Kaiyu’s research focused on the interactions between hydrological cycles and vegetation dynamics in Africa, with specific interests on tropical ecosystems, including tropical savanna and tropical forests. He uses land surface models (VIC and SEIB) and environmental sensing technology (satellite, unmanned aerial vehicle-based sensing systems and field spectometer) to address those science questions.

He defended his PhD thesis in September 2013. After a postdoc with Prof. David Lobell at Stanford University, he is now an assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.