Liping Pang

Science Leader

Dr Liping Pang is a Science Leader at ESR. Her field of expertise is on the experimental investigations and modelling of contaminant transport in subsurface media, in particular on subsurface microbial transport.

In October 2016 Liping received a prestigious Marsden Grant to lead research into a new approach to study how the disease causing bacteria, Legionella, can survive in man-made water systems such as household plumbing. This is the third Marsden Grant Dr. Pang has won. In the same year, she was also awarded a Health Research Council grant to study protozoa and virus removal in water filtration systems typically used in New Zealand, as well as an MBIE Endeavour Fund for her "Smart Idea" proposal for concurrently tracking multiple sources and pathways of water contamination using synthetic DNA tracers.

In recent years Liping has pioneered multidisciplinary research in developing cost-effective surrogates using biomolecule-modified particles for mimicking pathogen transport and removal in porous media. So far, surrogates for Cryptosporidium parvum, rotavirus and adenovirus have been developed and validated in alluvial and coastal sand aquifer media. The Cryptosporidium surrogates have been also satisfactorily validated by researchers overseas in granular limestone aquifer media.

“Our approach has opened up an exciting new direction for assessing pathogen attenuation and transport in porous media," she says.

“Testing the actual pathogens is expensive, risky and time consuming. Other methods, like using turbidity for measuring protozoa removal, are grossly inaccurate. The new surrogate techniques can allow us to get a much clearer picture of how certain pathogens are transported and removed in water environment. We are currently working with Water Research Australia to validate the surrogates in water treatment processes like coagulation and filtration.”

She also collaborates with the UNESCO Global Water Pathogen Project.

Liping Pang's research teamLiping's research team at ESR's Christchurch Science Centre. From Left to right: Dr Liping Pang, Kyrin Hanning (PhD student); Annabelle Tham (PhD student); Panan Sitthirit (Technical Support); Sujani Ariyadasa (PhD student); Beth Robson (Senior Technician); Dinesh Bhandari (PhD student).

By analysing a large body of published data from field experiments, Liping has established an extensive database of microbial removal rates for a wide range of soils, vadose zones, and aquifer media under various environmental conditions. This database has been widely used internationally for analysing the risk of water contamination, determine safe setback distances, and to select suitable sites for land disposal of wastewater and sludge.

Liping has a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Canterbury and a Master of Science in Earth Sciences from the University of Waikato.

Recently funded projects

Marsden Funded project: Understanding Legionella in the plumbing(external link)

HRC project: Community water supplies: ensuring microbial safety for disease prevention(external link)

MBIE Smart Idea project: Tracking water contamination using synthetic DNA tracers(external link)

More about Liping 

ResearchGate profile(external link)

LinkedIn profile(external link)

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