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The University of Texas
Marine Science Institute
750 Channel View Drive
Port Aransas, TX 78373
Phone: 361-749-6711

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Zhanfei Liu

Associate Professor
Department of Marine Science

Marine Organic Geochemistry, Environmental Analytical Chemistry


Phone: 361-749-6772

Office Location

Ph.D., Coastal Oceanography, Stony Brook University (2006) 
M.S., Environmental Science and Engineering, Xiamen University, China (2000)
B.S., Chemical Oceanography, Xiamen University, China (1997) 

Research Interests

Marine Organic Geochemistry/Environmental Analytical Chemistry

Behavior and distribution of biogenic organic compounds in the ocean; biogeochemistry of marine particles including suspended and sinking particles; Geochemistry of proteins and peptides; sorption and degradation of biogenic and anthropogenic compounds in sediments and soils; advanced analytical techniques including liquid chromatography (LC), gas chromatography (GC), mass spectrometry (MS), and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR); algae to biodiesel.

I am mainly interested in 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.

Measuring biogenic 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 radio- or stable-isotopes, such as 14C, 13C and 15N, to trace their fates and pathways in the environment.

Selected Publications

Liu Z., J.K. Cochran, C. Lee, B. Gasser, J.C. Miquel, and S.G. Wakeham. 2009. Further investigations on why POC concentrations differ in samples collected by Niskin bottle and in situ pump. Deep-Sea Research II 56:1558-1567.

Engel A., L. Abramson, J. Szlosek, Z. Liu, G. Stewart, D. Hirschberg, and C. Lee. 2009. Investigating the effect of ballasting by CaCO3 in Emiliania huxleyi: II. Decomposition of particulate organic matter. Deep-Sea Research II 56:1408-1419.

Wakeham S.G., C. Lee, M.L. Peterson, Z. Liu, J. Szlosek, I. Putnam, and J. Xue. 2009. Organic compound composition and fluxes in the Twilight Zone - time series and settling velocity sediment traps during MEDFLUX. Deep-Sea Research II 56:1437-1453.

Liu Z., J. Mao, C. Lee, S. Wakeham, M. Peterson, and P. Hatcher. 2009. Characterization of sinking particles using advanced solid-state NMR, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73:1014-1026.

Liu Z., C. Lee, and R.C. Aller. 2008. Decomposition of salt marsh sediment and its effect on lysine sorption, Journal of Marine Research 66:665-689.

Sleighter R.L., G.A. McKee, Z. Liu, and P.G. Hatcher. 2008. Naturally present fatty acids as internal calibrants for Fourier transform mass spectra of dissolved organic matter. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods 6:246-253.

Goutx M., S.G. Wakeham, C. Lee, M. Duflos, C. Guigue, Z. Liu, B. Moriceau, R. Sempere, M. Tedetti, and J. Xue. 2007. Composition and degradation of marine particles with different settling velocities in the Northwestern Mediterranean sea. Limnology and Oceanography 52:1645-1664.

Liu Z. and C. Lee. 2007. The role of organic matter in the sorption capacity of marine sediments. Marine Chemistry 105:240-257.

Liu Z. and C. Lee. 2006. Drying effects on sorption capacity of coastal sediment: the importance of architecture and polarity of organic matter. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 70:3313-3324.

Liu Z., C. Lee, and S.G. Wakeham. 2006. Effects of mercuric chloride and protease inhibitor on degradation of particulate organic matter from a diatom. Organic Geochemistry 37:1003-1018.

Ingalls, A.E., Z. Liu, and C. Lee. 2006. Seasonal and latitudinal trends in source and diagenesis of sinking particles in the Pacific sector of the Southern Ocean: insights from amino acids, pigments and opal-bound amino acids. Deep-Sea Research I 53:836-859.

Liu Z., G.M. Stewart, J.K. Cochran, C. Lee, R. Armstrong, D. Hirschberg, B. Gasser, and J.-C. Miquel. 2005. Why do POC concentrations measured using Niskin bottle collections sometimes differ from those using in situ pumps? Deep-Sea Research I 52:1324-1344.