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Institute for Environmental Genomics

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Jizhong Zhou, Director, Institute for Environmental Genomics

Professor, Dept. Microbiology and Plant Biology

Dr. Zhou is a George Lynn Cross Research Professor and Presidential Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Plant Biology, and School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Sciences, and Director of the Institute for Environmental Genomics. Dr. Zhou is an international leader in genomics-enabled microbial environmental sciences. He is known for his pioneering advances in developing both cutting-edge experimental and computational metagenomic technologies to address frontier environmental, engineering and ecological questions. He has pioneered the elucidation and modeling of microbial feedback mechanisms in response to climate change, anthropogenic pollution, and environmental gradients. He has also made major contributions to microbial ecology theories with respect to microbial distribution, succession, and assembly mechanisms. His seminal work has been instrumental to the revolution of microbial ecology over the past two decades.

Dr. Zhou’s outstanding achievements are recognized internationally as a top 0.1% globally highly cited researcher by all three major complementary metrics based on Elservier’s Scopus (link), Web of Science (link), and Google Scholar (link). Dr. Zhou’s science leadership is also demonstrated by his professional service, as a Senior Editor for The ISME Journal (a prime microbial ecology journal), a former Senior Editor for mBio and formal Editor for Applied and Environmental Microbiology. He has been a US Ambassador to the International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME), and an Honorary Director for the Chinese Association of Microbial Ecology (CAME) – a major professional organization for microbial ecology in China. To honor his contributions, CAME established an award under his name in 2017 to recognize Outstanding Microbial Ecologists.

In recognition of his achievements in research, Dr. Zhou has received a number of prestigious awards, such as the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the President of the United States (2001), an R&D 100 Award in 2009 as one of 100 most innovative scientific and technological breakthroughs, The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award for Biological and Environmental Research in 2014 from U.S Department of Energy, and the 2019 ASM Award for Environmental Research for recognizing an outstanding scientist with distinguished research achievements in microbial ecology and environmental microbiology. He is a Fellow of the Ecological Society of Ecology (ESA), the American Academy of Microbiology (ASM), International Water Association (IWA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Honors and Awards

  • 2021, OU-VPRP's Award for Excellence for Research in the Natural Sciences
  • 2020, Fellow, International Water Association
  • 2019, ASM Award for Environmental Research
  • 2018-2020, Highly Cited Researcher by Web of Science
  • 2019, World’s most cited researcher (99.8% percentile) across all science & engineering fields
  • 2019, Most highly cited researcher (H-index > 100) according to their Google Scholar Citations
  • 2018, Fellow of the Ecological Society of America
  • 2015, The Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award
  • 2014, George Lynn Cross Research Professor
  • 2009, R & D 100 Award for GeoChip development
  • 2008, Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2007-present, Honorary Director, Chinese Association of Microbial Ecology (CAME)
  • 2005, Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
  • 2001, Presidential Early Career Award
  • 1996, Alexander Hollaender Distinguished Postdoctoral Award, DOE

Journal Editor

  • 2017-Present, Senior Editor, ISME Journal
  • 2019-Present, Associate Editor for Microbiome 
  • 2014-2020, Section Editor, Microbial Ecology and Evolution, BMC Microbiology
  • 2009-2019, Senior Editor, mBio®, ASM flagship journal
  • 2003-2013, Editor, Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Selected Publications


  • Yuan et al. 2021. Climate Warming Enhances Microbial Network Complexity and Stability. Nature Climate Change, 11:343-348. 10.1038/s41558-021-00989-9
  • Gao et al. 2021. Stimulation of soil respiration by elevated CO2 is enhanced under nitrogen limitation in a decade-long grassland study, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.,
  • Guo et al. 2020. Gene-informed decomposition model predicts lower soil carbon loss due to persistent microbial adaptation to warming. Nature Communications. 11, 4897. doi:10.1038/s41467-020-18706-z.
  • Guo et al. 2019. Climate warming accelerates temporal scaling of grassland soil microbial biodiversity. Nature Ecol & Evol., 3, 612–61.
  • Guo et al. 2018. Climate Warming Leads to Divergent Succession of Grassland Microbial Communities. Nature Climate Change. 8:813-818.
  • Xue et al. 2016. Tundra soil carbon is vulnerable to rapid microbial decomposition under climate warming. Nature Climate Change, 6: 595-600 (top 1% highly cited)
  • Zhou et al. 2012. Microbial Mediation of Carbon Cycle Feedbacks to Climate Warming. Nature Climate Change, 2:106-110. (top 1% highly cited)
  • Deyshet al. 1998. Isolation of acidophilic methane-oxidizing bacteria from northern peat wetlands. Science, 282: 281-284.

