Yuehan Lu

Associate Professor


  • PhD, Oceanography/ Marine Geochemistry, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, December 2008
  • MS, Environmental Sciences, Zhejiang University, China, July 2003
  • BS, Geology/Geochemistry, Zhejiang University, China, July 2000
  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, College of William and Mary, 2008-2010

Research Areas

  • Energy
  • Environmental Geochemistry, Biogeochemistry and Hydrochemistry
  • Hydrogeology, Hydrology, and Hydrometeorology
  • Paleontology, Paleoclimatology, and Paleoecology


Research Interests

  1. Biogeochemical cycling of natural organic matter in contemporary and paleo-ecosystems, with a particular focus on understanding interactions between human activities and natural cycles of organic matter;
  2. Human impacts on water quality, with current projects including:
    1. organic and inorganic nutrient exports from agricultural watersheds
    2.  fingerprinting organic matter in streams to determine the impacts of septic effluents on surface waters
    3. impacts of coal mining on groundwater quality in China
  3. Water quality-quantity connectivity, such as watershed exports of dissolved organic matter and inorganic nutrients during storm events;
  4. Terrestrial-aquatic linkages through organic matter;
  5. Biomarker records of mass extinctions recorded in Late Devonian black shales.

Among the most common tools include: 1) biomarkers, i.e., source-specific and resistant organic molecules that can record environmental and ecological processes over geological time scales, 2) stable and radiogenic isotopes (13C, 14C, 15N), 3) optical properties of organic matter (three dimensional fluorescence, absorption); and 4) ultra-high resolution FTICR-MS analysis.

Research Group Members

Current Students

  • Man Lu (PhD student, Fall 2015- present) “Wildfires during the Late Devonian recorded in black shales”
  • Shuo Chen (PhD student, Fall 2016-present) “Effects of extreme climatic events on terrestrial-aquatic biogeochemical connectivity”
  • Olivia Warren (MS student, Fall 2017-present) “Geochemical tracers of water sources in glacier-fed rivers in Tibet”
  • Jian Chen (PhD student, Fall 2018-present) “Paleoenvironmental reconstructions from the Late Devonian black shales ”
  • Mary Puckett (MS student, Fall 2018-present, co-advised with Dr. Yong Zhang) “Kinentics of nutrients and heavy metals moving in streams within and across spatial scales”

Previous Team Members

  • Zachary Stephens (Undergraduate researcher, 2015 – 2017) “Storm mobilization of carbon and nitrogen  within a forested watershed”
  • Siera Jann (Undergraduate researcher, 2015 – 2017) “Fossil reptile or plant remains? Mysterious organic matter from the Jurassic Morrison Formation of Western Colorado”
  • Yue Hu (PhD 2017, Peking University, China) “Watershed exports of organic matter in a large agricultural basin in arid northwestern China”
  • Daniel Fields (MS 2013, University of Alabama) “Hydrocarbon degradation in coastal oceans” now Geologist at Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM)
  • Xiaping Li (MS 2014, University of Alabama) “High-resolution molecular characterizations of stream water DOM in forested and agricultural watersheds”
  • Connor Kirkland (undergraduate researcher, 2015 – present) “Dissolved organic matter in ponds across an age spectrum”
  • Peng Shang (PhD, 2019) “Watershed and hydrological controls of organic matter and nutrients in lotic ecosystems”

Visiting Professors

  • Dr. Wenli Zhong (June 2015 to June 2016; from College of Earth Sciences, Chengdu University of Science and Technology, China) “Geomorphological controls on the amount and quality of dissolved organic matter in an unregulated river, Alabama”
  • Dr. Fengxia Liu (October 2016 to October 2017; from Dalian University of Science and Technology, China) “Dissolved organic matter composition and quality in Alaska aquifers”

Other Experiences

  • NOAA Summer Fellow, NOAA Great Lakes Enviromental Research Laboratory, 2006 (Fish Ecology)  & 2007 (Ecotoxicology)
  • Integrated Ocean Drilling Expedition 333 Shipboard Scientist in Organic Geochemistry, Dec 2010-Jan 2011
  • Chief Scientist Training Cruise, UNOLS, July 2011
  • Guest Investigator, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, 2017-2018
  • Editorial Board member for American Chemical Society Earth and Space Chemistry

