Illinois Sustainable Technology Center - University of Illinois

Wei Zheng

Senior Research Scientist/Adjunct Faculty at NRES

One East Hazelwood Drive
Champaign, Illinois 61820
phone: 217-333-7276
fax: 217-333-8944

Wei Zheng

Dr. Zheng joined the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) in 2008 as a Senior Research Scientist and is also an adjunct faculty at Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science (NRES) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UI).

Prior to joining the ISTC, he worked as a research scientist at USDA-ARS, Salinity Laboratory and University of California, Riverside. He earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Chemistry from Zhejiang University (China). Currently, his research is primarily focused on

  • emerging contaminants and pathogens associated with reclaimed water use and wastewater treatment;
  • environmental fate and pollution prevention of pesticides; and
  • biochar production and application.

Research Interests

  • Biochar Research:
    • Carbon Sequestration
    • Soil Amendment
    • Contaminant Remediation
  • Environmental Research:
    • Environmental Fate and transport of Contaminants including Pesticides and Pharmaceuticals and Personal-Care Products (PPCPs)
    • Detoxification and Remediation
    • Contaminant Processes in Ecosystems
    • Water Quality Chemistry
    • Wastewater treatment
  • Method Development for Trace Contaminant Analysis
  • Post-combustion carbon capture
  • Food Quality Analysis: Antioxidant

Professional Service

  • Associate Editor in Journal of Environmental Quality (2013-2017)
  • Editorial Board in International Journal of Environmental Monitoring and Analysis (Starting from 2012).
  • Review Panels – National Science Foundation & USDA Capacity Building Grants Research American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Research Competitiveness Program in the Environmental Chemistry
  • Reviewer for Grant Proposals
    • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
    • National Science Foundation (NSF)
    • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Department of Energy (DOE)
    • US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    • Norway Research Council
  • Reviewer for Journals
    Dr. Zheng has reviewed over 200 manuscripts for numerous peer-reviewed Journals

Funded Grants

  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products: Extending Knowledge and Mitigation Strategies; $300,000; (2014-2016). Principal Investigator (PI).
  • Improving Carbon Sequestration of Designer Biochars; Russell and Helen Dilworth Memorial Fund; $30,000; (2014-2015). PI
  • Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) in Karst Groundwater in Southwestern Illinois; PRI Collaboration Seed Fund; $28,698; (2014-2015). Co-PI.
  • Development of a Novel Biphasic Solvent-Based Process for Energy-Efficient Post-combustion CO2 Capture; PRI Collaboration Seed Fund; $30,000; (2014-2015). Co-PI.
  • Karst groundwater contaminants in western Illinois: comparison of current conditions with historical data; NGRREC Grant; $25,250; (2014). Co-PI.
  • Uptake and Accumulation of Pharmaceuticals and Hormones in Vegetables after Irrigation of Reused Water, Illinois Hazardous Waste Funds, $25,000, (2012-2013), Principal Investigator (PI).
  • Spatial and Source Apportionment Analysis of Contaminants in the Illinois River Sediments, Illinois Hazardous Waste Funds, $40,000, (2012-2013), PI.
  • Application of Biochar as a Soil Amendment in Greenhouse, Illinois Hazardous Waste Funds, $6,000. (2010-2012), PI.
  • Fate of pharmaceutical and personal care products in irrigated wastewater effluent, Illinois Hazardous Waste Funds, $24,970 (2011-2013), co-PI.
  • Fate and transport of steroid hormones and veterinary antibiotics derived from cattle farms, USDA/CSREES’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, $386,775 (2010-2013), Principal Investigator (PI).
  • Using biochar as a soil amendment for sustainable agriculture, Illinois Department of agriculture, $24,000 (2009-2010), PI.

Awards and Highlights

2013 Sewage lagoons remove most - but not all - pharmaceuticals.” U of I News Bureau, February, 2013
  "Project: Compost and Waste Management." SisterCities International, May 2013
2012 Team determines how estrogens persist in dairy farm wastewater.” U of I News Bureau, June, 2012
  First-place Poster Award in 6th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology
2004 First-place Young Scientist’s Research Recognition Award by ACS Agrochemical Division
2002 The manuscript titled “Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs” is highly appreciated in Newscripts section of Chemical Engineering News (February 25, 2002, p.56), Chemistry published by ACS (2002, spring/summer, p4), and Better Nutrition (April 2002, p.20).
2001 The manuscript titled “Effect of Plant Growth Temperature on Antioxidant Capacity in Strawberry” is featured in the perspectives section of Chemistry in Britain (January, 2002, p17-18) and recommended as 2001 Hot Article in J. Agric. Food Chem.

