Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

Wei Zhang

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Interim Department Chair and Associate Professor - Environmental and Soil Physics
Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences



B.S., Nanjing University, Environmental Chemistry, 2000
M.S., Oklahoma State University, Biosystems Engineering, 2006
Ph.D., Cornell University, Environmental Engineering, 2010

Short Description of Program:

Explore environmental processes and impacts of emerging contaminants in soil, water and plant systems in a changing environment by integrating environmental soil physics, chemistry and biology, improve understanding of emerging issues (such as antibiotic resistance and engineered nanomaterials) in agroecosystems, and contribute to applied solutions for ensuring clean, safe and healthy soil, water and food.

Overview of current program:

The Soil and Water Research Lab at MSU is dedicated to fundamental and applied research that will help the society successfully safeguard and responsibly utilize soil and water resources.  Current research activities are mainly focused on environmental processes and impacts of water, solutes, and particles in natural and engineered systems, particularly in the unsaturated soils  (i.e., the vadose zone). The ultimate goal of the lab's research is to promote protection of soil and water resources and sustainable agricultural production through understanding of fundamental transport processes and scientifically-sound management practices.

Experience and Accomplishments:

Professional Experience:

  • Interim Chairperson Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences July 2024 - present
  • Associate Professor Michigan State University 2018 - present.
  • Assistant Professor Michigan State University 2012 - 2018.
  • NRC Research Associate US Environmental Protection Agency 2010 - 2011.
  • Research Assistant Cornell University 2006 - 2010.
  • Research Assistant Oklahoma State University 2004 - 2006.
  • Assistant Engineer Shanghai Research Institute of Petrochemical Technology 2000 -2004.

Professional Affiliation & Honor Societies:

  • American Geophysical Union (AGU).
  • American Chemical Society (ACS).
  • Soil Science Society of America (SSSA).
  • American Society of Agronomy (ASA).
  • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE).
  • European Geosciences Union.
  • Association of Overseas Chinese Agricultural, Biological, and Food Engineers (AOCABFE).
  • Alpha Epsilon.
  • Phi Kappa Phi.
  • Gamma Sigma Delta. 

Honors & Awards:

  • MSU Academy for Global Engagement Fellowship, 2015.
  • USDA-NIFA/AFRI New Investigator Award, 2013.
  • Research Associateship Award, US. National Research Council, 2010–2011.
  • Graduate Leadership and Service Award, AOCABFE, June 2009.
  • Certificate of Recognition for “outstanding services”, AOCABFE, June 2009.
  • Liu Memorial Award, Cornell University, May 2009.
  • Graduate Research Assistantship, Cornell University, July 2006 – June, 2010.
  • Graduate Research Assistantship, Oklahoma State University, June 2004 – July 2006.
  • Excellent graduate, Nanjing University, 2000.
  • Excellent Senior Thesis, Nanjing University, 2000.
  • People’s merit scholarship, Nanjing University, 1998.
  • People’s scholarship, Nanjing University, 1996.

Academic & Community Services:

  • Associate Editor, Journal of Environmental Quality, January 2017 – present.
  • Associate Editor, Canadian Journal of Soil Science, January 2016 – present.
  • SSSA Soil Physics and Hydrology Division Mentoring Committee, January 2016 – present (Member).

Courses taught:

  • CSS 340 Applied Soil Physics.
  • CSS 840 Soil Physics.
  • ESP 800 Introduction to Environmental Science and Policy.

Publications (15 most recent representative articles shown):