Courses Taught

Introductory Courses

  • Geo 105: Sustainable Earth
  • Geo 103: Introduction to Oceanography

Advanced Courses

  • GEO 525: Advanced Environmental Geochemistry
  • GEO 525: Organic Geochemistry
  • GEO 525: Organic Geochemistry Methods
  • GEO 525: Global Biogeochemical Cycles
  • GEO 525: Biogeochemistry
  • GEO 525: Watershed Studies
  • GEO 436/536/636: Geology Seminar

Courses developed and taught at the College of William & Mary (2009-2010)

  • ENSP 440-007: Environmental Quality Assessment
  • ENSP 440: Selected Topics in Studies of Environmental Pollution and Ecosystem Health

Selected Publications

*Student advisee

  • MS Sankar, Padmanava Dash, YueHan Lu, Varun Paul, Andrew E Mercer, Zikri Arslan, Jac J Varco, John C Rodgers (2019) Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, in press
  • Caitlyn A. Griffith, Peng Shang*, YueHan Lu, Ethan J. Theuerkauf, Antonio B. Rodriguez, and Robert H. Findlay (2019) Agricultural Land Use Impacts Microbial Community Structure of Streambed Sediments. Aquatic Microbial Ecology, in press
  • Montiel D., A.  Lamore, J. Stewart, W. J. Lambert, J. Honeck, Y. H. Lu, O. Warren*, D. Adyasari, N. Moosdorf, and N. Dimova. Natural groundwater nutrient fluxes exceed anthropogenic inputs in an ecologically impacted estuary: lessons learned from Mobile Bay, Alabama, Biogeochemistry (in press).
  • Shuo Chen*, YueHan Lu, Padmanava Dash, Parnab Das, Jianwei Li, Krista Capps, Hamed Majidzadeh, Mark Elliott (2019) Hurricane pulses: Small watershed exports of dissolved nutrients and organic matter during large storms in the Southeastern USA. Science of The Total Environment, 689, 232-244
  • Man Lu*, YueHan Lu, Takehito Ikejiri, Nicholas Hogancamp, Yongge Sun, Qihang Wu, Richard Carroll, Ibrahim Cemen, Jack Pashin (2019) Geochemical Evidence of First Forestation in the Southernmost Euramerica from Upper Devonian (Famennian) Black Shales. Scientific Reports, 9, 7581,
  • Mary Hastings Puckett*, Yong Zhang, Bingqing Lu, YueHan Lu, HongGuang Sun, Chunmiao Zheng, Wei Wei (2019) Application of fractional differential equation to interpret the dynamics of dissolved heavy-metal uptake in streams at a wide range of scales. The European Physical Journal Plus, 134: 377
  • Carla L. Atkinson, Brian C. van Ee, YueHan Lu, Wenli Zhong (2019) Wetland floodplain flux: Temporal and spatial availability of organic matter and dissolved nutrients in an unmodified river. Biogeochemistry, 142 (3): 395-411;
  • Piao Yao, Bin Zhou, YueHan Lu, Yong Yin, YongQiang Zong, Min-Te Chen, Zachary O’Donnell* (2019) A review of microplastics in sediments: Spatial and temporal occurrences, biological effects, and analytic methods.  Quaternary International DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2019.03.028
  • Qihang Wu, Zhineng Liu, Junyan Liang, Dave T.F. Kuo, Shejun Chen, Bixian Mai, Xiaodong Hu, Tangfu Xiao, Yongheng Chen, Mingjun Deng, Haozhi Zhang, YueHan Lu (corresponding author) (2019) Assessing pollution and risk of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in sewage sludge from wastewater treatment plants in China’s top coal-producing region. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 191 : 102.
  • Sankar, M.S., P. Dash, S. Singh, Y. H. Lu, A. E. Mercer, S. Chen* (2019) Effect of photo-biodegradation and biodegradation on the biogeochemical cycling of dissolved organic matter across diverse surface water bodies. Journal of Environmental Sciences 77, 130-147
  • Sujay, S. K. ,  A. J. Gold, S. Bernal,  Tammy A. Newcomer Johnson, , Kelly Addy, Amy Burgin, , Douglas A. Burns,  Ashley A. Coble,  Eran Hood,  YueHan Lu,  Paul Mayer, Elizabeth C. Minor, Andrew W. Schroth, Philippe Vidon, Henry Wilson, Marguerite A. Xenopoulos, Thomas Doody, Joseph Galella, ,Phillip Goodling,  Katherine Haviland, , Shahan Haq,  Barret Wessel,  Kelsey Wood , Norbert Jaworski, and Kenneth T. Belt (2018) Watershed ‘Chemical Cocktails’: Forming Novel Elemental Combinations in Anthropocene Fresh Waters. Biogeochemistry, 141 (3), 281-305