  • Wu, et al. 2019. Global diversity and biogeography of bacterial communities in wastewater treatment plants. Nature Microbiology, 4:1183–1195. (top 1% highly cited)
  • Zhou et al. 2014. Stochasticity, Succession and Environmental Perturbations in a Fluidic Ecosystem. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 111: E836-E845. (top 1% highly cited)
  • Hazen et al. 2010. Deep-sea oil plume enriches Indigenous oil-degrading bacteria. Science, 330: 204-208. (top 1% highly cited).
  • Xu et al. 2010. Responses of microbial community functional structures to pilot-scale uranium in situ bioremediation. ISME J  4:1060-1070.
  • Liu et al. 2003. Transcriptome dynamics of Deinococcus radiodurans recovering from ionizing radiation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci, 100: 4191-4196.
  • Liu et al. 1997. Thermophilic Fe(III)-reducing bacteria from the deep subsurface: The evolutionary implications. Science 277: 1106-1109.
  • Buzzard et al. 2019. Continental scale structuring of forest and soil diversity via functional traits. Nature Ecol. & Evol.3, 1298–1308
  • Zhou and Ning. 2017. Stochastic Community Assembly: Does It Matter in Microbial Ecology? Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 81:e00002-17 (top 1% highly cited)
  • Zhou et al.  2016. Temperature mediates continental-scale diversity of microbes in forest soils. Nature Communication, 7:12083, doi:10.1038/ncomms12083 (top 1% highly cited)
  • Zhou et al. 2013. Stochastic assembly leads to alternative communities with distinct functions. mBio, 4: e00584-12
  • Zhou et al. 2008. Spatial Scaling of Functional Gene Diversity across Various Microbial Taxa. Proc Nat. Acad. Sci. 105: 7768-7773.
    • Zhou et al. 2015. High-Throughput Metagenomic Technologies for Complex Microbial Community Analysis: Open and Closed Formats. mBio 6:e02288-14 (top 1% highly cited).
    • Zhou et al. 2011. Reproducibility and Quantitation of Amplicon Sequencing-Based Detection. ISME J, 5:1303-1313 (top 1% highly cited).
    • Zhou et al. 2013. Random Sampling Process Leads to Overestimation of β-Diversity of Microbial Communities. mBio 4: e00324-13.
    • He et al. 2007. GeoChip: A comprehensive microarray for investigating biogeochemical, ecological, and environmental processes. ISME J, 1: 67-77 (Among the 5 top-cited papers for the first 10 years of ISME J).
    • Zhou et al. 1996. DNA recovery from soils of diverse composition. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62: 316-322 (>3,500 citations) (Among the 20 most cited papers in AEM history, since 2008)
    • Ning et al. 2020. A quantitative framework reveals ecological drivers of grassland soil microbial community assembly in response to warming. Nature Communication, 11:4717.
    • Ning et al. 2019. A General Framework for Quantitatively Assessing Ecological Stochasticity. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci., 116: 16893-16898.
    • Deng et al. 2016. Network succession reveals the importance of competition in response to emulsified vegetable oil amendment for uranium bioremediation. Environ. Microbiol., 18: 205-218; (top 1% highly cited).
    • Deng, Y., Y. Jiang, Y. Yang, Z. He, F. Luo, and J.-Z. Zhou. 2012. Molecular Ecological Network Analyses. BMC Bioinformatics, 13:113 (top 1% highly cited)
    • Zhou J., Deng Y., Luo F., He Z., Yang Y. 2011. Phylogenetic molecular ecological network of soil microbial communities in response to elevated CO2. mBio 2:e00122-11. (top 1% highly cited)
    • Zhou et al. 2010. Functional Molecular Ecological Networks. mBio 1:e00169-10


    • 1993, Ph.D. Molecular Biology, Washington State University
    • 1984, M.S. Mathematical Ecology, Hunan Agricultural University, China
    • 1981, B.S. Plant Pathology and Entomology