Tian C. Zhang, Ph.D., P.E., D.WRE, Dist.M.ASCE, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), has been honored with inclusion by ASCE in its 2022 class of distinguished members for his exemplary career as an educator and researcher, most notably in the development of innovative technologies in water/wastewater treatment and pollution control, and the sharing of these technologies and knowledge through technical literature and publications.
Zhang’s reputation as an expert in environmental engineering has long been known the world over. This is especially true in the area of biological wastewater treatment and control of pollutants. He used microelectrode and microtome techniques to study biofilm structure and the microenvironment within the biofilm (e.g., concentration profiles of dissolved oxygen, pH, ammonium, nitrate, and redox), and his results have reshaped the biofilm modeling and application of biofilm-based technologies.
He developed sulfur-limestone autotrophic denitrification (SLAD) processes and successfully extended the processes for nitrate removal in drinking water, wastewater, landfill leachate, septic tank effluent, and aquarium water, an example of the latter being SeaWorld in Florida. The activated iron technology that he and his students developed has been used as a new platform for heavy metals removal in industrial-scale treatment processes.
In the past decade, Zhang has moved into development of sustainable communities and societies, as evidenced by his two books on climate change and mitigation strategies, two books on renewable energy, three on green technologies, three on nanotechnology, two on membrane technology, and one on emerging contaminants. He gives presentations worldwide and has published over 330 peer-reviewed papers and 33 gene-bank submissions.
A consummate research leader in the United States and Asia, Zhang provides essential contributions in program management and overall policy development for many governmental agencies. He has taught 20 courses and created, fashioned, or significantly redeveloped 11 more, as well as conducted numerous workshops and short courses on environmental remediation, water treatment, and watershed management, specifically for environmental engineering professionals in developing nations.
Zhang has received a host of awards, including two from AAEES: the 2016 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Sciences Award and the Grand Prize for University Research. From ASCE he has garnered the State-of-the-Art of Civil Engineering Award (2014, 2017), Rudolph Hering Medal (2016), and the Journal of Environmental Engineering’s Editor Award for Service (2004). He is currently associate editor of this ASCE journal.
He is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as an elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is also a veteran panelist/reviewer, including on NSF panels, and a committee member or chair of various professional organizations.
Zhang earned his doctoral degree in environmental engineering from the University of Cincinnati in 1994.
ASCE will honor the 2022 class of distinguished members during the ASCE 2022 Convention, Oct. 24, in Anaheim, California.