Dr Han Weng

Adjunct Research Fellow

School of Agriculture and Food Sustainability
Faculty of Science


Dr Han Weng is an emerging global leader in soil carbon research. His track record of interdisciplinary, innovative and high-quality research is outstanding for his early career stage. Dr Weng has 20 peer-reviewed papers (eight published since joining UQ in 2020) featuring in the highest impact journals of his research field, particularly those focused on environmental sciences and soil science. His first-author publications feature in Nature Climate Change (IF 25.3), Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology (IF 12.6), Science of the Total Environment (IF 8.0), and Soil Biology and Biochemistry (IF 7.6). To date, he has been cited over 530 times, and has an h-index of 10, and has a Field-Weighted Citation Impact factor of 2.82 (SciVal). This indicates that his papers are being cited 2.82 times more than the world average for publications of the same age and discipline. His achievement also includes one Highly Cited Paper as the first author in Nature Climate Change, which ranks in the top 1% in the field of environmental sciences, and the most downloaded article in 2021 (10,419 times) in Global Change Biology Bioenergy (IF 4.8).

Dr Weng has challenged the existing body of research on soil carbon. His research fills an important gap for maintaining agricultural productivity and mitigating climate change in the absence of a clear national strategy for agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Dr Weng’s outstanding contribution to the food and agriculture sector has been recognised through cross-disciplinary awards and competitive prizes, including 2014 Soil Science Australia Best oral presentation under 35 years of age and 2016 New Initiative Grant Research Fellow, Charles Sturt University.

Research Interests

  • In-situ spectromicroscopic insight into the plant-soil-microbe interactions
    My research also draws heavily on highly spatially-resolved in-situ synchrotron-based spectroscopy to understand of soil carbon that are highly heterogeneous at the nano-scale. I have recently been awarded two Australian Synchrotron grants as the lead CI. I am using Soft x-ray and Infrared Microscopy to investigate soil carbon functionality and spatial distribution from a 9-year Free-Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment (FACE) field study. During my PhD, I was also co-awarded an Australian Synchrotron grant (in-kind AUD$90K). This research highlighted significant changes in C speciation in bulk soil from 12 months to 10 years following biochar incorporation. I am also familiar with synchrotron facility overseas, particularly x-ray absorption near edge structure spectroscopy at the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Centre at Taiwan. I have co-authored a paper from this work to reveal phosphorus speciation and bioavailability in diverse biochars which resulted in a co-author paper in Plant and Soil. I am also an expert in applying FTIR and mean second derivative spectra to investigate C speciation in soils from long term agricultural field experiments (first author publications in Nature Climate Change and Soil Biology and Biochemistry). I also applied mid-infrared spectroscopy for site-specific calibration for rapid characterization of key soil properties and functions. As a result, I am a co-author of a manuscript in Geoderma.
  • Soil carbon dynamics in agroecosystems
    My innovative isotopic approaches in quantifying three C sources have made me an emergent leader of the field. My research has global implications for the restoration of soil organic carbon (SOC) in arable lands. My approach can discern three C sources in biochar enriched system which has proven to be much needed and valuable research tool in future research. I also take a step forward to improve my isotopic approach through a DAFF Action on the Ground Project in collaboration with NSW DPI, Southern Cross University and the NSW Sugar Industry (AUD$ 1.2M) (2013-2017). This project has further enabled me to collaborate with colleagues in China and co-supervise a PhD student funded for 12 months (recently completed). I used 13C and 15N lablled sugarcane biomass to study the turn-over of sugarcane residues in soil, native N cycling and the interaction with added fertiliser.

Research Impacts

Dr Weng’s research has global implications for the restoration of soil organic carbon in arable lands. As direct evidence of how his research impacts on climate change policy making, his first-author papers in Nature Climate Change (>170 citations since 2017) and Soil Biology & Biochemistry (>70 citations since 2015) were cited in policy recommendations by the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, Royal Society (UK), PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to assist policy makers from 195 countries in developing climate policy in agriculture. This is a rare achievement for an early career researcher and highlights the potential of his soil carbon research for policy adaptation.

In addition to his academic excellence, Dr Weng’s research has already had considerable impact in the grains industry in Australia. He has established links with key industry partner organizations and government agencies, including the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), NSW Department of Primary Industries, CSIRO, Agriculture Victoria and Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. His research brings practical benefits on management practice. He has developed new techniques to fingerprint soil carbon functionality and distribution which can provide important indicators for soil health and productivity under climate extremes. He has been interviewed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization (ANSTO) and featured twice on GRDC Groundcover for his synchrotron experiments on soil carbon studies.

Dr Weng has fostered strong international collaboration, including with Cornell University (USA), the Instituto Nacional de Metrologia (National Institute of Metrology, Brazil), Technical University of Munich (Germany, sister University to UQ), and Rothamsted Research (UK). He has 89 co-authors from five continents (North America, South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia). His diverse publication record reflects the strong professional network he has established and his ability to work productively with large teams of researchers from academic and government institutions. He continues to collaborate with early mentors, indicative of his ability to maintain strong professional relationships.

His demonstrated expertise, productivity and impact have rapidly established him as a leading early career researcher in soil carbon research. His communication and project management skills developed in universities and government agencies has accelerated his growth as a scientist. He is motivated and ideally placed to continue to develop his independent research program creating real-world impact on building soil carbon to draw down atmospheric CO2 and improving soil health.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of New England Australia


View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision


Book Chapter

Journal Article

Other Outputs

  • Barnard, Meghan, Kopittke, Peter and Weng, Han (2024). Queensland vertisol data. The University of Queensland. (Dataset) doi: 10.48610/92b825f

  • Barnard, Meghan, Kopittke, Peter and Weng, Han (2023). Data from experiments on soil carbon. The University of Queensland. (Dataset) doi: 10.48610/8a30f90

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision