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Fundamental and Computational Sciences Directorate

Staff information


Liyuan Liang

Earth & Biological Sciences
Division Director
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
PO Box 999
MSIN: K8-84
Richland, WA 99352


Dr. Liang is the director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, or EMSL, at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. EMSL is national scientific user facility funded and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Biological & Environmental Research. Dr. Liang leads EMSL in growing its reputation as a premier scientific user facility. She sets the scientific vision to attract outstanding staff scientists and users of EMSL facilities and programs, promotes innovative research, and fosters the creation of robust scientific teams and communities. More than 750 scientists from around the world use expertise and capabilities at EMSL each year to address the nation's most critical biological, environmental and energy challenges. EMSL has more than 160 staff members.

Dr. Liang's professional experience includes environmental science and technology with international experience at national laboratory and higher education institutions in the US and UK. Her skill set includes fundamental science, leadership, R&D management and strategic planning. Prior to joining PNNL, Dr. Liang was director of the Office of Institutional Planning & ARPA-E Programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she led ORNL's strategic planning processes.

Research Interests

  • Elemental cycling at aquatic and sediment environments
  • Biological and chemical transformation of mercury
  • Geochemical and interfacial processes
  • Remediation technologies for soil and groundwater
  • Aqueous chemical speciation and surface chemical reactions
  • Fate of nanoparticles in natural water/sediment environments

Education and Credentials

  • Ph.D. - California Institute of Technology, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
  • M.S. - California Institute of Technology, Department of Environmental Science and Engineering
  • B.S. - Northeastern University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Selected Publications


  • Hu E, Y Zhang, S Wu, J Wu, L Liang, and F He. 2017. "Role of dissolved Mn(III) in transformation of organic contaminants: non-oxidative versus oxidative mechanisms." Water Resources. (in press)
  • Luo HW, XP Yin, AM Jubb, HM Chen, X Lu, WH Zhang, H Lin, HQ Yu, L Liang, GP Sheng, and BH Gu. 2017. "Photochemical reactions between mercury (Hg) and dissolved organic matter decrease Hg bioavailability and methylation." Environmental Pollution 220: 1359-1365. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.10.099


  • Yang Z, W Fang, X Lu, G-P Sheng, DE Graham, L Liang, SD Wullschleger, and B Gu. 2016. "Warming increases methylmercury production in an Arctic soil." Environmental Pollution 214:504-509. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2016.04.069

  • Lu X, Y Liu, A Johs, L Zhao, T Wang, Z Yang, H Lin, DA Elias, EM Pierce, L Liang, T Barkay, and B Gu. 2016. "Anaerobic Mercury Methylation and Demethylation by Geobacter bemidjiensis Bem." Environmental Science & Technology 50 (8), pp 4366-4373. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.6b00401
  • Ziming Y, SD Wullschleger, L Liang, DE Graham, and B Gu, 2016. "Effects of warming on the degradation and production of low molecular-weight labile organic carbon in an Arctic tundra soil." Soil Biology & Biochemistry 95: 202-211. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.12.022


  • Chowdhury TR, EM Herndon, TJ Phelps, DA Elias, B Gu, L Liang, SD Wullschleger, and DE Graham. 2015. "Stoichiometry and temperature sensitivity of methanogenesis and CO2 production from saturated polygonal tundra in Barrow, Alaska." Global Change Biology 21:722-737. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12762
  • Gao J, W Wang,  AJ Rondinone,  F He,  and L Liang, . 2015. "Degradation of Trichloroethene with a Novel Ball Milled Fe-C Nanocomposite." Journal of Hazardous Materials 300:443-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2015.07.038
  • He F, J Gao, E Pierce, PJ Strong, HL Wang, and L Liang. 2015. "In situ remediation technologies for mercury-contaminated soil." Environmental Science and Pollution Research 22(11), 8124-8147. doi: 10.1007/s11356-015-4316-y
  • He F, W Zhao, L Liang, and B Gu. 2015. "Photochemical oxidation of dissolved elemental mercury by carbonate radicals in water." Environmental Sciences & Technology Letters 1 (12), pp 499-503. doi: 10.1021/ez500322f
  • Herndon EM, BF Mann, TR Chowdhury, Z Yang, SD Wullschleger, D Graham, L Liang, and B Gu. 2015. "Pathways of anaerobic organic matter decomposition in tundra soils from Barrow, Alaska." Journal of Geophysical Research, Biogeosciences 120, 2345-2359. doi:10.1002/2015JG003147
  • Lin H, X Lu, L Liang, and B Gu. 2015. "Cysteine Inhibits Mercury Methylation by Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA Mutant Delta omcBESTZ." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2(5): 144-148. doi: 10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00068
  • Lin H, X Lu, L Liang, and B Gu. 2015. "Thiol-Facilitated Cell Export and Desorption of Methylmercury by Anaerobic Bacteria." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 2 (10), pp 292-296. doi: 10.1021/acs.estlett.5b00209
  • Mann BF, HM Chen, EM Herndon, RK Chu, N Tolic, EF Portier, TR Chowdhury, EW Robinson, SJ Callister, SD Wullschleger, DE Graham, L Liang, and B Gu. 2015. "Indexing Permafrost Soil Organic Matter Degradation Using High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry." PLoS ONE 10(6). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130557
  • Miller C, D Watson, B Lester, J Howe, D Phillips, F He, L Liang, and E Pierce. 2015. "Formation of soluble mercury oxide coatings: transformation of elemental mercury in soils." Environmental Science & Technology 49 (20), pp 12105-12111. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b00263
  • Newman BD, HM Throckmorton, DE Graham, B Gu, SS Hubbard, L Liang, Y Wu, JM Heikoop, EM Herndon, TJ Phelps, CJ Wilson, SD Wullschleger. 2015. "Microtopographic and depth controls on active layer chemistry in Arctic polygonal ground." Geophysical Research Letters 42(6): 1808-1817. doi: 10.1002/2014GL062804
  • Watson D, C Miller, B Lester, K Lowe, G Southworth, MA Bogle, L Liang, and E Pierce. 2015. "Mercury source zone identification using soil vapor sampling and analysis." Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering 9(4), 596- 604. doi: 10.1007/s11783-014-0709-2


