College of Arts and Sciences

OU Professor Ziming Yang receives prestigious NSF CAREER award

icon of a calendarMarch 3, 2021

Share this story

OU Professor Ziming Yang receives prestigious NSF CAREER award
Ziming Yang
Dr. Ziming Yang, assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Oakland University

Dr. Ziming Yang, an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Oakland University, has received a five-year, $600,000 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in support of his research on organic carbon and nitrogen transformations in hydrothermal systems.

“Hydrothermal systems are widely distributed at the Earth’s seafloor and provide a unique habitat for the deep biosphere,” Yang said. “The living organisms that survive in the deep ocean rely on the food and energy sources coming from the deep organic matter, which also controls the oceanic carbon and nitrogen cycles. What we are trying to understand are the uncovered pathways and fundamental mechanisms of those hydrothermal organic transformations, which are expected to be quite different from what we learned from conventional organic chemistry textbooks.

According to Yang, the project will integrate interdisciplinary knowledge and tools from chemistry, geology, and ocean science, to help address important questions in deep carbon cycle, prebiotic synthesis, and early life on Earth.

“Another exciting component of this project is to develop new sustainable approaches of using Earth-abundant materials such as rocks and minerals as green catalysts or reagents for chemical synthesis, which have great potential to address current challenges in industry, green chemistry, and sustainability,” Yang said.

In addition, the project will provide research opportunities for both graduate and undergraduate students, including underrepresented groups through the current programs in the Department of Chemistry. It will also contribute to the development of a new graduate program in environmental science and geoscience at OU that fills identified needs at both the departmental and the university level.

“Receiving this NSF CAREER Award means a lot to me and my hard-working students,” Yang said. “This award will allow us to further explore the exciting and cutting-edge research emerging from the integration between geoscience and chemistry, and I am really looking forward to pursuing this project and sharing our new findings with both local and wide scientific communities in the next five years.”

The NSF CAREER Award is part of the NSF’s Faculty Early Career Development Program, which recognizes early-career faculty members who have demonstrated the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education, and to lead advances in the mission or their department or organization. It is considered one of the NSF’s most prestigious awards.

For more information, visit

Share this story