Assistant Professor Department of Ocean Science and Engineering

Dr. Yao received her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 2020 before she worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University. In 2021 summer, she joined the Southern University of Science and Technology faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Ocean Science and Engineering. Dr. Yao has a broad range of interests in the fields of global biogeochemical cycles, seawater chemistry, and paleoceanography and paleoclimatology on various geological timescales. Stable isotope geochemistry and numerical modeling are the primary approaches for her research.

Personal Profile


2020  Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada

2015  Master of Science (M.Sc.), Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada

2014  Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.), School of Marine Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, China



2021-Present  Assistant Professor, Department of Ocean Science and Engineering, Southern University of Science and Technology, China

2021  Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, USA  

2020  Postdoctoral Fellow, Department Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto, Canada   



2021   Shenzhen high-level professional talents, national-level leading talents

2020   National Outstanding Self-funded Student Scholarship

2020  Harry Elderfield Outstanding Student Paper Award, American Geophysical Union, USA

2018 - 2019  H.V. Ellsworth Graduate Fellowships in Mineralogy

2017 – 2018  P.C. Finlay Q.C. President's Fellowships in Geology

2016  Centre for Global Change Science Graduate Student Research Award

2015 – 2016  Laurence and Theresa Curtis Explorers Graduate Scholarship

2015 – 2016  W. W. Moorhouse Fellowship

2010 – 2013  China National Undergraduate Scholarship



Peer reviewer for

Nature Geoscience; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Geology; Earth and Planetary Science Letters; Geophysical Research Letter; Chemical Geology; Limnology and Oceanography; Applied Geochemistry; Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, Seawater Chemistry, Biogeochemical cycles, Stable isotope Geochemistry


OCE5033 Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology

Publications Read More

Yao W.*, Paytan A., Wortmann U.G. (2018) Large-scale ocean deoxygenation during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Science 361(6404), 804-806. 

Yao W., Wortmann U.G., Paytan A.* (2019) Sulfur isotope – Use for stratigraphy during times of rapid perturbations. In Montenari M. (Ed.), Stratigraphy & Timescales, Volume 4, pp. 1-33, Academic Press, Elsevier.

Yao W.*, Paytan A., Wortmann U.G. (2020) Effects of a transient marine sulfur reservoir on seawater δ18OSO4 during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 269, 257-269.

Yao W.*, Paytan A., Griffith E.M., Martı́nez-Ruiz F., Markovic S., Wortmann U.G. (2020) A revised seawater sulfate S-isotope curve for the Eocene. Chemical Geology 532, 119382.

Yao W., Paytan A.* (2020) Possible triggers of the seawater sulfate S-isotope increase between 55 and 40 million years ago. Chemical Geology 552, 119788.

Yao W., Griffith E.M., Paytan A.* (2021) Pelagic Barite: a Tracer of Ocean Productivity and a Recorder of Isotopic Compositions of Seawater S, O, Sr, Ca and Ba. In Lyons T.W., Turchyn A.V., Reinhard C.T. (Eds.), Elements in Geochemical Tracers in Earth System Science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Yao W.*, Markovic S., Paytan A., Erhardt A.M., Wortmann U.G. (2021) Quantifying pyrite oxidation on continental shelves during the onset of Antarctic glaciation in the Eocene-Oligocene transition. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 568, 117015.

Paytan A.*Yao W., Faul K.L., Gray E.T. (2020) Sulfur isotope stratigraphy. In Gradstein F.M., Ogg J.G., Schmitz M.B., Ogg G.M. (Eds.), Geologic Time Scale 2020, Volume 1, pp. 259-278, Elsevier Science & Technology, Elsevier.

Tsang M.-Y.*, Yao W., Tse K. (2020) Oxidized silver cups can skew oxygen isotope results of small samples. Experimental Results, Cambridge University Press 1(e12), 1-6.

Waldeck A.R.*, Olson H.C.*, Yao W., Blättler C.L., Paytan A., Hodell D.A., Johnston D.T. (2022) Calibrating the triple oxygen isotope composition of evaporite minerals as a proxy for marine sulfate. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 578, 117320.

Cai Z.*, Xia B., Lv B., Yao W., Li J. (2015) Initial rifting process and dynamics mechanism of Huaguang Sag: evidence from a numerical modeling method. Journal of Earth Science 26(3), 399-406.

News More

  • IGCP 739 First Workshop on Mesozoic–Palaeogene Hyperthermal Events

  • Welcome undergraduates to join the lab!

  • Welcome postdoctoral Hu Yue to join Yao's lab!


Lab members Read More

Join us

We are currently seeking highly motivated talents to join our lab! Research projects in Yao’s lab include but are not limited to:

1. Marine authigenic minerals (e.g., authigenic carbonate minerals, sulfate minerals) and microfossils (e.g., foraminifera) as proxies for pale-seawater chemistry;

2. Formation mechanism of marine barite;

3. Temporal and spatial evolution of the global cycles of carbon, sulfur, and oxygen;

4. Biogeochemical cycles of nutrients (e.g., N, P) and trace metals (e.g., Sr, Mg, Mo);

5. Reconstruction of oceanic redox conditions, earth surface processes, and climatic changes on various geological timescales over the Cenozoic and Mesozoic with diverse modeling techniques (e.g., Multi-box Inverse Model, cGENIE, Community Climate System Model).


Recruitment positions

1. Fully-funded two-year postdoctoral scholars


Applicants should have received their Ph.D. or equivalent degree in marine sciences, earth sciences, geochemistry, paleobiology and other related fields. Preference will be for applicants who

i. are familiar with in element and isotope geochemistry, geobiology, geochemistry, geology and mineralogy, and other biogeochemical analyses  

ii. have experience in using TC/EA-IRMS and/or MC-ICP-MS

iii. have published more than one high-quality paper as the first author in mainstream SCI journals in related fields

iv. are fluent in English reading and writing;

v. are good at mathematical and statistical analyses and have basic computer and modeling skills.

Salary and benefits

The postdoctoral fellowship comes with an annual stipend of 300,000~400,000 RMB (equivalent to 44,000~58,000 USD), including Guangdong Province's living allowance of 150,000 yuan and Shenzhen's living allowance of 60,000 yuan, and participating in social insurance and housing provident fund according to the relevant regulations of Shenzhen. Postdoctoral welfare fees are paid in accordance with the school’s faculty and staff standards. Particularly outstanding candidates can apply for the principal's outstanding postdoctoral fellow, with an annual salary of more than 500,000 yuan. (Including subsidies from Guangdong Province and Shenzhen). During the 2-year period, postdoctoral fellows can rely on the university to apply for Shenzhen public rental housing. Postdoctoral fellows who do not rely on the school to use Shenzhen public rental housing can enjoy a housing subsidy of 2,800 yuan/month before tax for two years.

For more information, visit


2. Graduate students
Students interested in paleoceanography and paleoclimatology or marine biogeochemistry are highly encouraged to join our Master's or Ph.D. programs.


3. Research Assistants
Students with marine geochemistry backgrounds are welcome to join as research assistants in our lab.


To apply, please send your CV, cover letter, and research statement to Dr. Yao ( The start date is flexible, and the review of applicants will be ongoing until the positions are filled.

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Contact Us

Contact Address

No. 1088 Xueyuan Road, SUSTech, Engineering College South Tower, Room 302, Nanshan District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, 518055, China

Office Phone



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