Yongli Zhang

Yongli  Zhang

Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering

5050 Anthony Wayne Dr., Detroit, MI 48202
Engineering Building
Room 2168

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Yongli Zhang


Phone : (313) 577 - 9962 


Home Pageblogs.wayne.edu/wees/

Dr. Yongli Zhang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her teaching and research interests focus the sustainability of water-energy nexus.

Water and energy are two critical resources inextricable and reciprocally linked: the generation of energy requires large amounts of water, while the treatment and distribution of water are dependent on reliable and low-cost energy. There are significant challenges in providing both clean, affordable water and energy. These challenges include: water and energy resource depletion, high environmental impacts associated with conventional fossil fuels, emerging contaminants in watersheds, etc. Dr. Zhangs research group is interested in tackling these challenges by integrating bioenergy generation and water management for simultaneous production of bio-based energy and water quality improvement in an integrated, strategic manner via a combination of life cycle modeling and targeted laboratory experiments.

Dr. Zhangs specific research areas include:

  • Management of emerging contaminants in natural and engineered water systems;
  • Water treatment and water quality;
  • Renewable bio-energy, especially as pertaining to algal biofuel;
  • Integrated bio-energy generation and wastewater treatment;
  • Evaluating economic and environmental sustainability of emerging technologies by using life cycle assessment (LCA), life cycle costing (LCC), and economic and systems-level analyses.


Nov 2018: Dr. Zhang gave a link in Detroit's Public Radio Station regarding her team's microplastic research project. Click here to listen
PhD Research Assistant  Needed Immediately: Dr. Zhang's research group invites applications for a PhD Research Assistant position starting from Spring or Fall of 2019. This position is full-funded for at least three years. The candidate is expected to work on 1) the occurence, fate and transport of microplastics in natural and engineered water systems; 2) the interactions of microplastics with water microbiome; and 3) analytical methods to identify / quantify micro/nano plastic particles in aquatic environments. Ideal condidates should have earned a MS or an equivelent degree in envrionmental engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, or other related fields. They are expected to have research experience in water quality, environmental pollutants, waste- and drinking-water treatment processes, and good analytical skills in LC/MS, Microscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, or other related skills. Good computer skills (programing, cloud-based data processing, and webpage development) is a plus. Interested applicants please contact Dr. Yongli Zhang (zhangyl@wayne.edu) for more details.
PhD Research Assistant Needed : My research group is looking for a PhD Research Assistant for a new, interdisciplinary NSF funded graduate training program in Urban Sustainability (particularly focusing on Sustainable Urban Water Infrastructure). Please click HERE for detailed information.
Oct 2018: Congratulations to Allison Diehl to receive the College of Engineering Undergraduate Research Award!
June 2018: Congratulations to Javad Roostaei for his PhD dissertation defense and wish the best for his new journey!
May 2018: Congratulations to Allison Diehl and Ashton Lewandowski for wining the Barber Richard Barber Summer Research Scholarship!
May 2018: Welcome our new PhD student Jonathan Weyhrauch joining in our group!

April 2018: Dr. Yongli Zhang's project, occurence, fate and transport of microplastics in drinking water systems was funded by the Richard Barber Interdisciplinary Research Award.
April 2017: Javad and his team won "Design Day 2nd Place" award in 2017 Student Innovation and Design Competition, with the project entitled "Low-cost and Scalable IoT Sensor Packages for Environmental Monitoring". Congratulations! (Image)
Javad’s poster about CO2 sequestration with wastewater-based algae has been selected for the first place award in the  2017  Graduate and Postdoctoral Research Symposium (webpage

Courses Taught

CE 6270_Environmental Management and Sustainable Development

CE 5997/7995_Applied Environmental Microbiology

Research Group

 Dr.Krishore Gopalakrishnan - Javad Roostaei - Mohammad Mahaninia - Vittoria Veltri - Michael Dunne - Alexander J Ochocki - Danielle Evans

Research Projects

1. Spatial Life Cycel Assessment of Algal Bioenergy with Available Wastewater, Fluegas, and Land in the U.S.

2. Mixed Algal-bacterial Cultures for Bioenergy Generation and Water Treatment



  • Colosi, L.M., Resurreccion, E.P., Zhang, Y.L. Evaluating estrogen removal as a possible sustainability benefit of integrated wastewater treatment and algae cultivation, Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts, (17) 2015, pp. 421-428.
  • Zhang, Y.L., Habteselassie, M.Y., Resurreccion, E.P., Mantripragada, V., Peng, S.S., Bauer, S., Colosi, L.M. Evaluating removal of steroid estrogens by a model alga as a possible sustainability benefit of hypothetical integrated algae cultivation and wastewater treatment systems, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, 2 (11) 2014, pp. 2544-2553.
  • Zhang, Y.L., Colosi, L.M. Practical ambiguities during calculation of energy ratios and their impacts on life cycle assessment calculations, Energy Policy (57) 2013, pp. 630-633.
  • Zhang, Y.L., Colosi, L.M. What are we missing by focusing on algae biodiesel? Biofuels 4 (60) 2013, pp. 591-593.
  • Zhang, Y.L., White, M.A., Colosi, L.M. Environmental and economic assessment of integrated systems for dairy manure treatment coupled with algae bioenergy production, Bioresource Technology (130) 2013, pp. 486-494.
  • Colosi, L.M., Zhang, Y.L., Clarens, A.F., White, M.A. Will algae produce green? Using published life cycle assessments as a starting point for economic evaluation of future algae-to-energy systems, Biofuels 3 (2) 2012, pp. 129-142.
  • Zhang, Y.L., Marrs, C.F., Simon, C., Xi, C.W. Wastewater treatment contributes to selective increase of antibiotic resistance among Acinetobacter spp., Science of the Total Environment 407(12) 2009, pp. 3702-3706.
  • Xi, C.W., Zhang, Y.L., Marrs, C.F., Ye, W., Simon, C., Foxman, B., and Niragu, J. Prevalence of antibiotic resistance in drinking water treatment and distribution systems, Applied and Environmental Microbiology 75(17) 2009, pp. 5714-5718.
  • Xi, C.W., Bush, K., Lachmayr, K.L., Zhang, Y.L., and Ford, T.E. Interactions between environmental microbial ecosystems and humans: the case of the water environment and antibiotic resistance, Food-Borne Microbes: Shaping the Host Ecosystem, edited by Lee-Ann Jaykus, Hua H. Wang, and Larry S. Schlesinger (ASM Press, April 2009).
  • Zhang, Y.L., Li, Y.Z., Tang, J.L." Research on the application of DNA chip technique." Guangxi Agricultural and Biological Science (June) 2001, pp. 133-136.
  • Li, Y.Z., Zhang, Y.L., Tang, J.L. "An introduction to DNA chip technique." Jiangxi Medical Inspection 18(3) 2000, pp. 170-172.