Research Spotlight: Junshan Liu

Junshan Liu

Aderholdt Associate Professor Junshan Liu’s research agenda focuses on the use of technology to interpret and digitally preserve historic structures.

While teaching at both undergraduate and graduate levels in areas of construction information technology, structures and safety, Liu innovates both inside and outside of the classroom, preserving history and bringing it to life.

Inspired by his exploration of digital preservation technology through a National Park Service (NPS) funded Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) project for the Edmund Pettus Bridge, a project in collaboration with former Auburn colleague Danielle Willkens, Liu’s research pushes the boundaries of cutting-edge tech. His work on Walking in the Footsteps of History, a body of research centered on the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” civil rights event in Selma, Alabama, brings the event to life for participants, offering photos, videos, interactive kiosks, a 3D model and virtual reality experience. This creative use of preservation technology not only functionally preserves these environments but creates a narrative through which participants can more effectively engage with history.

Liu is also committed to digitally preserving the almost 400 Rosenwald schools, schools built across the south between 1914 and 1932 to further the education of African American children. This commitment has recently expanded to include emergency stabilization and physical rehabilitation of Tankersley Rosenwald School in Hope Hull, Alabama, a project funded by NPS that will preserve the school and its history for the community and its future generations. Liu is working with an interdisciplinary team on the project including Gorham Bird (architecture), Hunter McGonagill (building science), Keith Hébert (public history), Elijah Gaddis (public history) and Danielle Willkens at Georgia Tech (architecture).

The Edmund Pettus Bridge, which crosses the Alabama River into Selma, Alabama, is a National Historic Landmark in need of further documentation for the Historic American Engineering Record. Liu is involved in the production of an Historic Structures Report for the bridge, a much-needed task that will expand the documentation for the bridge for the Historic American Engineering Record.

Liu is currently also engaged in a doctoral program in architecture at Georgia Tech. His dissertation research is focused on guidelines for incorporating laser scanning as a component of HABS heritage documentation. The standards, as they exist now, lack updates reflecting modern technology techniques used for preservation and documentation.

In addition to his doctoral program research and numerous other research endeavors, Liu remains committed to creating novel approaches to teaching and instruction for his undergraduate and graduate students. His new course, ‘Digital Reality Capture for the Built Environment,’ allows students to learn about the incorporation of drone usage, laser scanning, and virtual tour technologies for heritage and new construction environments, bringing his scholarly pursuits full circle as he transmits his extensive knowledge and expertise to his classrooms of students.