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School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Yan Zheng


Science Building, Room E216
Phone: 718-997-3329

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Research Interests

Human impact on our environment has created a variety of problems that require fundamental understanding of natural systems.

My research is focused on the biogeochemical cycles of elements in the environment. For example, I investigated the marine geochemistry of Cd, as well as several oxyanion elements, such as Ge, Mo and U, particularly the biogeochemical processes responsible for removal of these elements in the ocean. Currently, investigation of geochemistry of another oxyanion element, As, is being conducted in Bangladesh groundwater system and Maine, USA ( Investigation of sulfur biogeochemistry is being carried out in groundwater system and estuary. Studies of inorganic and organic contaminants and hypoxia on living resources of the bays and basins of western Long Island Sound are being conducted.

Field sampling and laboratory measurements of elements and isotopes are combined to study the biogeochemical cycles of elements. My laboratory also develops analytical methods that are suitable for field measurements as well as for rapid analyses of environmental samples. Our understanding of controls of element movement in nature enables us to make wiser decisions on environmental problems facing society today.

Teaching Philosophy and Interests

I strongly believe in the value of knowledge-based classroom teaching, especially the importance of explaining the rigor of scientific investigation. This philosophy guided me to prepare for a wide range of courses from freshman introductory to Ph.D. level (see below). Science is driven by curiosity (e.g. hypothesis), but hypotheses must be supported by evidence that are most often derived from rigorous and innovative observation, experiments or theoretical calculations to become theories.

Courses taught

  • GEOL25 Natural Resources and the Environment
  • GEOL100 Introduction to Geology
  • ENSCI 111 Introduction to the Environment (with curriculum development of laboratory)
  • ENCI 112 Our Changing Planet
  • GEOL270 Geochemistry of the Global Environment
  • ENSCI373 Environmental Problem Solving
  • GEOL383 Analytical Methods in Environmental Geochemistry


  • EES1883 Environmental Problems of Urban and Metropolitan Coasts
  • EES1889 Isotope Tracers in the Environment
  • ENSCI383/GEOL799.3 Environmental Geochemistry


Datta, S., Mailloux, B., Hoque, M.A., Jung, H.-B., Stute, M., Ahmed, K.M., Zheng, Y., 2009. Enrichment of Arsenic in Sediments from the Meghna River Bank in Bangladesh: Implication for Recycling of Arsenic. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Yu, G., D. Sun and Y. Zheng, 2007. Health effects of exposure to natural arsenic from groundwater and coal in China: An overview of occurrence, Environmental Health Perspective, 115(4) 636-642.

Zheng, Y., A. van Geen, M. Stute, R. Dhar, Z. Mo, Z. Cheng, A. Horneman, I. Gavrieli, H.J. Simpson, R. Versteeg, M. Steckler, A. Grazioli-Venier, S. Goodbred, M. Shanewaz, M. Shamsudduha, M. A. Hoque, and K. M. Ahmed, 2005, Geochemical and hydrogeological contrasts between shallow and deeper aquifers in two villages of Araihazar, Bangladesh: Implications deeper aquifers as drinking water sources, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta, 69:5203-5218

Zheng, Y., M. Stute, A. van Geen, I. Gavrieli, R. Dhar, H. J. Simpson, K. M. Ahmed, 2004, Redox Control of Arsenic Mobilization in Bangladesh Groundwater, Applied Geochemistry 19:201-214.

Zheng, Y., R. F Anderson, A. van Geen, and J. S. Kuwabara, 2000, Controls of authigenic Mo formation in marine sediment: Linkage to pore water sulfide, Geochim. Cosmochim Acta, 64(23):4165-4178


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