April Z. Gu

Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Cornell University
263 Hollister Hall

Phone: 607-255-8778
Email: aprilgu@cornell.edu

Biography: Dr. Gu is currently a professor in School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She also serves as a graduate field member in Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, and Department of Microbiology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She received her B.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China and a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, jointly in Microbiology, from the University of Washington, US. She was a visiting professor at University Vienna in 2014 and at University of Oxford in 2018. She worked as a process engineer and research scientist for HDR Engineering, where she specialized in water and wastewater treatment processes design for three years before she returning to academia. She stays active in both academic societies and water professional organizations and has served as board members on various committees for IWA, WEF, ACS and AEESP. She is an elected fellow of Water Environmental Federation (WEF).

Research Interests: The major research interest of Dr. Gu involves understanding and applying biological agents (e.g. microorganisms) and their functions to detect, transform or mitigate environmental pollutants and recover resources in both natural and engineered systems. For the past 10 years, her research has been specifically focused on the following areas: (1) advancing the mechanistic understanding and ability to better optimize and predict biological treatment and remediation processes by developing new tools/methods that enable fundamental cellular-level investigation of microbial behavior and metabolic functions; (2) promoting more sustainable biotechnology for water treatment and remediation through process optimization, energy capture, nutrient recovery and carbon foot-print reduction; (3) developing novel molecular biotechnology-enabled methods and technologies for reliable and comprehensive water quality monitoring and risk-based technology efficacy evaluation, including toxicity assessment and identification and, biological and chemical contaminants detection.

Teaching Interests: Dr. Gu believes that teaching is a creative act based on passion and dedication; as it requires a variety of skills, strategies and visions. Besides the transferring of knowledge of fundamental concepts and theories, key goals of effective teaching are to generate motivation among the students to learn and develop independent thinking and analytical reasoning. Another honorable and influential responsibility of a teacher is to be a mentor to help shape the minds of students with one’s professional philosophy and one’s dedication and enthusiasm to persuade the next generation to become innovative contributors to our society. She values the rigorousness in fundamental science and engineering teaching and therefore emphasize on structured, yet integrated and complex problem-solving orientated curriculum design.

Dr. Gu’s experiences in industry have cultivated her the recognition and appreciation of the importance of knowledge translation. She has taught Environmental Biological Processes, Water and Wastewater Treatment Processes, Water Engineering, Resources and Energy Recovery and Fluid Mechanics. In Cornell, she teaches CEE6570 ‘Biological Processes’, CEE4565/6565 ‘Waste Water Processes and Resources Recovery’, and CEE4590 ‘Capstone: Sustainable Environmental Technology for Remediation and resources Recovery’.