Dr Zhiling Guo PhD

Dr Zhiling Guo

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
Assistant Professor

Contact details

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr. Zhiling Guo is an environmental toxicologist interested in understanding the connection between human exposure to pollutants (nanomaterial, micro/nano-plastic, air pollutant, organic pollutant, heavy metal, virus, pollen, and emerging pollutants) and life-long health, and the potential underlying mechanisms. Her research also focuses on establishing the 3R alternatives (i.e. in vitro barrier model, organ-on-chip) as enabling technologies to facilitate investigation of the human and environmental impacts of pollution, and to link across different research areas. She is also interested in understanding the effects of pollutants on ecosystems (terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystem), and developing biosensors to detect the traditional and emerging pollutants in the environmental and biological samples.

She has multidisciplinary expertise in different areas including environmental health, material science, environmental toxicology, molecular toxicology, neurotoxicology, nanotoxicology, and aquatic toxicology. She has published over 50 papers in top-tier journals including Nature Protocol, Nature Plants, Nature Communication, PNAS, Water Research, ES&T, Nano Today, ES&T letter, etc. She is an Associate Editor for journal Frontiers in Toxicology and Guest Editor for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety.



  • BSc. Biotechnology (2008)
  • PhD Marine Ecology (2014)


Dr. Zhiling Guo undertook her PhD project in Marine Ecology at University of Connecticut, USA looking at the climate change effects on the phytoplankton community and prey diversity of zooplankton in the marine water. She subsequently did her postdoctoral research at Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, investigating the mechanisms of heavy metal -induced skin diseases. Then she received an international postdoctoral fellowship to work in McGill University, Canada, for two years on the effects of prenatal infection on offspring brain health. In 2017 she returned to Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences investigating the neurotoxicity of organic pollutants using in vitro models. In April 2018, she joined the University of Birmingham as a Marie Curie Research Fellow at Environmental Nanosciences, mainly working on developing the in vitro blood brain barrier model to study the transport behavior of nanomaterials across the blood brain barrier using single cell and single particle ICP-MS combined with synchrotron-based techniques. She becomes Assistant Professor in 2022.


  • BSc Environmental Sciences
  • Global Challenge in the Anthropocene
  • From molecules to materials: Deconstructing the environment

Postgraduate supervision

Dr. Guo currently supervises PhD projects on a range of topics, including but not limited to:

  • Development of in Vitro Cell Model (Barrier Model, Organ-On-Chip, Etc.)
  • Multiscale Environmental Monitoring and Human-Centric Infrastructure Management
  • Ecotoxicity of Microplastic
  • Cytotoxicity and Genotoxicity of Nanoparticle, etc.

Interested students, including those with existing funding (e.g. CSC, UK, European scholarship) or applying for funding, are welcome to contact Dr. Guo by email (z.guo@bham.ac.uk) to discuss potential projects.


  • Development of 3R Alternatives (organ-on-chip, in vitro cell model, barrier model, etc.) 
  • Environmental and Human Toxicology of Pollutants (air pollutant, microplastic, nanomaterials, etc)
  • Nano-enabled Drug Delivery
  • Bioassay for Determination of Persistent Organic Pollutant in the Environmental and Biological Samples
  • Machine Learning and Predictive Modelling Approach for Toxicological Studies;

Research Gate profile:


Other activities

  • Outstanding reviewer for Environmental Science: Nano
  • Associate Editor for Frontiers in Toxicology
  • Guest Editor for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
  • Editorial Board member for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety
  • Full Member of Society of Toxicology
  • Member of Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry
  • Full Member of Chinese Society of Toxicology


Recent publications


Yang, K, Wang, X, Lynch, I, Guo, Z, Zhang, P, Wu, L & Ma, J 2023, 'Design of cryogel based CNTs-anchored polyacrylonitrile honeycomb film with ultra-high S-NZVI incorporation for enhanced synergistic reduction of Cr(VI)', Journal of Hazardous Materials, vol. 442, 129923. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhazmat.2022.129923

Xie, C, Li, X, Guo, Z, Dong, Y, Zhang, S, Li, A, Ma, S, Xu, J, Pang, Q, Peijnenburg, WJGM, Lynch, I & Zhang, P 2023, 'Graphene oxide disruption of homeostasis and regeneration processes in freshwater planarian Dugesia japonica via intracellular redox deviation and apoptosis', Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, vol. 249, 114431. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoenv.2022.114431

