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Urban and Sustainability Research Lab (USRL)

The Urban and Sustainability Research Lab has a broad coverage, including urbanization, development, inequality, health, land use, and sustainability, with an extensive use of GIS spatial analysis. Projects include urban expansion and spatial restructuring in China funded by Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, spatial inequality in China funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, amenity, pollution and housing prices in Salt Lake County, and physical activity and health in Salt Lake City.


USRL People


Yehua Dennis Wei, Professor & Director, Department of Geography, University of Utah

Christopher A. Simon, Professor, Depatment of Political Science, University of Utah

Zhou Yu, Associated Professor, Department of Family and Consumer Studies, University of Utah

Students/Postdoctoral Researchers

Han Li, Postdoctoral Researcher

Ling Zhang, Postdoctoral Researcher

Yangyi Wu, Ph.D. Student

Weiye Xiao,Ph.D. Student

Meitong Liu, M.A. Student


Hao Huang, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Illinois Institute of Technology

Yingru Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Geosciences, Auburn University

Felix Haifeng Liao, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of Idaho

Xinyue Ye, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Kent State University


Urban Transition, Development Zones, and Land Use Restructuring in the Yangze River Delta, China 2013-2015 Wei, Y.H.D. Urban Transition, Development Zones, and Land Use Restructuring in the Yangze River Delta, China. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
A Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Intraprovincial Inequality in China 2011-2012 Wei, Y.H.D. A Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Intraprovincial Inequality in China. The Natural Science Foundation of China (Hong Kong-Macao and Overseas Scholars Collaboration Fund).
Urban Land Expansion 2011-2012 Wei, Y.H.D. Urban Land Expansion and Spatial Restructuring in the Yangtze River Delta, China. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Remaking the Sunan Model 2008-2009 Wei, Y.H.D. Remaking the Sunan Model, China. National Geographic Society.
A Comparative Study of ICT Industry Development in the Beijing, Shanghai-Suzhou, and Shenzhen-Dongguan City Regions in China 2006-2009 Wei, Y.H.D. A Comparative Study of ICT Industry Development in the Beijing, Shanghai-Suzhou, and Shenzhen-Dongguan City Regions in China. NSF
Globalization and Regional Development in the Yangtze Delta, China 2005-2007 Wei, Y.H.D. Globalization and Regional Development in the Yangtze Delta, China. Outstanding Young Scientist Award (Overseas Young Scholar Collaboration Research Fund). Natural Science Foundation of China.
Collaborative Research: Business Organization and Network Relations of Foreign Manufacturing Ventures in the Yangtze Delta Region, China 2001-2005 Wei, Y.H.D. Collaborative Research: Business Organization and Network Relations of Foreign Manufacturing Ventures in the Yangtze Delta Region, China. NSF.


To download Dr. Wei’s papers, please visit his website.

  • 2015 Wei, Y.H.D. Zone Fever, Project Fever: Development Policy, Economic Restructuring and Urban Expansion in China. Geographical Review.
  • 2015 Wei, Y.H.D. Network Linkages and Local Embeddedness of Foreign Ventures in China. Regional Studies.
  • 2015 Gu, C.L., Wei, YH.D. and Cook, I.G. Planning Beijing: Socialist City, Transitional City and Global City. Urban Geography.
  • 2015 Liao, F.H. and Wei, YH.D. Agglomeration, Scale, and Regional Inequality in Provincial China. Applied Geography.
  • 2015 Wang, Z.Y., Y.Q. Cheng, X.Y. Ye and Y.H.D. Wei. Analyzing the Space-time Dynamics of Innovation in China: ESDA and Spatial Panel Approaches. Growth and Change.
  • 2015 Li, H., Wei, Y.H.D., Liao, H.F., and Huang Z. J. Administrative hierarchy and urban land expansion in transitional China. Applied Geography 56: 177-186.

