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Qingzhi Zhu

ZhuAssociate Professor

Ph.D., 1997, Xiamen University

Chem-/Bio- Sensors, Marine Biogeochemistry, Trace Elements, Environmental Analytical Chemistry




Research Interests

My research focuses on the development of bio/chemical sensors for in-situ studying elemental cycling and biogeochemical reaction dynamics in the marine sediments. A major theme in my research is to understand the spatial and temporal distributions and dynamics of solutes and bioactive metals associated with the benthic infaunal community, and to conceptualize heterogeneous biogeochemical transport – reaction processes in bioturbated deposits. The tools and techniques to multi-dimensionally measure solutes and trace elements in natural sediment do not exist, so the development of new methodology is an important part of my research.

One part of my research is to develop unique planar optical sensors and to quantitatively relate multidimensional patterns in sediment composition, for example, pore water solute or solid phase distributions and dynamics, to specific biogeochemical reaction rates and material fluxes by using the sensors. Compositional changes with depth in deposits are usually assumed steady and to occur in an overall average vertical progression. Significant heterogeneity and complex three dimensional reaction patterns over millimeter to meter scales can result, however, from the activities of bottom dwelling fauna. High resolution quantification of the multi-dimensional distributions of pore water solutes are thus essential for fundamental understanding of chemical diagenesis and elemental cycling in surficial sediments. Because the bioturbated zone in organic-rich surficial sediments is typically characterized by intense and complex coupling between multiple redox reactions associated with O2, H+, CO2, Mn(II), Fe(II), S(II-), nitrate, and exoenzyme. Thus, we are particularly interested in solutes consumed or generated by these reactions. My group and I have been developing 2-D optical sensors for these parameters and studying mechanisms of element transport – reaction processes in marine deposites.

Another important research activity in my lab is to study the biogeochemical cycling of micronutrient vitamins in marine system. Vitamins are naturally-occurring trace organic compounds essential for biological growth and functioning. Vitamin B12, for example, is a cobalt-containing coenzyme specifically required by most marine phytoplankton and is important in the regulation of primary production. With funding from NSF, we have been developing sensitive and specific ELISA methods for B12 analysis and investigating B12 potential source, distribution and transport in marine system. My group and I are current studying ultra-sensitive and specific biosensors for in-situ measurement of vitamin B12 in ocean and investigating B12 biogeochemical cycling and the transport – reaction processes controlling B12 behavior in sedimentary deposits and overlying water.

I am also interested in the monitoring and solution of practical environmental problems arising from metal and metalloid contaminants in estuarine and coastal systems, such as the distribution, speciation and removal of heavy metals. My laboratory has been investigating the distributions of heavy metals (such as Pb, V, Cd, Cr) around plant roots and the characteristics of metal transport into the root and spatial accumulation in the rhizophere using synchrotron radiation and ICPMS techniques. The Trace Element Laboratory has a range of facilities available for the relating research including a 400 sq. ft. class-100 trace metal clean laboratory, a Finnigan MAT Element 2 ICP-MS, a Perkin Elmer GFF-AAS and a HPLC.

Selected Publications

(>80 publications, a complete list can be obtained by request)

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller. 2013. Planar fluorescence sensors for two-dimensional measurements of H2S distributions and dynamics in sedimentary deposits. Mar. Chem. (in press)

Cao, Z., Q.Z. Zhu, R.C. Aller and J.Y. Aller. 2013. Seasonal, 2-D sedimentary extracellular enzyme activities and controlling processes in Great Peconic Bay, Long Island. J. Mar. Res. (in press)

Michaud, E., R.C. Aller, Q.Z. Zhu, C. Heilbrun, and G. Stora. Density and size dependent effects of Nephtys incisa populations on sediment solute fluxes. J. Mar. Res. (in press)

Liu, Z., J. Liu, Q.Z. Zhu, and W. Wu. 2012. The weathering of oil after the deep water horizon oil spill: Insights from chemical compositions of the oil from the sea surface, salt marshes, and sediments. Environ. Res. Lett. 2012, 7: 035302.

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller. 2012. Two-dimensional dissolved ferrous iron distributions in marine sediments as revealed by a novel planar optical sensor. Mar. Chem. 136-137: 14-23.

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller and A. Kaushik. 2011. Analysis of vitamin B12 in seawater and marine sediment pore water using ELISA. Limnology & Oceanography: Methods 9:515-523.

Soto-Neira, J., Q.Z. Zhu, R.C. Aller. 2011. A new spectrophotometric method to quantify dissolved manganese in marine pore waters. Mar. Chem. 127:56-63.

