Welcome to the Gu Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory!

We are a warm, caring, and interdisciplinary lab with a focus on environmental biotechnology for water health, resources recovery, sustainable phosphorus, and development of AI-powered multi-omics tools.

Group Mission

One of the 21st Century’s 14 Grand Engineering Challenges is providing access to clean water. The mission of our research group is to contribute to this imperative global endeavor by advancing science and technology to preserve the sustainability of water and phosphorus via state-of-the-art AI-powered techniques . Our goal is to establish a unique interdisciplinary and translational research and educational program that specializes in applying genomic and molecular biotechnology for water treatment, resources recovery, and sustainable phosphorus. The April Z. Gu Group applies state-of-art genomics, high-resolution single-cell Raman-based phenotyping, flow cytometry, analytic chemistry, and advanced computational analysis algorithm to experimentally, computationally, and theoretically investigate the environmental processes. These approaches are applied for the advancement of  fundamental knowledge and development of sustainable technologies that can contribute to the paradigm shifts needed to face the most urgent environmental challenges facing human society, water/resources crises and climate change.

We provide opportunities to train a future workforce and foster new ways of solving complex environmental problems through atypical and convergent research collaborations across many disciplines and institutions. We also have long-term and close collaborations with our industrial partners and professional organizations to create synergy  between universities and industries for broader impacts. For example, we have jointly-funded graduate students and projects among Cornell Univeristy, water and wastewater utilities, Water Environment Federation (WEF) and Water Research Foundation (WRF) to help bring new water biotechnologies to practice quickly and efficiently. Engagement with above entities has allowed our researchers to connect with various stakeholders in the water profession and community and subsequently benefit from these network and experiences through public communications for outcome dissemination.

Research Funding

Our lab has been funded by federal government, state agencies, as well as numerous private sponsors to conduct researches in various fields. Gu has led and participated over 37 research projects with research funding from various agencies including NSF, DOE, EPA, USDA/NIFA, EDF, WERF, WRF and, NIH/NIEHS. Ongoing funding efforts also include the NIEHS national environmental health research center (PROTECT) and center for research on programmable plant systems (CROPPS).

Our current research thrusts are

  • 1) Development of sustainable and low-carbon biotechnologies for advanced water and wastewater treatment, and nutrients recovery
  • 2)  Investigation of microbial processes in global P cycling for enhanced phosphorus utilization and reuse
  • 3) Development of toxicogenomics-enabled risk-based environmental monitoring and technology assessment to improve environmental health
  • 4) Elucidating the roles of ubiquitous environmental pollutants in antibiotic resistance phenomena.