Zhen Lei

Directory Info

Zhen Lei

Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics

125 Hosler Building


Biographical Sketch: 

Zhen Lei is currently an Associate Professor of Energy and Environmental Economics.  He has expertise in both economics and the natural sciences, holding a Ph.D. degree in Economics and a Ph.D. degree in Chemistry. His research interests include technology and science and policy economics, economics of innovation, intellectual property policy and entrepreneurship, energy and environmental economics, big data and data mining, industrial organization, development economics, and applied econometrics.

Educational Background: 

Ph.D. (Agricultural and Resource Economics), University of California at Berkeley, 2009
Ph.D. (Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences), Peking University Health Sciences Center, 2000
M.S. (Organic Chemistry), Chinese Academy of Sciences, 1997
B.S. (Chemistry), Wuhan University, 1993

Research Interests: 
  • Technology and Science Policy
  • Economics of Innovation, Intellectual Property Policy and Entrepreneurship
  • Energy and Environmental Economics and Policy
  • Big Data and Data Mining
  • Applied Economics
Active Research Projects: 

Dr. Lei’s research program has three major themes: (1) technology and innovation policy, and intellectual property rights; (2) energy and environmental economics and policy; and (3) big data and data mining. The geographic focus is the U.S. and China, the two largest economies, energy consumers and carbon emitters in the world. One is a technological leader; the other is striving to catch up in technology innovation.

His first research line has focused on how government policies and institutions impact innovation; the second has investigated not only innovation and patenting but also incentives, strategies and policy responses of firms in industries related to energy, the environment and critical materials; and the third has applied techniques in big data sciences, in particular data mining and information retrieval tools, to measure and quantify innovation activities and knowledge flows.

Zhen Lei has published papers in top journals including Nature and Nature Biotechnology, and in premier data mining conferences. His research has been supported by research grants from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  

Selected Publications: 
  1. Zhen Lei and Anastasia V. Shcherbakova, “Revealing Climate Change Opinions Through Investment Behavior: Evidence from Fukushima,” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, 2015, 70, 92-108.
  2. Shuting Wang, Zhen Lei and Wang-Chien Lee, “Exploring Legal Patent Citations for Patent Valuation,” The ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2014), 1379-1388,Shanghai, China, November 2014.
  3. Shuting Wang, Wang-Chien Lee, Zhen Lei, Xianliang Zhang and Yu-Hsuan Kuo, “Exploring Technological Trends for Patent Evaluation,” The 2014 International Conference on Data Science and Advanced Analytics (DSAA 2014), Shanghai, China, October 2014.
  4. Drivas, Kyriakos, Zhen Lei, Steve Merrill and Brian D. Wright, “Technology Transfer: Industry-funded Academic Inventions Boost Innovation,” Nature, 2014, 507, 297-299.
  5. Oh, Sooyoung, Zhen Lei, Wang-Chien Lee, and John Yen. “Patent Evaluation Based on Technological Trajectory Revealed in Relevant Prior Patents,” The 18th Pacific-Asia Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (PAKDD 2014), Tainan, Taiwan, May 13-16, 2014.
  6. Oh, Sooyoung, Zhen Lei, Wang-Chien Lee, Prasenjit Mitra and John Yen. “CV-PCR: A Context-Guided Value-Driven Framework for Patent Citation Recommendation,” ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM 2013), San Francisco, CA, U.S.A., Oct. 2013.
  7. Graff, Gregory D., Devon Phillips, Zhen Lei, Sooyoung Oh, Carol Nottenburg, and Philip G. Pardey. “Not Quite a Myriad of Gene Patents: Assessing the Potential Impact of the U.S. Supreme Court on the Changing Landscape of U.S. Patents that Claim Nucleic Acids,” Nature Biotechnology, 2013, 31(5), 404-410.
  8. Daniel R. Cahoy, Joel Gehman and Zhen Lei, “Fracking Patents: The Emergence of Patents as Information Containment Tools in Shale Drilling,” Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review, 2013, 19(2), 279-330.
  9. Sooyoung Oh, Zhen Lei, Prasenjit Mitra and John Yen, “Evaluating and Ranking Patents Using Weighted Citations,” in Proceedings of The ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL 2012), 281-284, Washington D.C., U.S.A., 2012.
  10. Zhen Lei, Rakhi Juneja and Brian Wright, “Patents vs. Patenting: Implications of Intellectual Property Protection for Biological Research”, Nature Biotechnology, 2009, 27(1), 36-40.

EBF 200 – Introduction to Energy and Earth Sciences Economics (3)
EBF 401 – Strategic Corporate Finance for the Earth, Energy, and Materials Industries (3)
EBF 484 – Energy Economics (3)
ENNEC 560 – Technology, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights (3)