  • 2014 Liefner, I. and Y.H.D. Wei (eds.). Innovation and Regional Development in China. London and New York: Routledge.
  • 2014 Wei, Y.H.D. and X.Y. Ye (eds.). Urbanization, Land Use and Sustainable Development in China. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 28(4): 755-880.
  • 2014 Timberlake, M., Y.H.D. Wei, X. Ma and J. Hao. Global Cities with Chinese Characteristics. Cities 41: 162-170.
  • 2014 Li, H., Y.H.D. Wei an Z. Huang. Urban Land Expansion and Spatial Dynamics in Globalizing Shanghai. Sustainability 6: 8856-8875.
  • 2014 Huang, H. and Y.H.D. Wei. Intra-metropolitan Location of Foreign Direct Investment in Wuhan, China: Institution, Urban Structure, and Accessibility. Applied Geography 47: 78-88.
  • 2014 Gao, J.L, Y.H.D. Wei, W. Chen and J.L Chen. Economic Transition and Urban Land Expansion in Provincial China. Habitat International 44: 461-473.
  • 2014 Wei, Y.H.D. and X.Y. Ye. Urbanization, Urban Land Expansion, and Environmental Change in China. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 28(4): 757-765.
  • 2014 Liao, H.F. and Y.H.D. Wei. Modeling Spatial Determinants of Urban Growth in Dongguan, China. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 28(4):801-816.
  • 2014 Yue, W.Z., P.L. Fan, Y.H.D. Wei and J.G. Qi. Economic Development, Urban Expansion, and Sustainable Development in Shanghai. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment 28(4): 783-799.
  • 2014 Cheng, Y., Z. Wang, X. Ye and Y.H.D. Wei. Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Carbon Intensity from Energy Consumption in China.Journal of Geographical Science 24(4): 631-650.
  • 2014 Yuan, F., Y.H.D. Wei and W. Chen. Economic Transition, Industrial Location and Corporate Networks: Remaking the Sunan Model in Wuxi City, China. Habitat International 42: 58-68.
  • 2014 Li, Y. and Y.H.D. Wei. Multidimensional Inequalities in Health Care Distribution in Provincial China: A Case Study of Henan Province. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic andSocial Geography) 105(1): 91-106.

  • 2013 Sun, Y.F., Y. Zhou, G.C.S. Lin and Y.H.D. Wei. Subcontracting and Supplier Technology Upgrading: Evidence from China’s Information and Communication Technology Industry. Regional Studies 47(10): 1766-1784.
  • 2013 Liefner, I., Y.H.D. Wei, and G. Zeng. The innovativeness and heterogeneity of foreign-invested high-tech companies in Shanghai. Growth and Change 44(3): 522-549.
  • 2013 Liao, H.F. and Y.H.D. Wei. TNCs’ technology linkages with domestic firms: an investigation of the ICT industry in Suzhou, China. Environment and Planning C 31: 460-474.
  • 2013 Wei, Y.H.D. and F.H.F. Liao. FDI Embeddedness in Production and Innovation in China: Strategic Coupling in Global Production Networks? Habitat International 40: 82-90.
  • 2013 Wei, Y.H.D., F. Yuan and F.H. Liao. Spatial Mismatch and Determinants of Foreign and Domestic ICT Firms in China. Professional Geographer 65(2): 247-264.

  • 2012  Ye, X.Y. and Y.H.D. Wei (eds.). Globalization, Regional Development and Public Policy in Asia. Regional Science Policy and Practice 4(3): 179-333.
  • 2012  Wei, Y.H.D. and I. Liefner (eds.). Globalization, Industrial Restructuring, and Regional Development in China. Applied Geography 32(1): 102-184.
  • 2012  Liao, F.H.F. and Y.H.D. Wei. Dynamics, Space, and Regional Inequality in Provincial China: A Case Study of Guangdong Province. Applied Geography 35(1-2): 71-83.
  • 2012  Ye, X.Y. and Y.H.D. Wei. Regional Development, Disparities and Policies in Globalizing Asia. Regional Science Policy and Practice 4(3): 179-182.
  • 2012  Wei, Y.H.D. Restructuring for Growth in Urban China: Transitional Institutions, Urban   Development, and Spatial Transformation. Habitat International 36(3):396-405.
  • 2012 Wei, Y.H.D., Y. Zhou, Y.F. Sun, and G.C.S. Lin. Production and R&D Networks of Foreign Ventures in China: Implications for Technological Dynamism and Regional Development. Applied Geography. 32(1): 106-118.
  • 2012 Wei, Y.H.D. and I. Liefner. Globalization, Industrial Restructuring, and Regional Development in China. Applied Geography 32(1): 102-105.

