Remembering Li-Tse Ou, professor emeritus

Dr. Li-Tse Ou passed away on December 8, 2023, at the age of 89 in Gainesville, Fla. He was a successful professor of soil microbiology with what is now the UF/IFAS Department of Soil, Water, and Ecosystem Sciences. He joined the department in 1975 and worked until his retirement in 2007. 

Portrait of Dr. Li-Tse Ou, professor emeritus, University of Florida
Dr. Li-Tse Ou

Li grew up in Taiwan and received about four years of Japanese elementary education while the island was a colony of Japan. He attended the National Taiwan University in Taipei, majoring in chemical engineering. After graduation, he worked as an assistant research scientist with the Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica in Taipei. His research involved various aspects of chemistry and biochemistry, occasionally applied microbiology. Li obtained his PhD in 1971 from the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, NY. 

He continued his academic career on a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University. There, he studied the biodegradation of several naturally occurring organic chemicals by soil bacteria. As a research associate at the Syracuse Research Corporation, Li focused on the biodegradation of several environmentally important pesticides by bacteria isolated from soil and sewage.  

After joining the University of Florida, Li’s research focused on the biodegradation of pesticides and other organic chemicals in soils and water as well as by bacteria. He also researched bioremediation of pesticides in contaminated soils. Beginning in 2001, his research primarily focused on the fate of soil fumigants important to Florida agriculture.  

For more than 15 years, Li taught a graduate-level course entitled Biodegradation and Bioremediation. He served as a scientific advisor to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a consultant to environmental consultant companies. Li retired from UF at the end of 2007. 

In retirement, he still spent some time researching the bioremediation of DDT and its toxic metabolites in contaminated soil. He also did some traveling. One of his favorite places to visit was Delaware to see his daughter and her family.  

Li was married to Chiu Mei for 43 years, until her death in 2012.  They have two children, Mark and Maisie, and several grandchildren.


Posted: January 4, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS
Tags: Li-Tse Ou, Soil And Water Sciences, Soil Water And Ecosystem Sciences

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