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Dr. Yaqi You

ESF’s Dr. Yaqi You Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Syracuse, N.Y. – April 2, 2024 – The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is proud to announce that Dr. Yaqi You, an assistant professor in Environmental Resources Engineering, received the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. This grant is the most esteemed recognition that NSF offers to early-career faculty who demonstrate exceptional promise and excellence.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is designed to support promising young faculty in becoming academic role models in both research and education, as well as in advancing the mission of their department or institution. You was awarded more than a half-million dollars (approximately $560,000) to pioneer new areas of interdisciplinary research and inclusive education.

“Dr. You’s research tackles important questions of human health, pollution, and microbial interactions in the environment. At the same time, her efforts promise to strengthen collaborations with academic partners in the region and inspire and train the next generation on environmental scientists,” said John Stella, Vice President for Research at ESF. “We commend her on winning this prestigious CAREER award, the second in two years for ESF.”

You’s project – titled “Systems Microbiology and InterdiscipLinary Education for Halting Environmental Antibiotic Resistance Transmission (SMILE HEART)” – aims to combat the transmission of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment and prevent their transfer to pathogens by controlling horizontal gene transfer. This mechanism is fundamental to the rapid spread and prolonged persistence of antibiotic resistance. 

One of the significant risks lies in escalated horizontal gene transfer in hotspots during hot moments, such as when agricultural soils receive manure or biosolids. You’s research team will explore chemical, biological, and ecological to control horizontal gene transfer within the soil microbiome.

“Antibiotic resistance has an environmental origin, develops and transmits within and between ecosystems, and poses a risk to human health through environmental exposure or by food or drinking water. Combating it requires an environmental framework implementing the “One Health” approach,” You said. “We want to address a long-overlooked but ubiquitous driver –non-antibiotic micropollutants – within and across microbial ecosystems, and advance a novel paradigm to conquer this challenge.

As part of the SMILE HEART project, You will leverage her ongoing collaborations with various partners in Upstate New York to train the next generation environmental engineering leaders with interdisciplinary skills; promote diversity and inclusion in STEM; and raise public awareness of anthropogenic impacts on the global antibiotic resistance challenge. You will build a vertically integrated summer program (SIMLE HEART UP) to engage K-14 students, including those from underrepresented minority populations.

You’s Environmental Microbiome Research (EMR) group works at the intersection of environmental engineering, environmental science, and environmental health with a long-term goal of harnessing the environmental microbiome for a sustainable food-energy-water nexus. They employ multi-omics, microfluidics, instrumental analysis, and data science to study microbiomes in soil and water and their interactions with the host.


The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) is dedicated to the study of the environment, developing renewable technologies, and building a sustainable and resilient future through design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources. Members of the College community share a passion for protecting the health of the planet and a deep commitment to the rigorous application of science to improve the way humans interact with the world. The College offers academic programs ranging from the associate of applied science to the Doctor of Philosophy. ESF students live, study and do research on the main campus in Syracuse, N.Y., and on 25,000 acres of field stations in a variety of ecosystems across the state.