The Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation recognizes Kang Xia, an associate professor of crop and soil environmental sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, for her work to protect the environment.
Xia is concerned with the occurrence, fate, and ecological impact of volatile organic chemicals that, because of human activity, have gotten into soil and water.
She has a special focus on detecting and understanding contaminants emerging from biosolids, a term that describes treated and processed sewage sludge often used to improve soil and promote plant growth, and for other agricultural purposes.
She works to develop ways to detect trace-level emerging contaminants in complex environmental matrixes and is also concerned with the occurrence and fate of hormones and their conjugates in animal waste and the environment.
Looking ahead, Xia says the fate and impact of chemical pollution has focused almost exclusively on the conventional pollutants such as pesticides and industrial chemicals. But a diverse group of bioactive chemicals such as pharmaceutical compounds and personal care products are becoming more frequently detected in the environment and may potentially have a negative impact on aquatic and terrestrial organisms.
Because of their close association with human activities and concentrated animal productions, this class of compounds and their bioactive metabolites are closely associated with wastewater, biosolids, and animal waste. Xia says research opportunities are growing in the development of analytical methods to detect these substances in complex environments, the development of treatment techniques to reduce the substances, and understanding their fates in wastewater, biosolids or animal waste amended soils.
Xia received a doctoral degree in soil chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a master’s degree from Louisiana State University, and a bachelor’s degree from Beijing Agricultural University.