Principal Investigator

Ying Xu (CV)


Dr. Ying Xu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Building Science at Tsinghua University, China. Prior to her position in Tsinghua, Dr. Xu was a tenured Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research is focused on understanding the relationships among sources, indoor environments, and human health for indoor pollutants, especially semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs). She has served as principal investigator and co-principal investigator on research projects funded by NSFC and MOST in China, and NSF, EPA, ASHRAE, NIOSH, and HUD in the U.S. Dr. Xu and her research team have published over 100 papers in top journals of environmental engineering field and in conference proceedings. Several of her journal publications were selected for special honors, such as the Editors’ Choice Article selected by the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the “Science Selections” article in the journal of Environmental Health Perspectives. Dr. Xu’s research was highlighted by the media, including the Daily Mail, Fox News, the NSF homepage, and Austin American-Statesman, and was also reported in NSF Discoveries as a special science news program. Recently, Dr. Xu was elected as the President of the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ) and she is the first president from China in history. In addition, Dr. Xu has been serving as Associate Editor for the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology and on the editorial board of Indoor Air and PLOS ONE.

Dr. Xu is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the Yaglou Award (2011) from the International Society of Indoor Air Quality and Climate (ISIAQ) for being the most promising young (under age of 37) researcher in the field of indoor air sciences, U.S. National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award (2012), New Investigator Award from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) (2014), the Air and Waste Management Association (A&WMA) Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award (2015), Virginia Tech Outstanding Young Alumni Award (2016), and Best Paper Awards from ISIAQ (2014), A&WMA (2014), the International Society of Exposure Science (2008) and in Healthy Buildings 2006. 
Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University 
Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University
Civil Engineering, Virginia Tech

Current People

Ph.D. in progress

Yili Wu


I am interested in the fate and transport of semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs) in indoor environment. The emphasis is especially placed on the characterization of SVOC sorption and its application. A chamber method is being developed to model SVOC sorption and rapidly measure key parameters (partition coefficient and diffusion coefficient) of this process. I also focus on the mechanism of organic film growth on indoor surfaces and competitive sorption. Another research interest is the evaluation of SVOC human exposure, the corresponding health effects, and risk assessment.
B.S.     Environmental Science, Sun Yat-sen University

Zidong Song


1) Non-targeted analysis of endocrine disruptors in indoor environments
2) Dermal exposure assessment of environmental pollutants
3) Integrated exposure and pharmacokinetic modeling framework for health risk assessment
B.S.     Civil Engineering, Tongji University

Yujie Fan


1) Emissions of SVOCs from water-based paints
2) Development of high-throughput technologies for rapid measurements of SVOC emissions
3) Development and improvement of needle trap device (NTD) for sampling of air pollutants
B.S.     Civil Engineering, Tongji University

Xiaopeng Ren


1) Environmental pollutants in museums and their relationship with heritage conservation
2) Influences of pollutants on ferrous artifacts and the related mechanisms
3) Development of online sensors for critical pollutants in museums
B.S.     Chemical Engineering & Bioengineering, Tsinghua University

Luying Nian


1) Human exposome in indoor environments 
2) Risk-Based indoor pollutants prioritization
3) Health risk assessment
B.S.     Environmental Engineering, Sun Yat-sen University

Weijian Zhang


1) Exposure assessment of microplastics in indoor environments
2) Fate and transport of particle-associated SVOCs during inhalation exposure
3) Development of inhalation sampler for assessing the toxicity of airborne particles
B.S.     New Energy Science and Engineering, Central South University

M.S. in progress

Meng Shi


1) Non-target analysis with GC-HRMS for indoor SVOC pollutants
2) Detection of SVOC pollutants in museum environments
B.S.     Civil Engineering, Tongji University


Ph.D. supervisions completed:

  • Liang, Yirui. December 2014
    Dissertation: Novel methods for characterizing phthalate emissions and their fate and transport in indoor environments.
    Current Position: Senior scientist, California Air Resources Board.

  • Boor, Brandon (co-advised with Atila Novoselac). July 2015
    Dissertation: Studies on particle resuspension, infant exposure, and the sleep microenvironment.
    Current Position: Assistant Professor, Purdue University.

  • Bi, Chenyang. August 2018
    Dissertation: Sorption of semi-volatile organic compounds to dust and other surfaces in indoor environments.
    Current Position: Postdoc fellow, Virginia Tech.

  • Li, Hongwan. Dec 2019.
    Dissertation: Rapid characterization of emission parameters of semi-volatile organic compounds for building materials and consumer products.
    Current Position: ORISE Fellow Research Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

M.S. supervisions completed:

  • Muirhead, Loren. Dec 2015 (Co-advised with Atila Novoselac)
    Thesis: Single-zone HVAC systems in k-12 schools : a literature review.

  • Bi, Chenyang. May 2014
    Thesis: The influence of temperature on the fate and transport of phthalates in indoor environments.

  • Urquidi, Jorge. December 2012
    Thesis: Phthalates and polybrominated diphenyl ethers in retail Stores.

  • Koh, Jae-hong May 2012 (Co-advised with Atila Novoselac)
    Thesis: Validation of local pressure coefficients for walls of low-rise building with varying wind direction.

  • Liang, Yirui. December 2010
    Thesis: Indoor residential fate model of phthalate plasticizers.

  • Kerbacher, Mariel. December 2010 (Co-advised with Atila Novoselac)
    Thesis: Effect of thermal mass on energy consumption in commercial buildings.

Postdoctoral fellows and visiting professors:

  • Wang, Xinke. September 2014 – August 2015
    Research Topic: Interaction of semi-volatile organic pollutants with airborne particles.

  • Zhang, Ge. February 2017 – February 2018
    Research Topic: Semi-volatile organic pollutants in low-income homes.