Li Ran obtained a PhD degree (1989) in Power Systems Engineering from Chongqing University in China for his work on reliability evaluation of the transmission networks planned for the Three-Gorge Hydro Power Plant. He then participated in the commissioning of Gezhouba-Shanghai HVDC System (1989-1990). Between 1992 and 1999, he was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Universities of Aberdeen, Nottingham and Heriot-Watt, working on marine electrical propulsion, offshore electrical systems and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) in power electronic motor drives. He became a Lecturer with the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in 1999 and moved to Durham University in 2003 where he was promoted to a Chair in 2010. He was seconded to Alstom Power Conversion at Kidsgrove (2001-2004, 1 day per week) and took a sabbatical leave at MIT (2007-2008, 4 months).
Li joined the University of Warwick as a Professor in Power Electronics - Systems in 2012. He also acts as a Deputy Director for the State Key Laboratory in Power Transmission Equipment and System Security of China.