Co-Founder & President, Aspiring Universe Corporation

Dr. Kaiyu Guan is an innovator creating science- and artificial intelligence-based solutions to ensure sustainability of food security and the environment. He founded Aspiring Universe Corporation, to build on his groundbreaking academic research and bring environmental solutions to the marketplace. Aspiring Universe uses remote sensing (satellite, airborne and other data streams), process models and artificial intelligence to evaluate past, current and future farmland performance, including crop rotation, management history, yield, water use, nutrient dynamics, and carbon emission and sequestration. The combination of first-in-class science with leading-edge technology allows unprecedented accuracy at scale, and the bottom-up method can be aggregated across any global region, producing critical insights for businesses throughout the agriculture value chain. A spinout of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the company has been funded by the USDA, NSF and DOE, and counts Fortune 500 companies among its customers. Aspiring Universe is honored to be the awardee of the 2020 OCP-Larta Innovation Challenge and the Edwin Moore Family Agricultural Innovation Prize.  

In addition to his role at Aspiring Universe, Guan is the Blue Waters Associate Professor in ecohydrology and remote sensing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research group uses satellite data, computational models, fieldwork, and machine learning approaches to address how climate and human practices affect crop productivity, water resource availability and ecosystem functioning. His group has keen interests in solving real-life problems, such as large-scale crop monitoring and forecasting, water management and sustainability, and global food security. Guan has published 100+ papers in leading scientific journals, including Science, Nature, Global Change Biology, etc. Guan leads 15+ major federal research projects funded by NASA, DOE, NSF and USDA.