Wenfei Xu

Wenfei Xu's research questions how housing policies, practices, institutions, and technologies have shaped urban inequality, with an orientation towards methods in urban analytics. She works on topics in social-spatial stratification, segregation, race and ethnicity, data science, mapping, and neighborhood change in the United States. Her work has ranged from an interest in the historical legacies of structural housing discrimination and its contemporary spatial-temporal manifestations to exploring the uses of big data in characterizing human activity for urban social science research.

Xu received her Ph.D. in urban planning from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, a Dual Masters in architecture and urban planning from MIT's Department of Architecture and Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and a Bachelor's of Arts in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Academic Research/Specialty Areas

  • Housing
  • Planning history
  • Mapping
  • Neighborhood change
  • Segregation
  • Urban data science

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Awards, Grants, and Fellowships (Selected)

  • Winner, IPUMS Annual Research Awards, Best Published Work in Spatial Data (2022)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Mansueto Institute and Center for Spatial Data Science (2021)
  • Small Research Grant on Racial Justice, American Association of Geographers Digital Geographies Specialty Group (2021)

Exhibitions and Presentations (Selected)

  • "The Contingency of Neighborhood Diversity: Variation of Social Context Using Mobile Phone Location Data", Spatial Analysis + Data Seminar Series, Newcastle University, University of Bristol and The Alan Turing Institute (2022)
  • "Regional Heterogeneity and the Uneven Distribution of Advantage in Historical Federal Mortgage Insurance Outcomes", Urban Affairs Association, Washington, D.C. (2022)

Publications (Selected)

  • Xu, Wenfei. "Legacies of Institutionalized Redlining: A Comparison Between Speculative and Implemented Mortgage Risk Maps in Chicago, Illinois." Housing Policy Debate 32, no. 2 (2022), 249–274.
  • Xu, Wenfei. "The contingency of neighbourhood diversity: Variation of social context using mobile phone application data." Urban Studies 59, no. 4 (2021), 851–869.
  • Kang, Wei, Taylor Oshan, Levi J. Wolf, Geoff Boeing, Vanessa Frias-Martinez, Song Gao, Ate Poorthuis, and Wenfei Xu. "A roundtable discussion: Defining urban data science." Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science 46, no. 9 (2019), 1756–1768.
  • Williams, Sarah, Wenfei Xu, Shin B. Tan, Michael J. Foster, and Changping Chen. "Ghost cities of China: Identifying urban vacancy through social media data." Cities 94 (2019), 275–285.
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