2023-2024: Hydrology: Yan Zheng

Yan Zheng 
Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech)


Dr. Yan Zheng became a Chair Professor at Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), in Shenzhen, China in 2016. 

Her multi-disciplinary research contributed to the reduction of exposure to arsenic among private well households in Bangladesh, China and USA. She has published extensively in geochemistry, hydrogeology, environmental health and policy. She obtained her PhD from Columbia University in 1999. Between 1998 and 2016, she held tenured faculty and administrative appointments at the City University of New York and research appointments at Columbia University. She was a water and sanitation specialist with UNICEF Bangladesh between 2009 and 2011. Currently, she serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Environmental Earth Sciences, and as a Co-Chair for the International Association of Hydrogeologists – Managing Aquifer Recharge Commission. 

Professor Zheng was elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America in 2010, and a fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2021.

Abstract: The Story of Groundwater: Think Globally, Act Locally.

In the global groundwater statement, concerned scientists and practitioners have called for action to ensure that groundwater benefits society now and into the future. Groundwater is the drinking water source for more than two billion people. Most are rural residents relying on domestic wells. Groundwater provides more than 40% of the water for irrigated agriculture worldwide. It is thus critical for food security and provides resilience against drought. However, the sustainability of groundwater is threatened by overexploitation and by pollution from both new and old chemical and biological hazards. How can you tell the clear looking and good tasting well water that your family has been using for many years is safe to drink? Will you need to “top up” groundwater if you pump it from a well to irrigate your farm? Through stories of how people, as individuals or as a community, dealt with various aspects of decidedly local and very often personal groundwater challenges, this talk seeks to demonstrate the creativity in our society and individuals to safeguard groundwater sustainability. The story of groundwater is the one for which “think globally, act locally” truly matters.