Recent Publications and Presentations

Dr. Zheng has over 70 peer-reviewed publications with total citations over several thousands; below is a selection of those publications.

  • Zhao, L.; Cao, X.; Zheng, W.; Wang, Q.; Fan, Y. Endogenous minerals have influences on surface electrochemistry and ion exchange properties of biochar. Chemosphere 2015, 136, 133-139.
  • Yates, S. R.; Ashworth, D. J; Zheng, W.; Zhang, Q.; Knuteson, J.; J. van Wessenbeeck, Ian. Emissions of 1,3-Dichloropropene and Chloropicrin after Soil Fumigation under Field Conditions. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2015, 63, 5354-5363.
  • Zou, Y.; Christensen, E. R.; Zheng, W.; Wei, H.; Li, A., Estimating stepwise debromination pathways of polybrominated diphenyl ethers with an analogue Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm. Chemosphere 2014, 114, 187-194.
  • Zheng, W.; Kelsey, W; Nancy, H.; Nathan, D.; Clinton, S., Uptake, translocation, and accumulation of pharmaceutical and hormone contaminants in vegetables. In Uptake, Translocation, and Distribution of Agrochemicals in Plants. Satchivi, Eds. ACS Symposium Series; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC. 2014; pp 167-181.
  • Zhao, L.; Zheng, W.; Cao, X., Distribution and evolution of organic matter phases during biochar formation and their importance in carbon loss and pore structure. Chemical Engineering Journal 2014, 250, 240-247.
  • Zhao, L., Cao, X.; Zheng, W.; Kan. Y., Phosphorus-assisted biomass thermal conversion: reducing carbon loss and improving biochar stability. PLoS ONE 2014, 9(12): e115373. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115373.
  • Zou, Y.; Zheng, W., Modeling Manure Colloid-Facilitated Transport of the Weakly Hydrophobic Antibiotic Florfenicol in Saturated Soil Columns. Environmental Science & Technology 2013, 47, (10), 5185-5192.
  • Zheng, W.; Zou, Y.; Li, X.; Machesky, M. L., Fate of estrogen conjugate 17 alpha-estradiol-3-sulfate in dairy wastewater: Comparison of aerobic and anaerobic degradation and metabolite formation. Journal of Hazardous Materials 2013, 258, 109-115.
  • Vardon, D. R.; Moser, B. R.; Zheng, W.; Witkin, K.; Evangelista, R. L.; Strathmann, T. J.; Rajagopalan, K.; Sharma, B. K., Complete Utilization of Spent Coffee Grounds To Produce Biodiesel, Bio-Oil, and Biochar. Acs Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 2013, 1, (10), 1286-1294.
  • Li, X.; Zheng, W.; Kelly, W. R., Occurrence and removal of pharmaceutical and hormone contaminants in rural wastewater treatment lagoons. Science of the Total Environment 2013, 445, 22-28.
  • Zheng, W.; Li, X.; Yates, S. R.; Bradford, S. A., Anaerobic Transformation Kinetics and Mechanism of Steroid Estrogenic Hormones in Dairy Lagoon Water. Environmental Science & Technology 2012, 46, (10), 5471-5478.
  • Yates, S. R.; Knuteson, J.; Zheng, W.; Wang, Q., Effect of Organic Material on Field-scale Emissions of 1,3-Dichloropropene. Journal of Environmental Quality 2011, 40, (5), 1470-1479.
  • Li, X.; Zheng, W.; Machesky, M. L.; Yates, S. R.; Katterhenry, M., Degradation Kinetics and Mechanism of Antibiotic Ceftiofur in Recycled Water Derived from a Beef Farm. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2011, 59, (18), 10176-10181.
  • Zheng, W.; Guo, M.; Chow, T.; Bennett, D. N.; Rajagopalan, N., Sorption properties of greenwaste biochar for two triazine pesticides. Journal of Hazardous Materials 2010, 181, (1-3), 121-126.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K., Transformation kinetics and mechanism of the sulfonylurea herbicides pyrazosulfuron ethyl and halosulfuron methyl in aqueous solutions. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2008, 56, (16), 7367-7372.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Bradford, S. A., Analysis of steroid hormones in a typical airy waste disposal system. Environmental Science & Technology 2008, 42, (2), 530-535.
  • Yates, S. R.; Knuteson, J.; Ernst, F. F.; Zheng, W.; Wang, Q., Effect of Sequential Surface Irrigations on Field-Scale Emissions of 1,3-Dichloropropene. Environmental Science & Technology 2008, 42, (23), 8753-8758.