  • Singh, S., Padmanava Dash, Sankar M. S., Saurav Silwal, YueHan Lu, Peng Shang*, Robert J. Moorhead (2018) Hydrological and Biogeochemical Controls of Seasonality in Dissolved Organic Matter Delivery to a Blackwater Estuary.  Estuaries and Coasts,
  • Wollheim, W.M. , Susana Bernal, DA Burns, JA Czuba, CT Driscoll, AT Hansen, RT Hensley, JD Hosen, S Inamdar, SS Kaushal, LE Koenig, YH Lu, A Marzadri, PA Raymond, D Scott, RJ Stewart, PG Vidon, E Wohl (2018) River network saturation concept: factors influencing the balance of biogeochemical supply and demand of river networks, Biogeochemistry 141 (3), 503-521,DOI:
  • Qian J, Y. Peng, W. Zhao, L. Ma, X. He*, Y.H. Lu (2018) Hydrochemical processes and evolution of karst groundwater in the northeastern Huaibei Plain, China. Hydrogeology Journal, Volume 26, Issue 5, pp 1721–1729.
  • He X, J. Qian, Z. Liu, Y. H. Lu, L. Ma, W. Zhao, K. Bo (2017) Temporal-spatial evolution of groundwater nitrogen pollution over seven years in a highly urbanized city in the southern China. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology DOI : 10.1007/s00128-017-2187-2
  • Shang P*, Y. H. Lu, Y. Du, R. Jaffé, R. H. Findlay, A. Wynn (2017) Climatic and watershed controls of dissolved organic matter variation in streams across a gradient of agricultural land use. Science of the Total Environment  612C  pp. 1442-1453
  • Hu, Y. *, Y. H. Lu, C. Liu, P. Shang*, J. Liu, C. Zheng (2017) Sources and dynamics of dissolved inorganic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous in a large agricultural river basin in arid northwestern China. Water 20179(6), 415; doi:10.3390/w9060415
  • Buesseler, K .O., ….Y.H. Lu… (25 authors in total) (2017) Pump it Up workshop report, DOI: 10.1575/1912/9328
  • Hu, Y. * , Y. H. Lu, J. W. Edmonds , C. Liu , S. Wang , O. Das , J. Liu , C. Zheng (2016) Hydrological and Land Use Control of Watershed Exports of DOM in a Large Arid River Basin in Northwestern China, Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences DOI: 10.1002/2015JG003082
  • Zhang Y., D. Chen, R. Garrard, H. G. Sun, Y. H. Lu (2016) Influence of bed clusters and size gradation on operational time distribution for non-uniform bed-load transport. Hydrological Processes (30): 3030-3045
  • Qian J., L. Wang L, L. Ma, Y. H.  Lu (corresponding author), W. Zhao, Y. Zhang (2016) Multivariate statistical analysis of water chemistry in evaluating groundwater geochemical evolution and aquifer connectivity near a large coal mine, Anhui, China. Environmental Earth Sciences  (2016) 75: 747.
  • Lu, Y. H., X. Li*, R. Mesfioui, J.E. Bauer, R. M. Chambers, E. A. Canuel, P. G. Hatcher (2015) Use of ESI-FTICR-MS to Characterize Dissolved Organic Matter in Headwater Streams Draining Forest-dominated and Pasture-dominated Watersheds, PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145639
  • Qian, J., Y. Wu, Y. Zhang, Y. L, Y. H. Lu, Z. Yu (2015) Evaluating Differences in Transport Behavior of Sodium Chloride and Brilliant Blue FCF in Sand Columns. Transport in Porous Media DOI: 10.1007/s11242-015-0551-4
  • Lu, Y. H., J. W. Edmonds, Y. Yamashita, B. Zhou, A Jaegge*, M. Baxley (2015) Spatial variation in the origin and reactivity of dissolved organic matter in Oregon-Washington coastal waters. Ocean Dynamics 65, Issue 1 (2015), Page 17-32; DOI: 10.1007/s10236-014-0793-7
  • Ortmann A. C., and Y. H. Lu (2015) Initial community and environment determine the response of bacterial communities to dispersant and oil contamination. Marine Pollution Bulletin 90, 106-114; DOI: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2014.11.013
  • Hu, Y.*, C. Liu, Y. H. Lu, J. Liu, C. Zheng (2014) Environmental isotopes as tracers of hydrological processes in the Heihe River Basin Advances in Earth Sciences  29 (10): 1158-1166  (in Chinese with English abstract)
  • Fields, D. J.*, Y. H. Lu, R. J. Donahoe (2014) A laboratory microcosm study of the degradation of Macondo oil in a coastal salt marsh. GCAGS journal vol 3, 61-68