Xie, C, Li, X, Hei, L, Chen, Y, Dong, Y, Zhang, S, Ma, S, Xu, J, Pang, Q, Lynch, I, Guo, Z & Zhang, P 2023, 'Toxicity of ceria nanoparticles to the regeneration of freshwater planarian Dugesia japonica: The role of biotransformation', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 857, 159590. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159590

Abdolahpur Monikh, F, Guo, Z, Zhang, P, Vijver, MG, Lynch, I, Valsami-Jones, E & Peijnenburg, WJGM 2022, 'An analytical workflow for dynamic characterization and quantification of metal-bearing nanomaterials in biological matrices', Nature protocols, vol. 17, no. 9, pp. 1926-1952. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-022-00701-x

Feng, S, Zhang, P, Hu, Y, Jin, F, Liu, Y, Cai, S, Song, Z, Zhang, X, Nadezhda, T, Guo, Z, Lynch, I & Dang, X 2022, 'Combined application of biochar and nano-zeolite enhanced cadmium immobilization and promote the growth of Pak Choi in cadmium contaminated soil', NanoImpact, vol. 28, 100421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.impact.2022.100421

Cai, R, Ren, J, Guo, M, Wei, T, Liu, Y, Xie, C, Zhang, P, Guo, Z, Chetwynd, A, Lynch, I, Ke, PC & Chen, C 2022, 'Dynamic intracellular exchange of nanomaterials' protein corona perturbs proteostasis and remodels cell metabolism', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 119, no. 23, e2200363119. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2200363119

Xie, C, Guo, Z, Zhang, P, Yang, J, Zhang, J, Ma, Y, He, X, Lynch, I & Zhang, Z 2022, 'Effect of CeO2 nanoparticles on plant growth and soil microcosm in a soil-plant interactive system', Environmental Pollution, vol. 300, 118938. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2022.118938

Zhou, P, Long, B, Wang, R, Jiang, Y, Zhao, W, Li, Y, Li, M, Zhiling, G, Zhang, P, Rui, Y & Lynch, I 2022, 'Increase in the active ingredients of traditional Chinese medicine <i>Isatis indigotica</i> through iron nanoparticles supplementation <i>versus</i> carbon nanotubes: a comparative study', Environmental Science: Nano, vol. 9, no. 8, pp. 2966–2978. https://doi.org/10.1039/d2en00488g

Wang, Q, Zhang, P, Zhao, W, Li, Y, Jiang, Y, Rui, Y, Guo, Z & Lynch, I 2022, 'Interplay of metal-based nanoparticles with plant rhizosphere microenvironment: implications for nanosafety and nano-enabled sustainable agriculture', Environmental Science: Nano. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2EN00803C

Zhou, P, Long, B, Wang, R, Jiang, Y, Zhao, W, Li, Y, Li, M, Guo, Z, Zhang, P, Rui, Y & Lynch, I 2022, 'Iron nanoparticles increase the active ingredients of traditional Chinese Medicine Isatis Indigotica not carbon nanotubes: a comparative study', Environmental Science: Nano. https://doi.org/10.1039/D2EN00488G

Cai, S, Zhang, P, Guo, Z, Jin, F, Wang, J, Song, Z, Nadezhda, T, Lynch, I & Dang, X 2022, 'Multi-walled carbon nanotubes improve nitrogen use efficiency and nutritional quality in Brassica campestris', Environmental Science: Nano, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 1315-1329. https://doi.org/10.1039/D1EN01211H

Xu, T, Luo, Y, Xie, HQ, Xia, Y, Li, Y, Chen, Y, Guo, Z, Xu, L & Zhao, B 2022, 'Systematic identification of molecular mechanisms for aryl hydrocarbon receptor mediated neuroblastoma cell migration', Environment International, vol. 168, 107461. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2022.107461

Guo, Z, Zhang, P, Chakraborty, S, Chetwynd, AJ, Monikh, FA, Stark, C, Ali-Boucetta, H, Wilson, S, Lynch, I & Valsami-Jones, E 2021, 'Biotransformation modulates the penetration of metallic nanomaterials across an artificial blood–brain barrier model', Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 118, no. 28, e2105245118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2105245118


Zhang, P, Guo, Z, Chen, C & Lynch, I 2022, 'Uncertainties in the antibacterial mechanisms of graphene family materials', Nano Today, vol. 43, 101436. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nantod.2022.101436

Conference article

Knigge, X, Guo, Z, Valsami-jones, E, Hodoroaba, V & Radnik, J 2022, 'Influence of sterilization on the surface of nanoparticles studied with XPS / HAXPES in comparison to SEM / EDS', Microscopy and Microanalysis, vol. 28, no. S1, pp. 986-988. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1431927622004287

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