  • 2011 Miao, C.H., Y.H.D. Wei, and L.C. Lu. Xin Jingji Dili Xue (New Economic Geographies). Beijing: Science Press.
  • 2011 Wei, Y.H.D. and Y. Zhou (eds.). Globalization, Innovation and Regional Development in China. Environment and Planning A 43(4): 781-849.
  • 2011 Liefner, I. and Y.H.D. Wei (eds.). Foreign Direct Investment, Innovation and Regional Economic Development in China. Erdkunde 65(1): 3-83.
  • 2011 Lin, G.C.S., C.C. Wang, Y. Zhou, Y.F. Sun and Y.H.D. Wei. Placing Technological Innovation in Globalising China: Production Linkage, Knowledge Exchange and Innovative Performance of the ICT Industry in a Developing Economy. Urban Studies 48(14): 2999–3018.
  • 2011 Wei, Y.H.D., I. Liefner, and C.H. Miao. Network Configurations and R&D Activities of the ICT Industry in Suzhou Municipality, China. Geoforum 42(4): 484-495.
  • 2011 Wei, Y.H.D., D.L. Yu and X.J. Chen. Scale, Agglomeration, and Regional Inequality in Provincial China. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic andSocial Geography). 102(4): 406-425.
  • 2011 Hao, H. and Y.H.D. Wei. Spatial and Temporal Patterns and Determinants of Foreign Investment in China.  Erdkunde 65(1): 7-23.
  • 2011 Liefner, I. and Y.H.D. Wei. Geography and the Research on Contemporary China. Erdkunde 65(1): 3-5.
  • 2011 Zhou, Y., Y.F. Sun, Y.H.D. Wei and G.C.S. Lin. De-centering ‘Spatial Fix’—Patterns of Territorialization and Regional Technological Dynamism of ICT Hubs in China. Journal of Economic Geography 11(1): 119-150.

  • 2010 Li, Y.R. and Y.H.D. Wei. A Spatial-Temporal Analysis of Health Care and Mortality Inequalities in Transitional China. Eurasian Geography and Economics 51(6): 767 - 787.
  • 2010 Wei, Y.H.D., J. Li and Y.M. Ning. Corporate Networks, Value Chains, and Spatial Organization: A Study of the Computer Industry in China. Urban Geography 31(8): 1118-1140.
  • 2010 Li, Y.R. and Y.H.D. Wei. The Spatial-Temporal Hierarchy of Regional Inequality of China. Applied Geography 30(3): 303-316.
  • 2010 Wei, Y.H.D., J. Luo, and Q. Zhou. Location Decisions and Network Configurations of Foreign Investment in Urban China. Professional Geographer 62(2): 264-283.
  • 2010 Wei, Y.H.D. and C.L. Gu. A Study of Industrial Development and Spatial Structure in Changzhou City, China: The Restructuring of the Sunan Model. Urban Geography 31(3): 321-347.
  • 2010 Wei, Y.H.D. Beyond New Regionalism, Beyond Global Production Networks: Remaking the Sunan Model, China. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 28(1): 72-96.

  • 2009 Wei, Y.H.D. China’s Shoe Manufacturing and the Wenzhou Model: Perspectives on the World’s Leading Producer and Exporter of Footwear. Eurasian Geography and Economics 50(6): 720-739.
  • 2009 Wei, Y.H.D., Y.Q. Lu, and W. Chen. Globalizing Regional Development in Sunan, China: Does Suzhou Industrial Park Fit a Neo-Marshallian District Model? Regional Studies 43(3): 409-427.
  • 2009 Luo, J. and Y.H.D. Wei. Modeling Spatial Variations of Urban Growth Patterns in Chinese Cities: The Case of Nanjing. Landscape and Urban Planning 91(2): 51-64.
  • 2009 Wei, Y.H.D and X.Y. Ye. Beyond Convergence: Space, Scale, and Regional Inequality in China. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic andSocial Geography)100(1): 59-80.

