Lu Yang profile picture

Lu Yang

University of Birmingham


Stream synchrony: understanding the synchrony of nutrients, pollution, and water in river ecosystems


  • Dr Joshua Larsen, University of Birmingham
  • Dr Julia Knapp, University of Durham
  • Dr Mike Bowes, CEH
  • Mark Jones, UK WIR

PhD Summary

Water pollution is increasing globally with both known and unknown impacts on ecosystems and human health, causing at least 1.8 million deaths per year according to The Lancet Commission on pollution and health. Rivers, so close to our daily life, convey and transform not only water but the nutrients and pollutants they received from the landscape. High concentrations of nutrients may also act as pollutants damaging freshwater ecosystems through processes of eutrophication. Obviously, the potential impacts of nutrients and pollutants depends on how much water river is conveying, also under changing climates and anthropogenic stress. There is a huge knowledge gap for both understanding the processes involved. Thus, this project referred to estimating how synchronous the inputs of water, carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus are across the UK and Europe, how and why it might be changing. It will provide deeper insights into the functioning of river ecosystems, priorities in pollution and water management.

Previous activity

Before starting my Ph.D., I worked for a globally renowned company, Schlumberger, in the oil&gas industry. I really enjoy that cool lifestyle working on the different offshore oilrigs as a Field Engineer. In fact, my BSc degrees were in Petroleum Engineering &English. The field of environmental research attracted me during my MSc degree in the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences from 2017 to 2020. At that time, my master’s research focused on emerging contamination, especially PPCPs and PFASs, to explore their relationship with anthropogenic stress in the coastal area.  Now, I start my doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Why did you choose doctoral research?

Having explored different lifestyles, I realised my true interest in research, especially about the water pollution in our environment. It definitely inspires me to develop more academic skills and discover the laws of our nature, as well as contributing to addressing environmental issues.

Why did you choose CENTA?

CENTA offered a systematic and excellent doctoral training programme, with many leading universities, institutions, and also corporations. The trainings both in academia and industry bring about more opportunities and broaden our insights in the future career.

Future plans

I’m currently open to my future plans and enjoying the process of my research. But I’m sure studying with CENTA and the University of Birmingham will offer me a solid foundation for careers both in academia and industry.