  1. Li, Y., J. He, H. Qi, H. Li, S.A. Boyd, and W. Zhang. 2020. Impact of biochar amendment on the uptake and fate of pharmaceuticals in soil-radish systems. Journal of Hazardous Materials (in press).
  2. Jeon, S., C.S. Krasnow, G.D. Bhalsod, B.R. Harlan, M.K. Hausbeck, S.I. Safferman, and W. Zhang. 2020. Control of Phytophthora capsici diseases in greenhouse squash by fast-flow filtration. Acta Horticulturae (accepted).
  3. He, J., Y. Zhang, Y. Guo, G. Rhodes, J. Yeom, H. Li, and W. Zhang. 2019. Photocatalytic degradation of cephalexin by ZnO nanowires under simulated sunlight: Kinetics, influencing factors, and mechanisms. Environment International, 132, 105105. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105105.
  4. Ma, Z., J. Liu, H. Li, W. Zhang, M.A. Williams, Y. Gao, F.O. Gudda, C. Lu, B. Yang, and M.G. Waigi. 2020. A fast and easily parallelizable biosensor method for measuring extractable tetracyclines in soils. Environmental Science & Technology, 54(2), 758-767. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b04051.
  5. Shen, Y., R.D. Stedtfeld, X. Guo, G.D. Bhalsod †, S. Jeon †, J.M. Tiedje, H. Li, and W. Zhang. 2019. Pharmaceutical exposure changed antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial communities in soil-surface- and overhead-irrigated greenhouse lettuce. Environment International, 131, 105031. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.105031.
  6. Jeon, S., C.S. Krasnow, G.D. Bhalsod †, B.R. Harlan, M.K. Hausbeck, S.I. Safferman, and W. Zhang. 2019. Rapid sand filtration of recycled irrigation water controlled Pythium root rot of poinsettia in greenhouse. HortTechnology, 29(5), 578–589. DOI: 10.21273/HORTTECH04226-18.
  7. Chuang, Y.-H., C.-H. Liu, J.B. Sallach, R. Hammerschmidt, W. Zhang, S.A. Boyd, and H. Li. 2019. Mechanistic study on uptake and transport of pharmaceuticals in lettuce from water. Environment International, 131, 104976. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.104976.
  8. He, J., D. Wang, W. Zhang, and D. Zhou. 2019. Deposition and release of carboxylated graphene in saturated porous media: Effect of transient solution chemistry. Chemosphere, 235, 643-650. DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.06.187.
  9. Wang, D., N.B. Saleh, W. Sun, C.M. Park, C. Shen, N. Aich, W.J.G.M. Peijnenburg, W. Zhang, Y. Jin, and C. Su. 2019. Next-generation multifunctional carbon-metal nanohybrids for energy and environmental applications. Environmental Science & Technology, 53(13), 7265-7287. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.9b01453.
  10. Wang, J., E.S. Odinga, W. Zhang, X. Zhou, B. Yang, M.G. Waigi, and Y. Gao. 2019. Polyaromatic hydrocarbons in biochars and human health risks of food crops grown in biochar-amended soils: A synthesis study. Environment International, 130, 104899. DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2019.06.009.
  11. Liu, C.-H., Y.-H. Chuang, H. Li, S.A. Boyd, B.J. Teppen, J.M. Gonzalez, C.T. Johnston, J. Lehmann, and W. Zhang. 2019. Long-term sorption of lincomycin to biochars: The intertwined roles of pore diffusion and dissolved organic carbon. Water Research, 161, 108-118. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2019.06.006.
  12. Hu, X., B. Yang, W. Zhang, Q. Chao, X. Sheng, P. Oleszczuk, and Y. Gao. 2019. Plasmid binding to metal oxide nanoparticles inhibited lateral transfer of antibiotic resistance genes. Environmental Science: Nano, 6, 1310-1322. DOI: 10.1039/c8en01447g.
  13. Chen, Z., W. Zhang, L. Yang, R.D. Stedtfeld, A. Peng, C. Gu, S.A. Boyd, and H. Li. 2019. Antibiotic resistance genes and bacterial communities in cornfield and pasture soils receiving swine and dairy manures. Environmental Pollution, 248, 947-957. DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2019.02.093.
  14. Li, Y., J.B. Sallach, W. Zhang, S.A. Boyd, and H. Li. 2019. Insight into the distribution of pharmaceuticals in soil-water-plant systems. Water Research, 152, 38-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2018.12.039.
  15. Liu, C.-H., W. Chu, H. Li, S.A. Boyd, B.J. Teppen, J. Mao, J. Lehmann, and W. Zhang. 2019. Quantification and characterization of dissolved organic carbon from biochars. Geoderma, 335, 161-169. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.08.019.