Yong-Guan Zhu, the Director General of the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)

Prof. Yongguan Zhu, Professor of Environmental Biology, is the Director General of the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). He has been working on the biogeochemistry of nutrients, metals and emerging pollutants (such as antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes). Professor Zhu is a leader in taking multi-scale and multi-disciplinary approaches to soil and environmental problems. Before returning to China in 2002, he was working as a research fellow (Supported by the Royal Society London), the Queen's University of Belfast, UK (1994-1995); and a postdoctoral fellow in The University of Adelaide (1998-2002), Australia. He obtained his BSc from Zhejiang Agricultural University in 1989, and MSc from CAS in 1992, and then a PhD in environmental biology from Imperial College, London in 1998. Dr Zhu is currently the co-editor-in-chief of Environmental Technology & Innovation (Elsevier), associate editor of Environment International (Elsevier), and editorial members for a few other international journals. He is a scientific committee member for the ICSU program on Human Health and Wellbeing in Changing Urban Environment, and served for nine years as a member of Standing Advisory Group for Nuclear Application, International Atomic Energy Agency (2004-2012). Professor Zhu is the recipient of many international and Chinese merit awards, among them including TWAS Science Award 2013, National Natural Science Award 2009; Professor Zhu has published over 255 papers in international journals, and these publications have attracted over 10,000 citations (Web of Science) with an H-index of 56.

Telephone: 086-592-6190997
Mobile phone:  086-592-13806072815

Address:  1799 Jimei Road, Xiamen, China
Postcode:  361021

Research Areas

Environmental chemistry; Biogeochemistry; Environmental Microorganisms


  • July 1989: BSc. in soil science and plant nutrition from Zhejiang (Agricultural) University, Hangzhou, P. R. China.
  • July 1992: MSc in soils and environmental chemistry, the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P. R. China.
  • June 1998: PhD in environmental science from the University of London (Imperial College), UK.
  • June 1998: Diploma of Imperial College (DIC), UK.


Work Experience
  • Dec 2009-present: Director General, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences;

  • October 2007-Dec 2009: Deputy Director General, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences; and from September 2007, Visiting professor, The University of Adelaide, Australia;

  • January 2002-October 2007: Head, Department of Soil Environmental Science, Research Centre for Eco-environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (recruited through the “Outstanding Overseas Young Chinese” scheme);

  • June 1998-December 2001: Research fellow, Department of Soil and Water, The University of Adelaide;

  • March 1994-March 1995: Royal Society Research Fellow, Departments of Agricultural and Environmental Science, and Applied Plant Sciences, The Queen's University of Belfast, UK;

  • May 1992-March 1994: Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Plant Nutrition and Molecular Biology, the Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Teaching Experience

Teaching in Univerisity of Chinese Academy of Sciences, including:

Soil pollution and remediation;



Honors & Distinctions

  • January 1994, Royal Fellowship Award from The Royal Society, London;  

  • April 1998, Best presentation award and the postgraduate student of the year 1998 from the Institution of Nuclear Engineers, UK;

  • October 2002, National outstanding young scientist award from the National Natural Science Foundation of China;

  • September 2003, Achievement award from the state government of China for overseas returnees;

  • July 2006, National Young Scientist Award, Chinese Association of Science & Technology (CAST);

  • May 2007, “Top Ten Youth”, Chinese Academy of Sciences;

  • Dec 2008, Beijing Science and Technology Award;

  • Dec 2009, National Natural Science Award, Chinese State Government;

  • Jan 2011, Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS);

  • October 2012, Young Scientist Award (environmental science), SCOPE;

  • Feb 2013, Special Allowance of the Chinese State Council for Distinguished Experts;

  • March 2013, China National Leading Talents (equivalent to national chair professor);

  • July 2013, ranked 89 worldwide in Essential Science Indicators (category: Environment/Ecology), ISI Web of Knowledge (accessed 3 July 2013);

  • August 2013, Named "Outstanding Talent", Fujian province (elected every three years for the whole province), China

  • September 2013, nominated for Tyler Prize

  • October 2013, TWAS (The World Academy of Science for the advancement of science in the developing countries) Prize in Agricultural Sciences



1. Biogeochemistry of trace elements: environmental protection, remediation and human health. Tsinghua University Press, Beijing China, 2007 (eds YG Zhu, N Lepp, R Naidu)

2. Environmental Soil Science, Science Press, Beijing China, 2011 (Deputy Editor-in-Chief)

3. Arsenic in agricultural environment and potential human health risk, Science Press, Beijing China 2013 (First author, together with students and postdocs)

Selected International peer reviewed journal papers

Over 260 papers on soil and environmental sciences

Total citation >10000, with anH-indexof 56 in Web of Science (07/05/2016).

(1) G. L. Duan, Y. Hu, S. Schneider, J.Mc. Dermott, J. Chen, N. Sauer, B.P. Rosen, B.Daus, Z.J. Liu*, and Y.G. Zhu*, Inositol transporters AtINT2 and AtINT4 regulatearsenic accumulation in Arabidopsis seeds,Nature Plants2, 15202 (2015).

(2) Y.G. Zhu, T. A. Johnson, J.Q.Su, M. Qiao, G.X. Guo, R. D. Stedtfeld, S. A. Hashsham,and J. M.Tiedje*, Diverse and abundant antibiotic resistance genes in Chinese swinefarms.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of

America110 (9), 3435-3440 (2013).

