Jiefei Mao

Associate Professor works in the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Email address:

Postal address: Building 45, Room 304, 818 South Beijing Road, Urumqi, Xinjiang, 830011, China

Research Areas

Dr. Mao has a Ph.D degree in environmental science and organic geochemistry. She works at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Her research focuses on the mechanism and evolution of soil water repellency, environmental application of biochar, biomarker traceability and application, Soil salinization amendment. She is currently running several research projects, for instance, using carbon-based natural materials to amend soil water and salinization in arid and semi-arid region, assessing soil degradation with plant-derived biomarkers for grassland.


2012-  2016, Ph.D in Environmental Sciences, Copernicus Institute, and Organic Geochemistry group, 

                             Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

2009- 2011: M.Sc. in Applied Environmental Geoscience, University of Tübingen, Germany

2005-  2009: B.Sc. in Environmental Science,  Zhejiang University, China


Work Experience

  • 2016- 2018: Postdoctoral fellow/ Assistant researcher, Department of Environmental Sciences, Zhejiang University

  • 2009- 2011: Research Assistant, Environmental Mineralogy and Chemistry Group, University of Tübingen

  • 2010: Research Assistant, Department of Analytical Environmental Chemistry, The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Leipzig

Teaching Experience

  • 2013-2015: Teaching assistant for the Master course 'Sustainability Science: Modelling and Indicators', Faculty of Geosciences, Utrecht University



  • Mao J., Li Y., Zhang J., Zhang K., Ma X., Wang G. and Fan L. Organic carbon and silt determining subcritical water repellency and field capacity of soils in arid and semi-arid region. Front. Environ. Sci. 2022, 10:1031237. 

  • Mao, J., Zhang, K., Chen, B. Linking hydrophobicity of biochar to the water repellency and water holding capacity of biochar-amended soil. Environ. Pollut., 2019, 253, 779-789.

  • Mao, J., Chen, B., Nierop, K.G.J., Dekker, S.C., Dekker, L.W. Understanding the mechanisms of soil water repellency from nanoscale to ecosystem scale: A review. J. Soil Sediments. 2019, 19, 171-185

  • Mao, J., Nierop, K. G. J., Sinninghe Damsté, J. S., Dekker, S. C. Roots induce stronger soil water repellency than leaf waxes. Geoderma, 2014, 232-234, 328-340.

  •  Mao, J., Nierop, K. G. J., Rietkerk, M., Dekker, S. C. Predicting soil water repellency using hydrophobic organic compounds and their vegetation origin. SOIL, 2015, 1, 411-425.

  • Mao, J., Nierop, K. G. J., Rietkerk, M., Jaap S. Sinninghe Damsté, Dekker, S. C. The influence of vegetation on soil water repellency-markers and soil hydrophobicity. Sci. Total Environ., 2016, 566-567, 608-620.

  • Siteur, K.#, Mao, J.#, Nierop, K.G.J., Dekker, S.C., Rietkerk, M., Eppinga, M.B. Soil water repellency: a potential driver of vegetation dynamics in coastal dunes. Ecosystems, 2016, 19, 1210-1224. 

  • Fan, L., Mekrovar, O., Li, Y., Li, K., Mao, J*. Effect of nutrient addition on the productivity and species richness of grassland along with an elevational gradient in Tajikistan. Front. Plant Sci. 2021, 12, 2830. 

Research Interests

  • Mechanism and evolution of soil water repellency

  • Biomarker traceability and application

  • Environmental application of biochar

  • Soil water and salt transport process


  • The factors influencing biochar hydrophobicity and its association with water repellency of biochar-added soil, the First International Conference on Biochar Research and Application, Shenyang, China, 09. 2019 (Oral Presentation)

  • Understanding the mechanism of soil water repellency at nanoscale,  the 256th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Boston, U.S.A, 08. 2018 (Oral Presentation)

  • A sequential extraction and hydrolysis approach to understand the chemical nature of soil water repellency, EGU General Assembly 2014, Vienna, Austria, 04. 2014 (Oral Presentation)