Small is big: Toward a molecular scale understanding of element (re)cycling

EAS Fall 2018 Seminar Series Presents: Dr. Yuanzhi Tang

Small is big: Toward a molecular scale understanding of element (re)cycling

In the natural environment, the fate and transport of contaminants, nutrients, and metals are intimately linked to our daily life, thus significantly influencing the sustainable development of human society. 

Biogeochemical reactions have also been widely recognized as critical components for sustainable agriculture, wastewater treatment, as well as the evolution of Earth’s solid surface and atmosphere. Yet, in our long march trying to understand the biogeochemical cycles of elements among geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere, one of the biggest challenge is to bridge the measurements and interpretations at different spatial and temporal scales. 

Particularly, in geochemistry, one fundamental knowledge gap is to correlate the molecular scale speciation (defined as the physical and chemical states of an element) with larger scale reactivity (such as mobility and bioavailability). Over the past five years, my research group has focused on revealing such speciation-reactivity correlations at mineral-microbe-metal interfaces, such as those related to microbially impacted mineral formation and transformation (e.g. biomineralization and bioweathering), contaminant transport (e.g. remediation and long term stability), and metal/nutrient cycling and recycling (e.g. resource recovery). 

In order to isolate, quantify, and integrate the fundamental mineralogical and biogeochemical factors influencing these processes, we conduct multidisciplinary investigations spanning macro-, micro-, nano-, and molecule-scales and across multiple fields. 

In this talk, a few examples will be given to demonstrate our research efforts on metal/nutrient cycling and recycling, as well as the importance of understanding molecular scale interfacial processes. 

Event Details


  • Thursday, September 20, 2018
    11:00 am - 11:50 am
Location: Ford Environmental, Science & Technology (ES&T) Building, Rm. L1205
Fee(s): Free

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  • Yuanzhi Tang

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Natasha Lawson