The biogeochemist Baile Xu came to Freie Universität Berlin as a Rising Star Fellow in April 2022. He would like to spend his time in the lab of biology professor Matthias Rillig to study how microplastic and currently-used pesticides affect soil health and functions. Microplastics and pesticides are considered to be important anthropogenic stressors in the context of global environmental changes. Microplastics can have a negative effect on soil physical structure and ecosystem functions, and pose a potential environmental risk to terrestrial ecosystems. Currently-used pesticides are distributed ubiquitously on land, and more importantly, the co-existence of multiple pesticides in soil can threaten soil biodiversity that maintains ecosystem services. Therefore, Baile Xu wants to gather more information to understand the effect of microplastics combined with pesticides (particularly, the increasing number of pesticides) on soil ecosystem functions.
Baile Xu obtained his Ph.D. degree in Soil Science at Zhejiang University. For one year he was also at the Department of Environmental Science at University of California, Riverside as a visiting Ph.D. student. In his academic career he has published more than 10 peer-reviewed papers (one highly-cited paper), and one of his papers won the Excellent Paper Award. He also served as a guest editor of Frontier in Environmental Chemistry andthe reviewer for many scientific journals.“The primary reason why I applied for this junior fellowship was the motivation to work with Prof. Dr. Matthias Rillig, who earns the prestige across Soil Science, Environmental Science and Ecology. Coincidently, we both are interested in the effect of microplastic pollution in soil ecosystems. Moreover, I have never been to Europe before, and the academic experience in Germany would be intriguing to me.
Freie Universität Berlin is different from both Chinese and American universities where I stayed. As like in this department, three institutes are geographically separated but organically connected. Especially for me, we have an in-depth collaboration with Prof. Dr. Sebastian Riedel to investigate F-containing chemicals’ impact on soil health. I like my working group here. We have a lot of brainstorms and share knowledge and skill unconditionally, which can bridge the gap across multiple disciplines.
All in all, I am so excited and honored to win this junior fellowship, and during my stay here, I would expect to put some environmental chemicals seasoning into the ecology dish to bridge the knowledge gap between ecology and environmental changes.”