Dr Zhe Yang


Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology


Dr. Zhe Yang currently is an ARC DECRA fellow in the School of Chemical Engineering/Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation at the University of Queensland. He obtained his PhD degree in Environmental Engineering in 2018 at the University of Hong Kong (PhD supervisor: Prof. Chuyang Tang). He was appointed as research assistant/post-doc fellow in HKU from Nov 2018 to July 2021 and was further promoted to Research Assistant Professor from July 2021 to Dec 2023. He was recognized as a Top 1% Scholar worldwide ranked by Clarivate Analytics by citations in 2023. Dr. Yang has more than 10 years of R&D experience in membrane technology in the context of desalination, water reuse, and water/wastewater treatment. To date, he has published over 70 papers and two book chapters, with total citations of over 6,000 and an h-index of 41 based on Google Scholar. Most of these papers (90%) are published in Nature indexed/top tier journals in the field of environmental engineering and membrane technology, including Environmental Science & Technology, Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Water Research, and Journal of Membrane Science. He has been awarded numerous prestigious awards, including The First Prize of the Water 2023 Young Investigator Award, Early Career Stars of Separation & Purification Technology, The 2022 ACS ES&T Engineering Best Paper Award, the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions Gold Metal in 2019, etc. He currently serves as the Early Career Editorial Board member of the leading journal in his field (Desalination, IF 9.9).

Feature works:

1. Meta-analysis and establishing upper bound of reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes:

2023: His work on establishing the nanofiltration upper bound framework and investigating its impact on system performance (ACS ES&T Eng., 2, 3, (2021) 377-390) was awarded the 2022 ACS ES&T Engineering Best Paper Award.

2022: Based on the upper bound framework, Dr. Yang collaborated with several international researchers/teams from KU Leuven, Yale University, and Technion to develop an open-access database of TFC desalination membranes - Open Membrane Database (OMD) (J. Membr. Sci., 641 (2021) 119927).

2019: His work on establishing the upper bound correlation between permeance and selectivity for desalination membrane (J. Membr. Sci., 590 (2019) 117297) is the first top-cited papers published in the Journal of Membrane Science in the year 2019 and among the top 1% cited according to Essential Science Indicators (ESI Highly Cited Paper).

2. High-performance gutter layer-based reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membrane:

2017-now: His works on designing high-performance novel gutter layer-based reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes significantly advance the water permeance of conventional membranes by an order of magnitude with simultaneously improved selectivity, which successfully surpasses the permeance-selectivity upper bound. The significance of these studies is highlighted by several ESI Highly Cited Papers (Environ. Sci. Technol., 52 (2018) 9341-9349; Environ. Sci. Technol., 53 (2019) 5301-5308; Environ. Sci. Technol., 54 (2020) 11611-11621).

3. Mechanistic investigation of nanofiller-enhanced reverse osmosis membranes:

2019-now: In the membrane community, the concept of thin-film nanocomposite (TFN) has successfully led to several commercialized products including Aquaporin-containing TFN membranes by Aquaporin A/S1 and zeolite-based TFN seawater and brackish RO membranes by LG-Chem NanoH2O®. Nevertheless, the mechanisms for membrane performance enhancement remained unclear. Dr. Yang's works on TFN membranes (Environ. Sci. Technol., 53 (2019) 5301-5308; Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., 7 (2020) 766-772) unveiled the underlying transport mechanisms of TFN membranes based on a systematic framework of the interior and exterior channels of the embedded nanofillers.

Professional memberships

1. A member of Membrane Society of Australasia (MSA), since May 2024

2. A member of Australia Water Association (AWA), since April 2024

Research Impacts


  • TOP 1% Scholar Worldwide (Link), Ranked by Clarivate Analytics, 2023
  • The First Prize of the Water 2023 Young Investigator Award (Link and Interview), the Journal Water, 2023
  • Early Career Stars of Separation & Purification Technology, GBA-SPT 2023 & 2nd GBA-MMP (Link), 2023
  • The 2022 ACS ES&T Engineering Best Paper Award (Link), 2023
  • 2022 Environmental Science & Technology Letters Best Paper Award (Link), 2023
  • Stanford Top 2% of the World’s Most Cited Scholars, 2021-2023 (Link), 2021-2023
  • ARC DECRA Fellowship(Link), 2023-2026
  • Outstanding Paper Award, The 6th National Conference on Water Treatment and Reuse of China, 2021
  • CAPEES Best Poster Presentation Award, Chinese-American Professors in Environmental Engineering and Science (CAPEES) Annual Meeting, 2021
  • Gold Medal, Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions, 2019


  • Doctor of Philosophy of Environmental Engineering, University of Hong Kong
  • Masters (Research) of Chemical Engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, East China University of Science and Technology (华东理工大学)


View all Publications


Book Chapter

  • Yang, Zhe and Tang, Chuyang Y. (2018). Novel membranes and membrane materials. Membrane-based salinity gradient processes for water treatment and power generation. (pp. 201-221) edited by Sarper Sarp and Nidal Hilal. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/b978-0-444-63961-5.00007-9

  • Tang, C. Y. and Yang, Z. (2017). Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Membrane characterization. (pp. 145-159) edited by Nidal Hilal, Ahmad Fauzi Ismail, Takeshi Matsuura and Darren Oatley-Radcliffe. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63776-5.00008-5

Journal Article