Yina Liu

Yina Liu

Assistant Professor

Analytical Chemistry Research and Development Team Lead, Geochemical and Environmental Research Group


  (979) 862-8494

  Eller O&M 506DAA


I am an organic biogeochemist with particular interests in how organic compounds’, both natural and anthropogenic, cycling affect biological and ecological processes and vice versa. These interconnected processes are important drivers for organic carbon and contaminant cycling at regional and global scales. My group uses untargeted and targeted analyses as well as data science to shed light on different aspects of organic biogeochemistry.

Untargeted Analysis – Looking for the Known and Unknown Compounds

My research group uses advanced analytical chemistry and novel compound identification algorithms to characterize environmental complex organic mixtures at a molecular level. The detailed chemical information allows us to look beyond the known molecules and search for the previously unknown compounds to better understand various processes, for example:

  • how halogenation of natural organic matter affect carbon cycle and ozone chemistry;
  • how microbes transform water-soluble crude oil components in seawater, after an oil spill;
  • how organic carbon transform and cycle in the environment.

Targeted Analysis

My research group uses targeted analysis to study various environmental issues. For example, currently, we are investigating the environmental distributions of the “forever compounds,” known as the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), as well as pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs).

Data Science

My group uses data science pipelines to discover and classify organic compounds and fingerprint environmental samples. We use novel computational algorithms to decipher the complex data generated from ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry. For example, the Isotope Pattern Algorithm allows us to “hunt” for unknown compounds that contain halogens. Currently, we are working on a cheminformatics pipeline to fingerprint and classify tarballs.

Research Key Words

  • Environmental Metabolomics
  • Chemical Ecology
  • Halocarbon Biogeochemistry
  • Organic Biogeochemistry
  • Atmospheric Chemistry
  • High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry
  • Mass Spectrometry Data Science
  • Cheminformatics

Selected Publications

Liu, Y., H. K. White, R. L. Simister, D. Waite, S. L. Lyons, and E. B. Kujawinski (2020), Probing the Chemical Transformation of Seawater-Soluble Crude Oil Components during Microbial Oxidation, ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, 4(5), 690-701.

Chen, C.-H, S.-H. Yang, Y. Liu, P. Jamieson, L. Shan, and K.-H. Chu (2020), Accumulation and Phytotoxicity of Perfluorooctanoic Acid and 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoro-2-(Heptafluoropropoxy)Propanoate in Arabidopsis Thaliana and Nicotiana Benthamiana. Environmental Pollution 2020, 259, 113817.

Rivas-Ubach, A., Y. Liu, A.L. Steiner, J. Sardans, M.M. Tfaily, G. Kulkarni, Y.M. Kim, E. Bourrianne, L. Paša-Tolić, J. Peñuelas, and A. Guenther (2019), Atmo-ecometabolomics: A novel atmospheric particle chemical characterization methodology for ecological research. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 191(2), p.78.

Ward, N.D., E.S. Morrison, Y. Liu, A. Rivas‐Ubach, T.Z. Osborne, A.V. Ogram, and T.S. Bianchi (2019), Marine microbial community responses related to wetland carbon mobilization in the coastal zone. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 4(1), pp.25-33.

Huang, P.J., M. Hwangbo, Z. Chen, Y. Liu, J. Kameoka, and K.H. Chu (2018), Reusable functionalized hydrogel sorbents for removing long-and short-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and GenX from aqueous solution. ACS Omega, 3(12), pp.17447-17455.

Wu X, L. Wu, Y. Liu, P. Zhang, Q Li, J Zhou, N.J. Hess, T.C. Hazen, W. Yang, and R Chakraborty (2018), Microbial interactions with dissolved organic matter drive carbon dynamics and community succession. Front. Microbiol. 9:1234. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01234.

Rivas-Ubach A, Y. Liu, T.S. Bianchi, N. Tolić, C. Jansson, and L. Paša-Tolić (2018), Moving beyond the van Krevelen diagram: A new stoichiometric approach for compound classification in organisms, Analytical Chemistry 2018 90 (10), 6152-6160, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.8b00529 (Equal contribution with first author). 

Tolić, N, Y. Liu, A. Liyu, Y. Shen, M.M. Tfaily, E.B. Kujawinski, K. Longnecker, L-.J. Kuo, E.W. Robinson, L. Paša-Tolić, N.J. Hess (2017), Formularity: Software for automated formula assignment of organic matter from ultra-high resolution mass spectra, Analytical Chemistry 2017 Dec 5;89(23):12659-12665. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b03318. Epub 2017 Nov 21 (project PI and equal contribution with first author).

Liu, Y, E.B. Kujawinski (2015), Chemical composition and potential environmental impacts of water-soluble polar crude oil components inferred from ESI FT-ICR MS. PLoS ONE 10(9): e0136376. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0136376

Liu, Y, D.C.O. Thornton, T.S. Bianchi, W.A. Arnold, M.R. Shields, J. Chen, and S.A. Yvon-Lewis, (2015), Dissolved organic matter composition drives the marine production of brominated very short-lived substances. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2015, doi:  10.1021/es505464k.


Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Chemical Oceanography. Ph.D. 2013

University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA. Environmental and Earth System Sciences. B.S. 2006

Postdoctoral Research

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA. Postdoctoral Research Associate. 2015-2017

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA. Postdoctoral Investigator. 2013-2015

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