  • Lu, Y. H., P. A. Meyers, J. A. Robbins, B. J. Eadie, N. Hawley, K. H. Ji (2014) Sensitivity of sediment geochemical proxies to coring Location and corer type in a large lake: implications for paleolimnological reconstruction. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems  DOI:10.1002/2013GC004989
  • Lu, Y. H., J. E. Bauer, E. A. Canuel, R. M. Chambers, Y. Yamashita, R. Jaffé, A. Barrett (2014) Effects of land use on sources and ages of inorganic and organic carbon in temperate headwater streams. Biogeochemistry 119: 275-292, DOI: 10.1007/s10533-014-9965-2
  • Lu, Y. H., E. A. Canuel, J. E. Bauer, R.M. Chambers (2014). Effects of watershed land use on sources and nutritional value of particulate organic matter in temperate headwater streams. Aquatic Sciences 76: 419–436, DOI: 10.1007/s00027-014-0344-9
  • Lu, Y. H., J. E. Bauer, E. A. Canuel, Y. Yamashita, R. M. Chambers, R. Jaffé (2013) Photochemical and microbial alteration of dissolved organic matter in temperature headwater streams associated with different land use. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 118: 566–580, DOI:10.1002/jgrg.20048, 2013. (selected by editors for being featured in AGU research spotlight and EOS)
  • Wei, G., L. Xie, Y. Sun, Y. H. Lu, Y. Liu. (2012) Major and trace elements of a peat core from Yunnan, Southwest China: implications for paleoclimatic proxies. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 58:64–77
  • Zhou, B., H. Zheng, W. Yang, D. Taylor, Y. H. Lu, G. Wei, L. Li, H. Wang. (2012) Climate and vegetation variations since the LGM recorded by biomarkers from a sediment core in Northern South China Sea. Journal of Quaternary Science 27: 948-955
  • Henry, P., et al., and IODP Expedition 333 Scientific Party (2012) IODP Expedition 333: Return to Nankai Trough Subduction Inputs Sites and Coring of Mass Transport Deposits. Scientific Drilling, No. 14, September 2012, doi:10.2204/
  • Marcailloua, B., P. et al. and IODP Expedition 333 Scientific Party (2012) Seismogenic zone temperatures and heat-flow anomalies in the To-nankai margin segment based on temperature data from IODP expedition 333 and thermal model. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 349: 171–185.
  • Strasser, M., P. et al. and IODP Expedition 333 Scientific Party (2012) Scientific Drilling of Mass-Transport Deposits in the Nankai accretionary wedge: First Results from IODP Expedition 333. In: Y. Yamada et al., (eds.) Submarine Mass movements and their consequences: Advances in Natural and Technological Hazard Research 31: 671–681, doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2162-3_60.
  • IODP Expedition 333 Scientific Party (2011) Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Expedition 333 Report: NanTroSEIZE Stage 2.
  • Lu,Y. H., P. A. Meyers, B. J. Eadie, J. A. Robbins, H. Han (2010) δ15N values in Lake Erie sediments: indicators of nitrogen biogeochemical dynamics during lake eutrophication. Chemical Geology 273: 1–7
  • Lu, Y. H., P. A Meyers, B. J. Eadie, J. A. Robbins (2010) Carbon cycling in Lake Erie during cultural eutrophication over the last century inferred from the stable carbon isotope composition of sediments. Journal of Paleolimnology 43:261–272, doi: 10.1007/s10933-009-9330-y
  • Lu, Y. H., P. A Meyers (2009) Sediment lipid biomarkers as recorders of the contamination and cultural eutrophication of Lake Erie, 1909-2003. Organic Geochemistry 40: 912–921
  • Lu,Y. H., S. Ludsin, D. Fanslow, S. Pothoven (2008) Comparison of three micro-quantity techniques for measuring total lipids in fish. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 65: 2233–2241 (this work cited in Cyberlipid) (this work cited in OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) guidelines for the testing of  chemicals
  • Lu, Y. H., Y. Sun, H. Weng (2004) Lacustrine sediments as a record of changes of regional climate and environment. Geochimica 33:20–28.