Cao, Z., Q.Z. Zhu, R.C. Aller, J.Y. Aller. 2011. A fluorosensor for two-dimensional in situ extracellular enzyme activity measurements in marine sediments. Mar. Chem. 123: 23-31.

Fan, Y., Q.Z. Zhu, R.C. Aller, D.C. Rhoads. 2011. An in situ multispectral imaging system for planar optodes in sediments: example high resolution seasonal patterns of pH. Aquatic Geochem. 17:457-471.

Zhu, Q.Z. and R.C. Aller. 2010. A rapid response planar fluorosensor for measuring two-dimensional pCO2 distribution and transient dynamics in marine sediments. Limnol. Oceanogra. Methods 8: 326-336.

Przeslawski, R., Q.Z. Zhu, R.C Aller. 2009. Effects of abiotic stressors on infaunal burrowing and associated sediment characteristics. Marine Ecology Progress Series 392: 33-42.

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller, and Y. Fan. 2006. Two-dimensional pH distributions and dynamics in bioturbated marine sediments. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta. 70:4933-4949.

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller, and Y. Fan. 2006. A new ratiometric, planar fluorosensor for measuring high resolution, two-dimensional pCO2distributions in marine sediments. Mar. Chem. 101:40-53.

Zhu, Q.Z., R.C. Aller, and Y. Fan. 2005. High-performance planar pH fluorosensor for two-dimensional pH measurements in marine sediment and water. Environ. Sci. Technol. 39:8906-8911.

Deng, AP, M. Himmelsbach, Q.Z. Zhu, S. Frey, M. Sengl, W. Buchberger, R. Niessner, D. Knopp. 2003. Residue analysis of the pharmaceutical diclofenac in different water types using ELISA and GC-MS. Environ. Sci. Technol. 37:3422-3429.

Zhu, Q.Z., P. Degelmann, R. Niessner, D. Knopp. 2002. Selective trace analysis of sulfonylurea herbicides in water and soil samples based on solid-phase extraction using a molecularly imprinted polymer. Environ. Sci. Technol. 36:5411-5420.

Zhu, Q.Z., K. Haupt, D. Knopp, and R. Niessner. 2002. Molecular imprinting of metsulfuron-methyl and its binding characteristics for sulfonylurea herbicides. Anal. Chim. Acta 468:217-227.

Yang, H.H., Q.Z. Zhu, H.Y. Qu, X.L Chen, M.T. Ding, J.G. Xu. 2002. Flow injection fluorescence immunoassay for gentamicin using sol-gel-derived mesoporous biomaterial. Anal. Biochem. 308:71-76.

Zhu, Q.Z., H.H. Yang, D.H. Li, Q.Y. Chen, and J.G. Xu. 2000. A novel mimetic enzymatic fluorescence immunoassay for hepatitis B surface antigen by using a thermal phase separating polymer. Analyst 125:2260-2263.

Wen Cong, URECA Researcher of the Month – February 2016

From Wen Cong, URECA Researcher of the Month, February 2016 Marine Sciences major, Class of 2016 Research Mentor: Dr.Qingzhi Zhu, School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences   “I am very lucky to have Dr. Zhu as my mentor,” reflects Wen Cong, a Marine Sciences...

“Souper Bowl I” Raises Funds for Teaching Award

Thanks to everyone who turned out for SoMAS Souper Bowl I!  We had a great time and raised $373 for the Protopopescu Teaching Award.  A dozen of the best cooks at SoMAS fired burners, simmered stock, and selected ingredients.  Entries included: Black Bean, Red Pepper,...

Dr. Qingzhi Zhu’s Optical Chemical Sensors

SoMAS Assistant Professor Qingzhi Zhu creates optical chemical sensors that permit new observations of biogeochemical reactions associated with organic matter diagenesis in marine sediments. Dr. Zhu’s sensors can be used to examine a two-dimensional plane going...

Dr. Qingzhi Zhu Joins SoMAS Faculty as Assistant Professor

This semester, SoMAS welcomed Dr. Qingzhi Zhu as Assistant Professor. Dr. Zhu has been part of the SoMAS community, as a research scientist and adjunct faculty member working with Dr. Robert Aller, since 2002. Dr. Zhu, who received his doctorate in Chemistry in 1997...

Invention Leads to New Insights in Sediment Biogeochemisty

MSRC researchers recently completed development of a new optical sensor for analyzing marine sediments in both the field and the laboratory. Their invention allows real-time measurements of pH in 100 cm² sediment sections in the bioturbated zone (top ~ 20 cm). This...

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