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.
Yao’s lab focuses on 1) reconstructing the temporal and spatial evolution of global (C/S/O/N/P) cycles over the Cenozoic/Mesozoic with an emphasis on glacial-interglacial, hypothermal and oceanic anoxic events, 2) developing marine barite as a chemical and isotopic tracer of paleo-productivity and seawater multi-isotope compositions, 3) investigating nutrients (e.g., nitrate, phosphate, silicate) and trace elements (e.g., Mg) in the freshwater and marine systems that are associated with weathering and/or biological activities. The overarching goal is to elucidate the response and feedback mechanisms of biogeochemical processes to climate and tectonic changes and to provide insights into anthropological impacts on our planet.
2020 University of Toronto, Earth Sciences, Ph.D.
2015 University of Toronto, Earth Sciences, M.Sc.
2014 Sun Yat-Sen University, Marine Sciences, B.Sc.
2022 – Present Associate Professor, Southern University of Science & Technology
2021 – 2022 Assistant Professor, Southern University of Science & Technology
2021 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University
2020 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department Physical and Environmental Sciences, University of Toronto
Honors and Awards
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
1. National Science Foundation (NSF-USA)，OCE-1946137，Collaborative Research: Unlocking the Cenozoic /Cretaceous seawater sulfate record via inclusion of 17O in marine barite， 2020-2022，USD413,392，participated
2. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)，RGPIN-2018-05873，Do sedimentary sulfur phases link to the biogeochemical cycle of calcium to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration，2018-2023，CAD25,000，participated
3. Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF)，NPRP12S-0313-190349，Understanding carbon mineralization in sabkhas: microbial mats, minerals and carbon sequestration， 2020-2023，USD180,000，participated
4. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)，GCXE19P033，Phosphorus loading from Napanee River, Wilton Creek and their catchments， 2019-2021，CAD242,000，participated
Featured publications (*Corresponding Author):
1.Yao W.*, Paytan A., Wortmann U.G. (2018) Large-scale ocean deoxygenation during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Science 361(6404), 804-806. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aar8658
2.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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2019.10.019
3.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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2019.119382
4.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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemgeo.2020.119788
5.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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2021.117015.
6.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. https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.sats.2019.08.004
7.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. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108847162