Water Solutions using Innovation and Ecology
Written by Teghan Acres
Dr. Dawen Gao is a water research powerhouse. With over 100 published papers, multiple research and teaching awards and a chair on the boards of five international journals, he brings extensive expertise and experience to the Pacific Water Research Centre (PWRC). Dr. Gao’s major research interests include biological wastewater treatment, membrane technology, fate and transport of pollutants in the environment, environmental biotechnology, and microbial ecology.
Dr. Gao has been an adjunct professor at the PWRC since 2018. He completed his PhD in wastewater treatment at Harbin Institute of Technology in China before pursuing postdoctoral research at Tsinghua University and Stanford University. He is now a professor of Environmental Science and Engineering at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture. In addition to this position, he is a member of the management committee of the International Water Association Specialist Group on Nutrient Removal and Recovery.
He is currently conducting research in three water-related directions. He is looking at biological nitrogen removal processes, ecological remediation for urban water bodies related to sponge city, and greenhouse gases emissions from permafrost regions under global climate change conditions. His study of biological nitrogen removal processes is in pursuit of solving eutrophication issues in rivers, lakes and coastlines. Eutrophication is when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induces excessive growth of algae. Algae can deplete the water of oxygen which creates a hostile environment, making it harder for other plants and organisms to survive. Dr. Gao established a pilot-scale demonstration at PetroChina Lanzhou Petrochemical Company to combat the eutrophication issues the refinery was experiencing due to wastewater with high ammonia. His strategy used biological solutions to solve the wastewater issues. Dr. Gao continues to create exciting solutions in the water sector and we are lucky to have him here at the PWRC.