022). The impact of invisible-spreaders on COVID-19 transmission and work resumption. Plos One, 17(1), e0252994.
  • Liu, S., Yang, G., Wu, Z., Mao, F., Qu, Z., Ge, Y., and Chang, J. (2021) Studying the distribution patterns, dynamics and influencing factors of city functional components by gradient analysis. Scientific Reports. 11, 17802. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-97208-4
  • Chang, J., Ge, Y., Wu, Z., Du, Y., Pan, K., Yang, G., Ren, Y., Heino, M.P., Mao, F., Cheong, K.H., Qu, Z., Fan, X., Min, Y., Peng, C., and Meyerson, L.A. (2021) Modern cities modelled as "super-cells" rather than multicellular organisms: Implications for industry, goods and services. doi: 10.1002/bies.202100041
  • Mao, F., Ullah, S., Gorelick, S., Hannah, D.M., and Krause, S. (2021) Increasing nutrient inputs risk an upsurge of global nitrous oxide emission from mangrove ecosystems. One Earth. doi:10.1016/j.oneear.2021.04.007
  • Junqueira, A. M., Mao, F., Mendes, T. S. G., Simões, S. J. C., Balestieri, J. A. P., & Hannah, D. M. (2021). Estimation of river flow using CubeSats remote sensing. Science of The Total Environment, 788, 147762.
  • Karpouzoglou, T., Dewulf, A., Perez, K., Gurung, P., Regmi, S., Isaeva, A., Foggin, M., Bastiaensen, J., Hecken, G.V., Zulkafli, Z., Mao, F., Clark, J., Hannah, D.M., Sagar, P., Buytaert, W., Cieslik, K. (2020) From present to future development pathways in fragile mountain landscapes. Environmental Science and Policy. 114, 606–613. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2020.09.016
  • Hannah, D.M., Lynch, I., Mao, F., Miller, J., Young, S.L. and Krause, S. (2020) Water and sanitation for all in a pandemic, Nature Sustainability. doi: 10.1038/s41893-020-0593-7
  • Mao, F., Khamis, K., Clark, J., Krause, S., Buytaert, W., Ochoa-Tocachi, B. F., Hannah, D.M. (2020) Moving beyond the technology: a socio-technical roadmap for low-cost water sensor network applications. Environmental Science and Technology. doi: 1021/acs.est.9b07125
  • Docherty, J., Mao, F., Buytaert, W., Clark, J., Hannah, D. (2020) A framework for understanding water-related multi-hazards in a sustainable development context. Progress of Physical Geography. doi:
  • Mao, F., Khamis K., Krause, S., Clark J., Hannah D.M. (2019) Low-cost environmental sensor networks: recent advances and future directions. Frontiers in Earth Science. doi:
  • Dewulf, A., Karpouzoglou, T., Warner, J., Wesselink, A.J., Mao, F., Vos, J., Tamas, P., Groot, A., Heijmans, A., Ahmd, F., Hoang, L., Vij, S., Buytaert, W (2019) The power to define resilience in social-hydrological systems: towards a power-sensitive resilience framework. WIREs Water. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1377
  • Mao, F., Zhao, X., Ma, P., Chi, S., Richards, K., Clark, J., Hannah, D. M., Krause, S. (2019) Revision of biological indices for aquatic systems: A ridge-regression solution. Ecological Indicators. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.105478
  • Ochoa-Tocachi, B. F., Bardales, J. D., Antiporta, J., Pérez, K., Acosta, L., Mao, F., Zulkafli, Z., Gil-Ríos, J., Angulo, O., Grainger, S., Gammie, G., Bièvre, B. D., and Buytaert, W. (2019) Potential contributions of pre-Inca infiltration infrastructure to Andean water security. Nature Sustainability. doi: 10.1038/s41893-019-0307-1
  • Mao, F., Zhao, X., Ma, P., Chi, S., Richards, K., Clark, J., Hannah, D. M., Krause, S. (2019) Developing composite indicators for ecological water quality assessment based on network interactions and expert judgment. Environmental Modelling and Software, 115: 51-62. doi: 10.1016/j.envsoft.2019.01.011
  • Mao, F., Richards, K., Toland, M., Shi, Y., Hannah, D. and Krause, S. (2019) rivervis: a tool for visualising river ecosystems. Computers and Geosciences, 123: 59-64. doi: 10.1016/j.cageo.2018.11.007
  • Regmi, S., Bhusal, J., Gurung, P., Zulkafli, Z., Karpouzoglou, T., Ochoa, B., Buytaert, W. and Mao, F. (2019) Learning to cope with water variability through participatory monitoring: The case study of the Mountainous region, Nepal. Meteorology Hydrology and Water Management. 7. doi:10.26491/mhwm/106021.
  • Mao, F., Clark, J., Buytaert, W., Krause, S., and Hannah, D. (2018) Water sensor network applications: Time to move beyond the technical? Hydrological Processes, 32:2612–2615. doi:10.1002/hyp.13179
  • Du, Y., Ge, Y., Ren, Y., Fan, X., Pan, K., Lin, L, Wu, X., Min, Y., Meyerson, L., Heino, M., Chang, S., Liu, X., Mao, F., Yang, G., Peng, C., Qu, Z., Chang, J., and Didham, R. (2018) A global strategy to mitigate the environmental impact of China’s ruminant consumption boom, Nature Communications, 9:4133. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-06381-0
  • Mao, F., Clark, J., Karpouzoglou, T., Dewulf, A., Buytaert, W., and Hannah, D. (2017) A conceptual framework for assessing socio-hydrological resilience under change. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, doi:10.5194/hess-2016-499.
  • Clark, J., Gurung, P., Chapagain, P. S., Regmi, S., Bhusal, J. K., Karpouzoglou, T., Mao, F. and Dewulf, A. (2017) Water as “Time-Substance”: The Hydrosocialities of Climate Change in Nepal. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, doi: 10.1080/24694452.2017.1329005
  • Pandeya, B., W. Buytaert, Z. Zulkafli, Karpouzoglou, T., Mao, F., Hannah, D. (2016) A comparative analysis of ecosystem services valuation approaches for application at the local scale and in data scarce regions. Ecosystem Services, 22: 250–259, doi:10.1016/j.ecoser.2016.10.015.
  • Grainger, S., Mao, F., Buytaert, W. (2016) Environmental data visualisation for non-scientific contexts: Literature review and design framework. Environmental Modelling and Software, 85: 299–318,
  • Mao, F. and Richards, K.S. (2012) Irreversible river water quality and the concept of the reference condition. Area, 44: 423–431, doi:10.1111/j.1475-4762.2012.01124.x.

