Research Focus in Liu Lab

Marine Organic Geochemistry/Environmental Analytical Chemistry

I am mainly interested in understanding the source, distribution and diagenesis of biogenic compounds in the ocean. Most biogenic compounds are produced in the surface ocean through photosynthesis, and they are subsequently subject to different biogeochemical processes. For example, some are degraded or modified by bacteria or zooplankton; some are preserved in a long time scale by interaction with minerals. Elucidating these processes can not only help us to better understand global carbon cycle, but also provide valuable information for paleoceanography and paleoclimate studies.

I am also interested in understanding the geochemical behaviors of anthropogenic compounds in the environment, including petroleum hydrocarbons, persistent organic contaminants, and microplastics. I use both field work and laboratory experiments to evaluate their source, transformation, and fate in the environment.

Measuring organic compounds in environmental samples must involve different analytical instruments. My research mainly involves GC, LC, MS, and NMR, either applying established protocols or developing new analytical methods. In addition, I use compounds labeled with stable-isotopes, such as 13C and 15N, to trace their fates and pathways in the environment.