(3) S.Cui, Y.Shi, P. M.Groffman, W. H. Schlesinger, and Y.G. Zhu* , Centennial-scaleanalysis of the creation and fate of reactive nitrogen in China (1910-2010).Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America110 (6), 2052-2057(2013).

(4) S.A. Nie, H. Li, X.R. Yang, Z.J. Zhang, B.S. Weng, F.Y. Huang, G.B. Zhu, and Y.G. Zhu*. Nitrogen loss by anaerobic oxidation ammonium in rice rhizosphere.ISME Journal9,2059–2067 (2015).

(5) L.J. Ding, J.Q. Su, H.J. Xu, Z.J. Jia, and Y.G. Zhu*, Long-term nitrogen fertilization ofpaddy soil shifts iron-reducing microbial community revealed by RNA-C-13-acetateprobing coupled with pyrosequencing,The ISME Journal9, 721–734(2015)

(6) J.Q. Su, L.J. Ding, K. Xue, H.Y. Yao, J. Quensen, S.J. Bai, W.X. Wei, J.S. Wu, J.Z. Zhou, J.M. Tiedje, and Y.G. Zhu*, Long-term balanced fertilization increases the soilmicrobial functional diversity in a phosphorus-limited paddy soil,Molecular Ecology24(1),136-1502015

(7) L.J. Ding, X.L. An, S. Li, G.L. Zhang, and Y.G. Zhu*, Nitrogen loss through anaerobic ammonium oxidation coupled to iron reduction from paddy soils in a chronosequence,Environmental Science & Technology48, 10641−106472014

(8)Ye, J.; Rensing, C.; Rosen, B. P.; Zhu, Y. G., Arsenic biomethylation by photosynthetic organisms. Trends in Plant Science ​ 17, (3), 155-162 (2012).

Research Interests

Environmental arsenic contamination and remediation; environmental microbiology and biotechnology; Plant ecology and nutrition; Antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs)


Invited talks at major international conferences

1.      Zhu YG, Kong WD, Chen BD, Nan ZB, Christie P. Soil microbial community: understanding the belowground network for sustainable grassland management. 26 June-1 July 2005, XX International Grassland Congress, Dublin, Ireland

2.      Zhu YG. Manipulating rhizosphere processes to minimize the risks associated with soil pollution. 26 August-1 September 2007, Rhizosphere 2 International Conference, Montpellier, France

3.      Zhu YG. Arsenic dynamics in the rhizosphere of wetland plants: Redox gradients and microbial processes. 26-27 June 2008, 20th New Phytologist Symposium, Aberdeen, UK

4.      Zhu YG. Iron dynamics in the rhizosphere of wetland plants: Coupling of microbial and chemical processes. 14th International Symposium on Iron Nutrition and Interactions in Plants. September 11-15 October 2008, Beijing China

5.      Zhu YG. Policies of risk assessment and risk management of agri-food in China:
Research experiences and perspectives for heavy metals. International Symposium on “Strategies for Technology Development for Ensuring Agro-Food Safety”, 7-10 July,
2009, Korea

6.      Zhu YG. Biogeochemical processes of arsenic in paddy soil. International Symposium of Molecular Environmental Soil Science at the Interfaces in the Earth’s Critical Zone. 10-14 October 2009, Hangzhou, China

7.      Zhu YG. Managing arsenic in paddy soils to reduce human exposure to arsenic in rice. 17-21 May 2010, The Third International Congress on Arsenic in the Environment, Taiwan

8.      Zhu YG. Urbanization in China: Problems and perspectives. 20-23 June 2010, International Urban Environmental Pollution Conference (UEP2010

9.      Zhu YG. Reducing arsenic concentrations in rice. 8-9 July 2010, AquaTrain Final Conference, Orleans, France

10.  Zhu YG. Microbe-plant interactions and transformations of arsenic and selenium in soils. 10-15 July 2011, Gordon Research Conference on Applied and Environmental Microbiology, South Hadley, MA, USA

11.  Zhu YG. The role of silicon in mitigating arsenic accumulation in rice plant. The 5th International Conference on Silicon in Agriculture, 13-17 September 2011, Beijing, China

12.  Zhu YG. Mending the broken biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and phosphorus at the urban-rural interface. International Urban Environmental Pollution Conference, (UEP2012), 17-20 June 2012, Amsterdam, Netherlands

13.  Zhu YG. Arsenic in soil-rice systems Microbial ecology perspectives. The 4th International Congress on Arsenic in the Environment22-27 July 2012, Cairns, Australia

14.  Zhu YG. Agricultural and environmental benefit of biochar. Sino-German Symposium on Biochar in Agriculture. 14-19 April 2013, Trier, Germany

15.  Zhu YG. Future earth in an urbanized China. International Workshop on Future Earth in China, 26-27 September, Beijing, China


International conference chairs


1. International Workshop on Soil-Plant Interactions, 28-30 October, Beijing China

2. 3rd Conference on Soil Contamination in Australiasian-Pacific Region (SCRAP), 16-20 November 2003, Beijing China

3. 9th International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements, 16-19 July 2007, Beijing China

4. International Workshop on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotics Resistance, 5-8 December, 2013, Xiamen China


Pro. Yong-Guan Zhu has tight collaboration with scientists from United States, UK, France, Norway, Japan, Korea, and has obtained productive output in publications and coadjutant fundings.



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