  • 2008 Wei, Y.H.D., C.K. Leung, W.M. Li and R. Pan. Institutions, Location, and Network of Multinational Enterprises in China: A Case Study of Hangzhou. Urban Geography 29(7): 639-661.
  • 2008 He, C.F., Y.H.D. Wei and X.Z. Xie. Globalization, Institutional Change, and Industrial Location: Economic Transition and Industrial Concentration in China. Regional Studies 42(7): 923-945.
  • 2008 Yu, D.L. and Y.H.D. Wei. Spatial data analysis of regional development in Greater Beijing, China, in a GIS environment. Papers in Regional Science 87(1): 97-117.

  • 2007 Wei, Y.H.D., W.M. Li, and C.B. Wang. Restructuring Industrial Districts, Scaling Up Regional Development: A Study of the Wenzhou Model, China. Economic Geography 83(4): 421–444.
  • 2007 Yu, D.L., Y.H.D. Wei, and C.S. Wu. Modeling Spatial Dimensions of Housing Prices in Milwaukee, WI. Environment and Planning B 34(6): 1085-1102.
  • 2007 Miao, C.H., Y.H.D. Wei and H.T. Ma. Technological Learning and Innovation in China in the Context of Globalization. Eurasian Geography and Economics 48(6): 713–732.
  • 2007 He, C.F., Y.H.D. Wei, and F.H. Pan. Geographical Concentration of Manufacturing Industries in China: The Importance of Spatial and Industrial Scales. Eurasian Geography and Economics 48(5): 1-23.
  • 2007 Lu, L.C. and Y.H.D. Wei. Domesticating Globalization, New Economic Spaces, and Regional Polarization in Guangdong Province, China. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic andSocial Geography) 98(2): 225-244.
  • 2007 Wei, Y.H.D. Regional Development in China: Transitional Institutions, Embedded Globalization, and Hybrid Economies. Eurasian Geography and Economics 48(1): 16-36.

  • 2006 Wei. Y.H.D. Geographers and Globalization: The Future of Regional Geography. Environment and Planning A 38(8): 1395-1400.
  • 2006 Luo, J. and Y.H.D. Wei. Population Distribution and Spatial Structure in Transitional Chinese Cities: A Study of Nanjing. Eurasian Geography and Economics47(5): 585-603.
  • 2006 Wei, Y.H.D. and D.L. Yu. State Policy and the Globalization of Beijing: Emerging Themes. Habitat International 30(3): 377-395.
  • 2006 We, Y.H.D. and C.L. Fang. Geographical and Structural Constraints of Regional Development in Western China: A Study of Gansu Province. Issues and Studies 42(2):131-170.
  • 2006 Wei, Y.H.D., C.K. Leung, and J. Luo. Globalizing Shanghai: Foreign Investment and Urban Restructuring. Habitat International 30(2): 231-244.

  • 2005 Ye, X.Y. and Y.H.D. Wei. Geospatial Analysis of Regional Development in China: The Case of Zhejiang Province and the Wenzhou Model. Eurasian Geography and Economics 46(6): 445-464.
  • 2005 Wei, Y.H.D. Planning Chinese Cities: The Limits of Transitional Institutions. Urban Geography 26(3): 200-221.
  • 2005 Wei, Y.H.D. and C.K. Leung. Development Zones, Foreign Investment, and Global-City Formation in Shanghai. Growth and Change 36(1): 16-40.

  • 2004  Wei, Y.H.D. Trajectories of Ownership Transformation in China: Implications for Uneven Regional Development. Eurasian Geography and Economics 45(2): 90-113.
  • 2004 Wei, Y.H.D and X.Y. Ye. Regional Inequality in Provincial China: A Case Study of Zhejiang. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic and Social Geography) 95(1): 44-60.
  • 2004 Luo, J. and Y.H.D. Wei. Geostatistical Modeling of Urban Land Values in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Geographical Information Sciences 10(1): 49-57.

