Xiaoyan Li


E-mail : lixiaoyan@sz.tsinghua.edu.cn

Tel & Fax : 2859 2659

Research Accomplishments:

My research work has been mainly in the field of water pollution control and advanced wastewater treatment, for which I have particular achievements in the areas of (1) microbial aggregates and aerobic granulation in biological wastewater treatment and (2) membrane technology and advanced oxidation processes for wastewater treatment.

For the study on microbial aggregates, I was among the early ones to investigate the fractal feature and to model the fractal behavior of the aggregate flocs in bioreactors. I was arguably the first one to originate and define the double-layer structure of extracellular polymeric substances (EPS), i.e., loosely-bound and tightly-bound EPS, for microbial aggregates. The study led to a new research topic, and my publications on this topic have been widely cited, with two ISI top 1% highly cited papers, each with over 400 citations, one paper making me Top Cited Author in Water Research which ranks #1 out of 85 journals in Water Resources. Owing to the significant achievements in this research area, I, together with two partners, received The Second-Class State Natural Science Award in 2014 from State Council, China. For the study on aerobic sludge granulation, a new treatment technology developed in recent years, I advanced the granulation technique, proposed new mechanisms and formulated new models for the granulation process. My research on this topic not only produced publications that are widely cited, but also contributed to the development of the sludge granulation technology in China and abroad. In recognition of the technological advancement, I, together with two collaborators, received First-Class Award in Natural Science in 2012 from Ministry of Education, China.

Membranes are used as a promising technology for both water and wastewater treatment; however, membrane fouling is still a main obstacle to membrane applications. I further revealed the mechanisms of membrane fouling, especially in membrane bioreactors (MBR), discovered new organic foulants, and formed new models to simulate the fouling process. The findings helped develop effective strategies for membrane fouling mitigation, and related publications are also widely cited. For the study on advanced chemical treatment methods, I was among the early ones to use the electrochemical methods for industrial wastewater treatment. Recently, I also worked on photocatalysis using solar energy for both pollutant degradation and hydrogen generation from water. The work has delivered high-impact publications, with two papers having over 250 citations each and one ISI top 1% highly cited paper.

In recent years, I have been making more effort to develop my own research themes. Besides pollutant removal in wastewater treatment, I begin to place more emphasis on resource recovery during the treatment process. Proposals for the new research directions have been well received by peers and experts, and major research projects have been obtained on chemically enhanced primary sedimentation for resource recovery and on enhanced separation and sludge refinery for advanced wastewater treatment and resource recovery in mega cities.


Ph.D. (1996) Environmental Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

M.Sc. (1990) Environmental Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

B.Sc.  (1986) Environmental Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

Professional Experience:

Professor, July 2018 – present

Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI), Shenzhen, China.

Professor/Associate Professor/Assistant Professor, September 1996 – present

Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

Research Associate, June 1992 – August 1996

Environmental Engineering Lab, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Environmental Engineer, August 1990 – December 1991

Beijing District Utility Company (BDUC), Beijing, China.

Research Assistant, September 1988 – July 1990

Department of Environmental Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

Assistant Environmental Engineer, July 1986 – August 1988

Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical Company (BYPC), Beijing, China.

Research Interests:

-Energy and resource recovery from wastewater and sludge;

-Solids-liquid separation: particle coagulation, sedimentation and filtration;

-Advanced oxidation technologies (AOT) in water and wastewater treatment;

-Membrane filtration in water and wastewater treatment.

Major Awards and Recognitions:

2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, ESI top 1% highly cited author (Environment & Ecology), ISI Web of Science.

2014, Second-Class State Natural Science Award (Yu H.Q., Li X.Y. and Sheng G.P.), State Council, China.

2013, Best Platform Presentation Award, IWA-ASPIRE Conference & Exhibition, September 2013, Daejeon, Korea.

2012,   First-Class Award in Natural Science (Hu H.Q., Li X.Y. and Sheng G.P.), Higher Education Institution Scientific Research Outstanding Achievement Awards (Natural Science), Ministry of Education, China.

2011, Top Cited Author 2007-2011, Water Research, Elsevier.

2008, Outstanding Overseas Young Researcher Fund (for research collaboration with the University of Science and Technology), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

2004, Outstanding Young Researcher Award, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

1997, Outstanding Doctoral Thesis, Association of Environmental Engineering Professors (AEEP, now AEESP), USA.

1986, Outstanding Graduate, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.

Editorship and Professional Membership:

-Associate Editor (2013- ) Process Biochemistry, Elsevier

- Member, American Chemical Society (ACS)

-Member, International Water Association (IWA)

-Member, American Water Works Association (AWWA)

-Member, Association of Environmental Engineering and Science Professors (AEESP)

Research Outputs (1997- )

-Book chapters    2

-SCI journal papers                   170+

-Total citations (ISI web of science)         6300+

-H index (ISI web of science)           42

-Keynote and invited speeches             30+

-Conference presentations               100+

-Patents:                             8

Representative Publications:

(a) Five most representative publications in recent 5 years

Li RH, Wang XM, Li XY (2018) A membrane bioreactor with iron dosing and acidogenic co-fermentation for enhanced phosphorus removal and recovery in wastewater treatment. Water Res. 129:402-412.

Lin L, Li RH, Yang ZY, Li XY (2017) Effect of coagulant on acidogenic fermentation of sludge from enhanced primary sedimentation for resource recovery: Comparison between FeCl3 and PACl. Chem. Eng. J., 325:681-689.

Wang F, Lu XW, Li XY (2016) Selective removals of heavy metals (Pb2+, Cu2+, and Cd2+) from wastewater by gelation with alginate for effective metal recovery. J. Hazard. Mat., 308:75-83.

Wang F, Lu XW, Li XY, Shih K (2015) Effectiveness and mechanisms of defluorination of perfluorinated alkyl Substances by calcium compounds during waste thermal treatmentm. Environ. Sci. Technol., 49:5672-5680.

Li AJ, Li XY, Yu HQ (2013) Aerobic sludge granulation facilitated by activated carbon for partial nitrification treatment of ammonia-rich wastewater. Chem. Eng. J., 218:253-259.

(b) Five representative publications beyond recent 5 years

Peng WC, Wang X, Li XY (2014) Synergetic effect of MoS2 and graphene on Ag3PO4 for its ultra-enhanced photocatalytic activity in phenols degradation under visible light. Nanoscale, 6:8311-8317.

Cui YH, Li XY, Chen GH (2009) Electrochemical degradation of bisphenol A on different anodes. Water Res., 43:1968-1976.

Li AJ, Li XY (2009) Selective sludge discharge as the determining factor in SBR aerobic granulation: numerical modelling and experimental verification. Water Res., 43:3387-3396.

Li XY, Yang SF (2007) Influence of loosely bound extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) on the flocculation, sedimentation and dewaterability of activated sludge. Water Res., 41:1022-1030.

Li XY, Cui YH, Feng YJ, Xie ZM Gu JD (2005) Reaction pathways and mechanisms of the electrochemical degradation of phenol on different electrodes. Water Res., 39:1972-1981.