Book chapters

  • Xu, L., Mao, F., Famiglietti, J.S., Pomeroy J.W., Pahl-Wostl C. (2021) Understanding cascading effects of resilience in human-water systems: a conceptual framework, in Multisystemic Resilience: Adaptation and Transformation in Contexts of Change. Edited by Dr Michael Ungar. Oxford University Press.
  • Karpouzoglou, T. and Mao, F. (2018) What lies ahead? The future of the earth and society as an adaptive system, in Climate Changes in the Holocene: Their Impacts and Human Adaptation, edited by Chiotis, E., CRC Press. ISBN: 9780815365938


  • Mao, F., Shi, Y. and Richards, K.S. (2014) rivervis: River Visualisation Tool. R package. URL
  • Dissertation/Independent Study (Module convenor)
  • Challenges of Climate Change

I am interested in supervising students and postdoctoral researchers working on topics including, but not limited to: water security; river ecosystems; water resources and disasters; climate resilience and adaptation; environmental and social data science; environmental policy and governance; serious games; citizen science; visualisation. Please get in touch to discuss your project ideas.

Find more about postgraduate research financial supportLink opens in a new window and postgraduate research opportunitiesLink opens in a new window at Warwick.

I am currently looking for an enthusiastic researcher to improve our understanding of water resilience using secondary dataLink opens in a new window. It is a fully funded PhD positionLink opens in a new window in the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Programme - TRANSFORMLink opens in a new window.