  • Edwards MJ, NA Baiden A Johs, SJ Tomanicek, L Liang, L Shi, JK Fredrickson,JM  Zachara, AJ Gates, JN Butt, DJ Richardson, and TA Clarke. 2014. "The X-ray crystal structure of Shewanella oneidensis OmcA reveals new insight at the microbe-mineral interface." FEBS Letters 588(10):1886-90. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2014.04.013
  • Gu B, B Mishra, C Miller, W Wang, B Lai, SC Brooks, KM Kemner, and L Liang, 2014. "X-ray fluorescence mapping of mercury on suspended mineral particles and diatoms in a contaminated freshwater system." Biogeosciences 11(11): 7521-7540. doi: 10.5194/bg-11-1-2014
  • He F, W Zhao, L Liang, and B Gu. 2014. "Photochemical oxidation of dissolved elemental mercury by carbonate radicals in water." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 1 (12), pp 499-503. doi: 10.1021/ez500322f
  • Hong L, MA Sharp, S Poblete, R Biehl, M Zamponi, N Szekely, M-S Appavou, RG Winkler, RE Nauss, A Johs, JM Parks, Z Yi, X Cheng, L Liang, M Ohl, SM Miller, D Richter, G Gompper, and JC Smith, 2014. "Structure and Dynamics of a Compact State of a Multidomain Protein, the Mercuric Ion Reductase." Biophysical Journal 107(2): 393-400. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2014.06.013
  • Lin H, JL Morrell-Falvey, B Rao, L Liang, and B Gu. 2014. "Coupled mercury-cell sorption, reduction, and oxidation on methylmercury production by Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA." Environmental Science & Technology 48:11969-11976. doi: 10.1021/es502537a
  • Lin H, RA Hurt Jr., A Johs, JM Parks, JL Morrell-Falvey, L Liang, DA Elias, and B Gu, 2014. "Unexpected effects of gene deletion on mercury interactions with the methylation-deficient mutant ΔhgcAB." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 1 (5), pp 271-276. doi: 10.1021/ez500107r
  • Qian Y, X Yin, H Lin, B Rao, SC Brooks, L Liang, and B Gu. 2014. "Why Dissolved Organic Matter Enhances Photodegradation of Methylmercury." Environmental Science & Technology Letters 1 (10), pp 426-431, doi: 10.1021/ez500254z
  • Rao B, C Simpson, H Lin, L Liang, and B Gu. 2014. "Determination of thiol functional groups on bacteria and natural organic matter in environmental systems." Talanta 119: 240-247. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2013.11.004
  • Riding R, L Liang, and JC Braga. 2014. "Millennial-scale ocean acidification and late Quaternary decline of cryptic bacterial crusts in tropical reefs." Geobiology 12 (5):387-405. doi: 10.1111/gbi.12097
  • Riding R, P Fralick, and L Liang, 2014. "Identification of an Archean marine oxygen oasis." Precambrian Research 251 (2014) 232-237.


  • Zheng W, H Lin, BF Mann, L Liang, and B Gu, B. 2013. "Oxidation of Dissolved Elemental Mercury by Thiol Compounds under Anoxic Conditions." Environmental Science & Technology 47 (22): 12827-12834. doi: 10.1021/es402697u

  • Hu H, H Lin, W Zheng, B Rao, X Feng, L Liang, D A Elias, and B Gu. 2013. "Mercury reduction and cell-surface adsorption by Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA." Environmental Science & Technology 47(19): 10922-10930.
  • Hu H, H Lin, W Zheng, SJ Tomanicek, A Johs, X Feng, DA Elias, L Liang, and B Gu. "Oxidation and methylation of dissolved elemental mercury by anaerobic bacteria." Nature Geoscience. doi: 10.1038/NGEO189
  • Miller CL, DB Watson, BP Lester, KA Lowe, EM Pierce, and L Liang. 2013. "Characterization of soils from an industrial complex contaminated with elemental mercury." Environmental Research 125:20-29. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2013.03.013
  • Parks JM, A Johs, M Podar, R Bridou, RA Hurt, SD Smith, SJ Tomanicek, Y Qian, SD Brown, CC Brandt, AV Palumbo, JC Smith, JD Wall, DA Elias, and L Liang. 2013. "The genetic basis for bacterial mercury methylation." Science 339(6125):1332-1335. doi: 10.1126/science.1230667
  • Riccardi D, H-B Guo, JM Parks, B Gu, L Liang, and JC Smith. 2013. "Cluster-Continuum Calculations of Hydration Free Energies of Anions and Group 12 Divalent Cations." Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 9 (1), pp 555-569. doi: 10.1021/ct300296k
  • Riccardi D, HB Guo, JM Parks, BH Gu, AO Summers,  SM Miller, L Liang, and JC Smith. 2013. "Why Mercury Prefers Soft Ligands." Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 4: (14): 2317-2322. doi: 10.1021/jz401075b

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