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Yang Deng Named University Distinguished Scholar

Professor will receive one-semester leave to pursue research in sustainable water solutions

Posted in: Homepage News, Research, Science and Technology, University

Yang Deng, 2020-2021 Montclair State University Distinguished Scholar

Water is at the center of everything we do.

We drink it, cook with it and rely on it in countless other ways each day in every corner of the world.

It is our most precious resource, yet much of the world’s supply is unsuitable for use due to pollution and contamination.

For Professor of Earth and Environmental Studies Yang Deng, creating solutions to the Earth’s water challenges – solutions that are affordable and, most importantly, sustainable – has grown from a passion into his life’s work. And now, as the new University Distinguished Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic year, he and his research team will have the chance to create new solutions for both New Jersey and beyond.

“I’m grateful to Montclair State University for giving me the opportunity to pursue my research in this fashion,” says Deng. “Creating cost-effective ways to yield usable water is for the good of public health. Developing value-added products that can be sustained will mean more usable water for all.”

An environmental engineer, Deng’s expertise centers on the development of innovative and sustainable technologies to clean wastewater, stormwater runoff, and landfill leachate in order to protect drinking water and groundwater supplies from toxic metals, organic pollutants, water-borne pathogens, and excess nutrients.

During his time at Montclair State University, he has secured more than $2.5 million in research funding and authored or co-authored 125 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Committed to mentoring students and professionals at all levels, Deng has also provided guidance to high school interns from around New Jersey and early-career scientists around the world.

During his semester research leave, Deng and his team will study persistent organic pollutants known as “forever chemicals” – compounds such as pesticides, herbicides and other organic chemicals that pose risk to both the environment and public health – that are highly resistant to traditional methods of chemical, biological and photolytic degradation. The group will develop and test a new water treatment technology that targets these compounds.

“Dr. Deng is an academic role model that excels in both research and education,” says Lora Billings, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “His work to remove the most harmful chemicals from our environment is a wonderful example of how Montclair State University leads the way in sustainability science, an area that needs the world’s attention now more than ever.”

For more information on the College of Science and Mathematics at Montclair State University, visit montclair.edu/csam.

Story by Senior Media Relations Specialist Andrew Mees

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