Dr Zhen (Jason) HE (China)

Jason’s interests include biological wastewater treatment, sustainable seawater desalination, and bioenergy production.

PhD in Environmental Engineering

Current position: Professor at the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, United States of America

Research focus: biological wastewater treatment, bio-electrochemical systems, sustainable seawater desalination and bioenergy production

Jason became Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin in 2009 and completed a postdoctoral training period at the University of Southern California. Since then, he has established a research programme in environmental biotechnology and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure at Virginia Tech in 2013. In 2017 he was promoted to full professor.

He established the Center for Applied Water Research and Innovation (CAWRI) and became its inaugural director. He took over the position of Director for Virginia Tech Water/Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators Short School, a professional training programme. In 2020 Jason started a new position as professor at the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis.

2018 Editor in Chief for Water Environment Research (WER) and a Co-Editor in Chief for Environment International (EI)
2017 President for Chinese-American Professors in Environmental Engineering and Science (CAPEES)
2013 Member of the Research and Innovation Committee and Associate Editor for Water Environment Research, Water Environment Federation

CV as submitted for the Green Talents award (2010):

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States of America

Research focus: bioenergy recovery from wastewater

Dr Hes academic career has taken him around the world, starting in his native China where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree at the prestigious Tongji University in Shanghai, before moving to Europe for a Masters Degree from the Technical University of Denmark.

He then moved to the United States where he completed a Doctorate in Environmental Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. After a 2-year postdoctoral training at the University of Southern California, in 2009, Dr He joined the Department of Civil Engineering & Mechanics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as an assistant professor.

His current research interests are biological wastewater treatment, sustainable seawater desalination, and bioenergy production through bio-electrochemical systems such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and microbial desalination cells (MDCs). MFCs convert chemical energy to electrical energy using the catalytic reaction of microorganisms. MFCs can generate electricity from almost any kind of organic matter so they can run on things like wastewater. The potential is obvious: Using MFCs in a wastewater treatment facility makes it possible to break down the organic waste while generating clean energy efficiently at the same time. MDCs are based on the same principle and use the energy generated by the microorganisms to desalinate water. This could potentially make them a sustainable alternative to today’s energy-intensive desalination technology. Dr Hes research has already resulted in numerous publications, patent applications and collaborations with academic and industry partners.

As part of the Green Talents Forum, Dr He is looking forward to visiting Germanys leading research institutions and industrial research facilities. “This will provide invaluable opportunities for face-to-face communication with German scientists and researchers,” he says. “I am eager to experience the cutting-edge technologies and concepts developed in Germany and to share our research findings with our peers.”