  • 2003 Weng, Q.H. and Y.H.D. Wei (eds.). Land Use and Land Cover Change in China. Asian Geographer 22(1-2): 1-142.
  • 2003 Yu, D.L. and Y.H.D. Wei. Analyzing Regional Inequality in China in a GIS Environment. Eurasian Geography and Economics 44(7): 514-534.
  • 2003 Wei, Y.H.D. and Y.J. Jia. The Geographical Foundations of Local State Initiatives: Globalizing Tianjin, China. Cities 20(2): 101-117.
  • 2003 Wei, Y.H.D. and C.L. Fang. Urban Expansion and Land Use Restructuring in Hangzhou, China. Asian Geographer 22(1-2): 71-85.
  • 2003 Weng, Q.H. and Y.H.D. Wei. Introduction: Land Use and Land Cover Changes in China under Reform and Globalization. Asian Geographer 22(1-2): 1-3.
  • 2003 Lu, Y.Q. and Y.H.D. Wei. The natural basis of the formation of the dual-nuclei structural model. Journal of Geographical Sciences 13(1): 85-96.

  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. and G.C.S. Lin (eds.). China’s Restless Urban Landscapes II. Environment and Planning A 34(10): 1721-1831.
  • 2002 Lin, G.C.S. and Y.H.D. Wei (eds.). China’s Restless Urban Landscapes I. Environment and Planning A 34(9): 1535-1660.
  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. Beyond the Sunan Model: Trajectory and Underlying Factors of Development in Kunshan, China. Environment and Planning A  34(10): 1725-1747.
  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. and G.C.S. Lin. China's Restless Urban Landscapes 2: Socialist State, Globalization, and Urban Change. Environment and Planning A 34(10): 1721-1724.
  • 2002 Lin, G.C.S. and Y.H.D. Wei. China's Restless Urban Landscapes 1: New Challenges for Theoretical Reconstruction. Environment and Planning A 34(9): 1535-1544.
  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. and W.M. Li. Reforms, Globalization, and Urban Growth in China: The Case of Hangzhou. Eurasian Geography and Economics 43(6): 459-475.
  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. and S. Kim.  Widening Intercounty Inequality in Jiangsu Province, China, 1950-1995. Journal of Development Studies 38(6): 142-164.
  • 2002 Wei, Y.H.D. Multiscale and Multimechanisms of Regional Inequality in China. Journal of Contemporary China 11(30): 109-124.
  • 2002 Huang, R.H. and Y.H.D. Wei. Analyzing Neighborhood Accessibility via Transit in a GIS Environment. Geographic Information Sciences 8(1): 39-47.


  • 2001 Wei, Y.H.D. Decentralization, Marketization, and Globalization: The Triple Processes Underlying Regional Development in China. Asian Geographer 20(1-2): 7-23.
  • 2001 Wei, Y.H.D. Investment and Regional Development in Post-Mao China. GeoJournal 51: 169-179.

  • 2000 Wei, Y.H.D. Regional Development in China: States, Globalization, and Inequality. London and New York: Routledge.
  • 2000 Wei, Y.H.D and C.C. Fan. Regional Inequality in China: A Case Study of Jiangsu Province. Professional Geographer 52(3): 455-69.
  • 2000 Wei, Y.H.D. Fiscal System, Investment, and Regional Development in Jiangsu Province. Issues and Studies 36(2): 73-98.

  • 1999 Wei, Y.H.D. Regional Inequality in China. Progress in Human Geography 23(1): 49-59.
  • 1999 Wei, Y.H.D. Change in Industrial Ownership Structure in China. Geography 84(3): 193-203.

  • 1998 Wei, Y.H. Economic Reforms and Regional Development in Coastal China.  Journal of Contemporary Asia 28(4): 498-517.
  • 1998 Wei, Y.H. Regional Inequality of Industrial Output in China, 1952-90. Geografiska Annaler B 80(1): 1-15.

