Dr. Jing Zhang is currently a professor in the Key Laboratory of Environmental Nano-technology and Health Effect at Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES), Chinese Academy of Sciences. He got his Ph.D. from Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, Chinese Academy of Sciences. After that, he worked as a postdoc fellow in the Institute of Complex System at the Research Center of Juelich, Germany. Since 2015, he joined RCEES under the support of the “100 Talents Program” of Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research is focused on the nanomaterials and colloids and their applications into the treatment of environmental contaminants, especially for the removal and recycling of heavy metal waste.
Read his Emerging Investigator article “Treatment and recycling of heavy metals from nanosludge” and find out more about him in the interview below:
Your recent Emerging Investigator Series paper focuses on the treatment and recycling of heavy metals from nanosludges. How has your research evolved from your first article to this most recent article?
Nanosludges are often produced as the byproducts of many industrial activities and wastewater treatment, such as electroplating, smelting, chlorate manufacture, etc. In these sludges, nanoparticles are the main component, which readily adsorb or incorporate pollutants (e.g. heavy metal ions) and thus pose a serious threat to environment. It is a great challenge to treat the nanosludges due to the nanosize effects of the solid particle matrix. My PhD study is about the growth kinetics of mineral nanoparticles and published my first paper on the new theory of controlling nanocrystal growth. In recent years, my research has evolved from the fundamental understanding of nanocrystal nucleation and growth, as well as their colloidal behaviors, to the interaction between heavy metal ions and nanoparticle matrix. The theory of colloidal particle growth and is important to guide our recent studies on how to effectively eliminate nanosize effects in the treatment of nanosludges.
What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?
To extract and recycle valuable resources (e.g. heavy metals and nanomaterials) from industrial solid-waste without inputting excess energy.
In your opinion, what are the most important questions to be asked/answered in this field of research?
In order to develop an effective strategy for the treatment of nanosludges, the most important question is how to uncover the growth and phase transformation kinetics of nanocrystals or nanominerals in the sludge, as well as to quantify and predict the release and transfer of heavy metals from their nano-phase matrices.
What do you find most challenging about your research?
It is a great challenge to apply nanomaterials into solving practically environmental pollution, meanwhile avoiding the adverse effects of nanomaterials to environments. More efforts need to be expedited to fill the gap between lab and industry.
In which upcoming conferences or events may our readers meet you?
I plan to attend the Gordon Conference on Environmental Nanotechnology and the 10th National Conference on Environmental Chemistry (10th NCEC) of China in 2019.
How do you spend your spare time?
In my spare time, I like doing some sports, reading, and of course spending time with my families.
Which profession would you choose if you were not a scientist?
I like using my professional knowledge and skill to help people and make them feel better. So, a doctor would be my optional choice of profession.
Can you share one piece of career-related advice or wisdom with other early career scientists?
As an early career scientist, it is important to focus on your interest and keep patience.