  • Bradford, S. A.; Segal, E.; Zheng, W.; Wang, Q.; Hutchins, S. R., Reuse of concentrated animal feeding operation wastewater on agricultural lands. Journal of Environmental Quality 2008, 37, (5), S97-S115.
  • Ashworth, D. J.; Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R., Determining breakthrough of the soil fumigant chloropicrin from 120 mg XAD-4 sorbent tubes. Atmospheric Environment 2008, 42, (21), 5483-5488.
  • Zheng, Y.; Wang, S. Y.; Wang, C. Y.; Zheng, W., Changes in strawberry phenolics, anthocyanins, and antioxidant capacity in response to high oxygen treatments. Lwt-Food Science and Technology 2007, 40, (1), 49-57.
  • Zheng, W.; Gan, J.; Papiernik, S. K.; Yates, S. R., Identification of volatile/semivolatile products derived from chemical remediation of cis-1,3-dichloropropene by thiosulfate. Environmental Science & Technology 2007, 41, (18), 6454-6459.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K.; Wang, Q. Q., Reducing 1,3-dichloropropene emissions from soil columns amended with thiourea. Environmental Science & Technology 2006, 40, (7), 2402-2407.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K.; Nunez, J., Conversion of metam sodium and emission of fumigant from soil columns. Atmospheric Environment 2006, 40, (36), 7046-7056.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X.; Gan, J. Y., Dechlorination of chloropicrin and 1,3-dichloropropene by hydrogen sulfide species: Redox and nucleophilic substitution reactions. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2006, 54, (6), 2280-2287.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R., Transformation of two chlorinated fumigants by hydrogen sulfide species. Abstracts of Papers of the American Chemical Society 2006, 232, 638-638.
  • Zheng, W.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X.; Dungan, R. S.; Yates, S. R., Construction of a reactive surface barrier to reduce fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene emissions. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2005, 24, (8), 1867-1874.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X., Effect of combined application of methyl isothiocyanate and chloropicrin on their transformation. Journal of Environmental Quality 2004, 33, (6), 2157-2164.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X., Transformation of herbicide propachlor by an agrochemical thiourea. Environmental Science & Technology 2004, 38, (24), 6855-6860.
  • Zheng, W.; Yates, S. R.; Guo, M. X.; Papiernik, S. K.; Kim, J. H., Transformation of chloropicrin and 1,3-dichloropropene by metam sodium in a combined application of fumigants. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2004, 52, (10), 3002-3009.
  • Zheng, W.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X.; Yates, S. R., Remediation of methyl iodide in aqueous solution and soils amended with thiourea. Environmental Science & Technology 2004, 38, (4), 1188-1194.
  • Zheng, W.; Liu, W. P.; Wen, Y. Z.; Lee, S. J., Photochemistry of insecticide imidacloprid: direct and sensitized photolysis in aqueous medium. Journal of Environmental Sciences-China 2004, 16, (4), 539-542.
  • Zheng, W.; Wang, S. Y., Oxygen radical absorbing capacity of phenolics in blueberries, cranberries, chokeberries, and lingonberries. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003, 51, (2), 502-509.
  • Zheng, W.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X.; Yates, S. R., Accelerated degradation of methyl iodide by agrochemicals. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003, 51, (3), 673-679.
  • Zheng, W.; Papiernik, S. K.; Guo, M. X.; Yates, S. R., Competitive degradation between the fumigants chloropicrin and 1,3-dichloropropene in unamended and amended soils. Journal of Environmental Quality 2003, 32, (5), 1735-1742.
  • Zheng, W.; Wang, S. Y., Antioxidant activity and phenolic compounds in selected herbs. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2001, 49, (11), 5165-5170.

Presentations and Symposia Proceedings:
Dr. Zheng has given numerous invited presentations to national and international audiences (over 50).

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