UWRL Welcomes 3 New Faculty Members

By Micah Safsten | August 17, 2022
Liyuan Hou
Assistant Professor Liyuan (Joanna) Hou

Liyuan (Joanna) Hou, Assistant Professor


BS – Environmental Engineering – Huaqiao University

MS - Environmental Engineering – Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences

PhD – Civil Engineering - University of Missouri

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow - studying wastewater bioconservation to biopolymer products and microbe-plastic interactions at the SUNY-ESF and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Liyuan Hou prefers to be called Joanna. In graduate school, Joanna focused on understanding how the microbial community functioned and changed under human activities at various scales of engineered and natural systems. Joanna aspires to discovery and creation: “Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that what has never been.” This led her to carry on postdoctoral experience in using omics-guided biotechnology to study the mechanisms and consequences of microbial metabolisms in nature. As an engineer, she would like to strike a balance between doing research and applying her findings and theories in practice with her biochemistry and microbiology background.


Her research focuses on investigating and utilizing functional microbial communities to promote water quality and resource recovery in engineered and natural systems. In her research, she applies various methodologies such as genome sequencing , metabolic engineering, and metabolite analysis in the engineering aspect to understand how the contaminants interact with microbes to enhance the removal or valorization of contaminants. Her research interests fall under two themes: (1) exploring the interactions between microbes and multi-contaminants so that a comprehensive system can be developed to track the transport, source, and driver of multiple pollutants in urban wastewater; and (2) understanding the interactions like biodegradation mechanisms of pollutants to minimize and valorize waste using microbes.


Dr. Hou will teach Biological Processes in Environmental Engineering (CEE 6930) during the fall semester and Environmental Engineering Microbiology (CEE 2620) in Spring 2023.

Looking to the Future:

Joanna is excited to build up collaboration with faculty at the UWRL and the CEE department where she will dedicate herself to researching applied environmental microbiology to monitor, minimize, or valorize both contaminants and waste. Ultimately, she is looking forward to improving the capacity to predict and model microbial behavior in engineered systems and habitats at a larger scale, while searching for novel biologically mediated transformations for engineering applications. This would help promote the One Health concept to optimize animal, human, and environmental health and foster a sustainable habitat in Utah State.

Other Interests:

Joanna enjoys hiking and cooking. She also likes painting and jewelry making and designing such things as wire rings and beaded necklaces. She and her husband, Richard, who is a water resources engineer, love outdoor activities and look forward to exploring different trails and mountains in the Cache Valley area.

Pin Shuai
Assistant Professor Pin Shuai

Pin Shuai, Assistant Professor


BS – Water Resources Engineering – Wuhan University

MS – Water Resources Engineering – Wuhan University

PhD – Hydrogeology – Texas A&M University

Post-Doctoral Associate and Staff Scientist – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Dr. Pin Shuai is a groundwater hydrologist with extensive experience in groundwater and surface water interactions, nutrients and contaminants transport, hydrological modeling, and ecohydrology. His recent research has focused on modeling the hydrological and biogeochemical processes from bedrock to canopy top in watersheds under human activities and disturbances.


Pin will be teaching Groundwater Engineering in Spring 2023. He also hopes to develop new courses related to his field.

Looking to the Future:

Currently, Pin is working on one DOE project that aims at advancing watershed system science using machine learning and data-intensive extreme-scale simulation. His primary role is to develop high-resolution, process-based watershed models that leverage leadership class high-performance computing. He is also interested in developing new projects that incorporate groundwater and surface hydrology with biogeochemistry to understand how human activities (e.g., dam operation) and disturbances (e.g., wildfire) impact watershed functions under climate change. Logan River Watershed could serve as an ideal testbed for such studies.

Other Interests:

In his leisure time, Pin enjoys playing tennis, hiking, and other outdoor activities.

Yiming Su
Assistant Professor Yiming Su

Yiming Su, Assistant Professor


PhD – Environmental Engineering – Tongji University

Post-Doctoral Research – Tongji University, University of California Riverside, University of California Los Angeles

Lecturer, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – University of California Los Angeles


Yiming’s research interests broadly cover nano-bioremediation, environmental applications and implications of engineered nanomaterials, conductive membrane  development  for  water  purification  and  resource  recovery,  and  nano-agents  development  for crop growth and diseases control.