Zhenli He, Ph.D., received a 2020 University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship Award, a term that will continue through 2023. The award is the third term professorship He has won during his 16-year tenure with the university.
The professorship recognizes and supports faculty members who have established a distinguished record of research and scholarship that is expected to lead to continued distinction in their field.
“Zhenli He has a proven record for research to advance food production and its interface with the environment—he aims to protect our natural resources,” said Ronald D. Cave, director for the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce, Florida (UF/IFAS IRREC).
“Dr. He is a leading expert in phosphorus, a valuable substance for the production of high-yielding crops; Dr. He received a patent for a production method to develop environmentally friendly phosphorus fertilizers,” Cave said.
Along with Cave, Zhenli He leads IRREC as the associate director. He first joined IRREC as an assistant professor of soil fertility and environmental chemistry in 2004. Zhenli He has trained more than 50 graduate students, research scientists, and visiting scholars in his Soil and Water Science Laboratory at IRREC.
His research interests include soil biogeochemistry of nutrients and contaminants, remediation of contaminated soil and water, citrus nutrition, management of nutrients/wastes and water quality, and nanotechnology. His current research involves the patent he secured to develop a less expensive method to convert inexpensive dolomite rock, a byproduct of traditional phosphorus production, into environmentally friendly phosphorus fertilizers.
Cave said Zhenli He was selected for the professorship by his continued success in securing significant grants, his ability to publish research in leading scientific journals, and his scientific discoveries. His scientific findings and discoveries are published in journals such as Water Research, Environmental Pollution, Geoderma, and Science of the Total Environment.
Along with two colleagues, V.C. Baligar and N.K. Fageria, Zhenli He authored a book, Phosphorus Management in Crop Production. The book’s primary thrust is to help growers in developing nations to produce nutritious crops in soils where food has never been cultivated. In their publication, the scientists explain that healthy soil and the need for phosphorus to produce food for the world’s growing population will present greater challenges, as phosphorus sources rapidly become depleted. And within their book, the researchers provide information for researchers and growers who strive to meet the increased demands for nutritious food, fertile soils, and phosphorus into the 21st century.
Zhenli He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, the highest point of achievement a scientist may reach in their respective fields. He serves as a submission editor for the Journal of Soils and Sediments and on the editorial board for the International Journal of Communication in Soil Science and Plant Analysis and the International Scholarly Research Network Soil Sciences.
Zhenli He currently teaches Soil Quality (SWS 6134) to graduate students and Nanotechnology in Food, Agriculture and Environment (AGG 6503/AGG4502) to both graduate and undergraduate students. The courses are available online.