  • 1997 Ma, L.J.C. and Y.H. Wei. Determinants of State Investment in China, 1953-1990. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic and Social Geography) 88(3): 211-225.
  • 1997 Wei, Y.H. Interregional Migration in Transitional Socialist Countries: The Case of China. GeoJournal 41(3): 205-14.
  • 1997 Wei, Y.H. State Policy and Urban Systems: The Case of China. Journal of Chinese Geography 7(1): 1-10.

  • 1996 Wei, Y.H. Fiscal Systems and Uneven Regional Development in China, 1978-1991. Geoforum 27(3): 329-344.
  • 1996 Wei, Y.H. and L.J.C. Ma. Changing Patterns of Spatial Inequality in China, 1952-1990. Third World Planning Review 18(2): 177-191.

  • 1995 Wei, Y.H. Spatial and Temporal Variations of the Relationship between State Investment and Industrial Output in China. Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie (Journal of Economic and Social Geography) 86(2): 129-136.
  • 1995 Wei, Y.H. Large Chinese Cities: A Review and a Research Agenda. Asian Geographer 14(1): 1-13.
  • 1995 Wei, Y.H. and A.K. Dutt. Spatial Patterns of Sectoral Shifts in China. Asian Profile 23(4):  273-288.

  • 1994 Wei, Y.H. Urban Policy, Economic Policy, and the Growth of Large Cities in China. Habitat International 18(4): 53-65.

  • 1993 Wei, Y.H. A Test for 'the Entry Mode Choice' in the Joint Ventures of the People's Republic of China. International Journal of Management 10(3): 288-293.
  • 1993 Wei, Y.H. Urban Land Use Transformation and Determinants of Urban Land Use Size in China. GeoJournal 30(4): 435-440.

  • 1992 Wei, Y.H. and A.K. Dutt. Distribution of Medical Facilities in the People's Republic of China with Particular Reference to Rural Areas. Indian Geographical Journal 67(1): 9-19.


BUS 3480 Geography of China

Even with the global economic crisis, China and its Asian neighbors remain the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world. China is officially a socialist country with a significant legacy of a centralized, command economy. But it is also a market economy undergoing globalization and market transition. Understanding such a culturally rich, socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics, and doing business in china are challenging tasks. This course aims at a better understanding of China’s business and economic geography and development, emphasizing diverse business/development models in China, human/economic geographical patterns, and linkage between China and Asian/global business networks. Topics include resources, population and society, administration/governance, economic reforms, economic and business environment, globalizing cities, regions and business models, and China’s integration into the global economy.

GEOG3640 Geography of China and Asia

A comprehensive study of the important population, development, and environmental issues in China and Asia, with a focus on the reform process and rising tensions in China and China’s geopolitical and geo-economical relations with its neighbors.

GEOG 3480 Urban Geography

Meets with GEOG 5480. Graduate students should enroll in GEOG 5480 and will be held to higher standards and/or more work. A broad overview of concepts in issues in urban geography, including the origins and development of cities, evolution or urban systems, global cities, urban economic devleopment, migration, urban land use, housing, neighborhood transition, and urban policies. Urban landscapes are expressions of economic, political, and social processes layered on top of each other in particular time-space contexts. In this course, students will gain both theoretical and empirical understanding of these processes that have shaped and continue to shape cities around the world.

GEOG 6520/5520 Economic Geography, Location and Development

GEOG 6960 Seminar in Economic Geography

This course focuses on economic geography and urban/regional development theories, including economic geography perspectives, globalization, institutions, regional development, global cities, urban development, and planning.

GEOG 6960 Seminar in Urban Geography

This course provides a broad overview of important work in urban geography and urban studies; it focuses on urban and development theory and policy, including globalization and cities, urban systems, urban economic development, housing and urban land use, migration and urbanization, neighborhood transition, and spatial structure.

PUBPL 6900 Public Policy Research

Interpretation and synthesis of published research materials for the purposes of guiding public policy. Emphasis placed on critiquing the research designs and statistical approaches used in light of the public policy questions being addressed. Examples are drawn from a range of policy areas.

Last Updated: 5/29/20