Shaolei Ren

Responsible AI for building a sustainable and equitable future



I am an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, where I am also a cooperating faculty member in the Computer Science and Engineering department. My research broadly focuses on responsible AI for building a sustainable and equitable future. More concretely, I am interested in two complementary directions: (1) developing foundational algorithms and empirical methodologies to make networked AI/computing systems more sustainable and equitable; and (2) leveraging AI and computational techniques to make our networked society more sustainable and equitable. I received the 2015 NSF CAREER award and Best Paper awards from multiple conferences (including the ACM e-Energy’16, the flagship conference of the ACM SIG on Energy Systems and Informatics) for my research on computational sustainability.

My research on socially and environmentally responsible AI has pushed forward the field and generated broader societal impacts in various ways, including:

To prospective students: I have multiple openings available for graduate students with full financial support (in either ECE or CSE department). Students with interests in AI + sustainability, networks, optimization, machine learning, or other relevant areas are welcome to contact me.


We have three papers accepted by ACM e-Energy'24: One paper on environmentally equitable AI, one paper on sustainable federated learning, and one paper on our new water efficiency dataset (to be released soon) to accelerate research on water sustainability! The camera-ready versions will be published soon.
I'm glad to share two recent papers on responsible AI. (1) "Online Allocation with Replenishable Budgets: Worst Case and Beyond" accepted by SIGMETRICS'24! This paper studies online allocation with replenishable budgets, a classic versatile model with many applications including sustainable AI powered by renewables. It proposes the first competitive algorithm with robustness guarantees and the first learning-augmented algorithm for average performance improvement. (2) "ArchLock: Locking DNN Transferability at the Architecture Level with a Zero-Cost Binary Predictor" accepted by ICLR'24! This paper designs novel neural architectures to mitigate AI model misuse.
My invited article "How much water does AI consume?" was featured by the OECD AI Policy Observatory to mark its participation in the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28); my invited standpoint article "Water is the New CO2" was published at AlgorithmWatch's SustAIn Magazine.
I attended the NSF Computer Systems Research PI meeting and gave an invited talk on my research "Towards Environmentally Sutainable and Equitable Computing" at the panel on Sustainable Computing.
I received two new grants as PI from the NSF Design for Environmental Sustainability in Computing (DESC) program: (1) A new user-in-the-loop approach to water-sustainable computing (in collaboration with Mohammad A. Islam from UT Arlington); and (2) A market-driven approach to designing sustainable multi-tenant data centers (with co-PI Daniel Wong).

recent highlights

    Jianyi Yang, Pengfei Li, Mohammad J. Islam, and Shaolei Ren
    SIGMETRICS, 2024
  2. arXiv
    Pengfei Li, Jianyi Yang, Mohammad A. Islam, and Shaolei Ren
    arXiv, 2023
  3. e-Energy
    Pengfei Li, Jianyi Yang, Adam Wierman, and Shaolei Ren
    e-Energy, 2024
  4. NeurIPS
    Jianyi Yang, Pengfei Li, Tongxin Li, Adam Wierman, and Shaolei Ren
    NeurIPS, 2023
  5. NeurIPS
    Pengfei Li, Jianyi Yang, Adam Wierman, and Shaolei Ren
    NeurIPS, 2023
    Nuntipat Narkthong, Shijin Duan, Shaolei Ren, and Xiaolin Xu
    ASPLOS, 2024
  7. ICML
    Pengfei Li, Jianyi Yang, and Shaolei Ren
    ICML, 2023
    Pengfei Li, Jianyi Yang, and Shaolei Ren
    SIGMETRICS, 2022
    Bingqian Lu, Jianyi Yang, Weiwen Jiang, Yiyu Shi, and Shaolei Ren
    SIGMETRICS, 2022

societal impacts

Research plays a critical role in the advancement of society. Our research pushes forward the boundaries of the existing literature by uncovering and addressing water sustainability and environmental equity in networked AI/computing systems. In addition, our research on AI sustainability and equity has extended well beyond academic publications and generated broader societal impacts in various ways. It advances holistic awareness and understanding of sustainability and equity among the public, through coverage by ~1,000 major news outlets in ~100 countries, including The Associated Press (also republished in ABC News, Fortune, The Hill, etc.), The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, CBS News, Bloomberg, Fox News, CBC, Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, New Scientist, Newsweek and The Atlantic, among many others. See the societal impact page for more.

Our research has also been cited/featured by international organizations and government agencies, including United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, Nature Briefing, The U.S. National AI Advisory Committee (in the statement "Rationales, Mechanisms, and Challenges to Regulating AI"), Global Water Forum, The Rockefeller Foundation, AI Now Institute, The State University of New York (SUNY), Rathenau Instituut in The Netherlands, Green Software Foundation, UW Health Sciences Library, The Living Library at NYU, Montreal AI Ethics Institute, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Johns Hopkins SAIS Perspectives, Forbrukerradet (Consumer Council, a Norwegian government agency), H2O Radio, TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Institution of Turkey), Algorithmen furs Gemeinwohl (Algorithms for the Common Good) in Germany, and UTS Human Technology Institute in Australia, among others.


08/2008 -- 07/2012
University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering
Advisor: Mihaela van der Schaar (now with the University of Cambridge)
09/2006 -- 08/2008
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
M.Phil. in Electronic and Computer Engineering
Advisor: Khaled B. Letaief
09/2002 -- 07/2006
Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
B.E. in Electronics and Information Engineering


07/2015 -- Present
University of California, Riverside
Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Cooperating Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering
Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (07/2015--06/2019)
08/2012 -- 06/2015
Florida International University
Assistant Professor of Computing and Information Sciences

professional services

I frequently serve on the technical program committee of ACM SIGMETRICS, ACM e-Energy, and major AI conferences such as NeurIPS and ICML. I am/was an associate editor of ACM Transactions on Modeling and Performance Evaluation of Computing Systems, IEEE Systems Journal, and IEEE Transactions on Green Communications and Networking. I have also served as a guest editor for special issues in IEEE Transactions on Sustainable Computing and Performance Evaluation.


Shaolei Ren
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA 92521, United States

Office: Winston Chung Hall 319
Phone: 951-827-2260