• Yu, S. Mark
  • Position: PhD Candidate
  • Office: WL-233E
  • Web Page
  • Research Interests: Paleoceanography, tropical paleoclimate, foraminiferal geochemistry

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My Ph.D. dissertation aims to elucidate changes in the surface and intermediate waters of the central Indian Ocean across Glacial Terminations I and II and to reconstruct biogeochemical cycles and physiochemistry with stable isotope (δ18O, δ13C, and δ15N) and trace metal (Cd/Ca and Mg/Ca) geochemistry. These studies are part of IODP Expedition 359, Maldives Monsoon and Sea Level, and are part of the greater effort to decipher how changes to monsoon dynamics affect the carbon cycle and hydrography across glacial-interglacial intervals. I have participated in two oceanographic cruises, JR100/IODP 379T Chilean Margin and Argentine Margin Survey Cruise in 2019

Since my undergraduate studies working in a high-temperature experimental geochemistry laboratory, I have been particularly interested in advances in instrumentation. These analytical techniques in geochemistry are continuing to push the frontiers of research, and I am eager to use these methods to solve problems in paleoceanography and Earth history. As such, I have a particular fondness for deciphering how global changes leave behind minute geochemical signals in the proxy record.

Research Interests

  • Paleoceanography and paleoclimatology (monsoon and tropics)
  • Carbonate geochemistry with stable isotope and trace metals
  • Micropaleontology (foraminifera)


  • Rutgers University, NJ - (Ph.D. Candidate) 2016-Present 
    • Dissertation Title: Equatorial Indian Ocean Thermocline Dynamics: Implications for Hydroclimate and Biogeochemical Variability across Glacial Terminations I and II 
  • University of Rochester, NY - Geological Sciences (B.S.) with Biology, Environmental Geology, and History Minors, 2015 
    • Senior Thesis: Methods of Apatite Synthesis and Europium Anomaly Effects with Regard to Oxygen Fugacity
    • Advisor: Dustin Trail 

Teaching Experience

  • Improving Your Classroom Skills Workshop Series Certificate from TAProject (Rutgers School of Graduate Studies) - 2021
  • Teaching Assistant: Spring 2022 - (01:460:303) Paleontology under Dr. Marie-Pierre Aubry 
  • Teaching Assistant: Spring 2021 - (01:460:110) Sea Change under Dr. Kenneth Miller
  • Teaching Assistant: Spring 2020 - (01:460:302) Petrology under Dr. K. Doherty
  • Teaching Assistant: Spring 2017, Spring 2018 - (01:460:304) Intro. to Geochemistry under Dr. Godfrey, Dr. Mortlock, Dr. Turrin
    • Occasional Guest Lecture
  • Teaching Assistant: Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018 - (01:460:301) Mineralogy under Dr. Claude Herzberg
    • Occasional Guest Lecture 
  • Teaching Assistant: Fall 2020 - (01:460:100) Planet Earth under Dr. Donald Monteverde
  • Instructor: Summer 2018, Summer 2019, Summer 2020 - (01:460:100) Planet Earth, Section J1
  • Instructor: Summer 2018, Summer 2019 - (01:460:100) Planet Earth, Section H3
  • Workshop Leader: Fall 2014 - (EES 101) Intro. to Geological Sciences under Dr. Penny Higgins  

Honors and Awards

  • Rutgers EPS Excellence in Teaching Award - 2022
  • Doctoral Student Academic Advancement Fund (Rutgers) - 2021
  • Stephen Jay Gould Student Research Award (Paleontological Society) - 2021
  • Society for Sedimentary Geology (SEPM) Student Research Grant - 2019
  • Rutgers Graduate Program in Geological Science Excellence Fellowship - 2019, 2021
  • William V. Sliter Research Award (Cushman Foundation) - 2018
  • William and Grace Sparks Graduate Student Research Award (excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring) - 2018
  • Geological Society of America (GSA) Graduate Student Research Grant - 2018
  • NSF Participation Award for Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry and Ecology (IsoCamp) - 2017
  • Special Study Award (renamed Off-Campus Dissertation Development Award) - 2017
  • TA/GA Professional Development Award - 2017, 2018 
  • Discover Grant for Undergraduate Summer Research - 2014
  • 7th Generation Scholarship for Environmental Sustainability and Development (from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy)- 2011 to 2015

Travel Grants

  • School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Travel/Research Fund - 2022
  • On To the Future Award (GSA) - 2020, 2022
  • IsoAstro Workshop Travel Support - 2019
  • Graduate Climate Conference Travel Fund - 2018
  • EPS Graduate Student Travel Fund- 2017
  • EOAS Graduate Student Travel Fund - 2017

Advisor and Dissertation Committee

  • James D. Wright (Primary)
  • Kenneth G. Miller
  • Yair Rosenthal 
  • Richard A. Mortlock
  • Dick Kroon (In Memoriam
  • Kaustubh Thirumalai (University of Arizona) 


  • Yu, S.M., Wright, J.D., Mortlock, R., Miller, K.G., Stainbank, S., (In preparation, Fall 2022 submission). Tropical surface and intermediate water changes in the northern Indian Ocean over the last two glacial terminations.
  • Yu, S.M., Wright, J.D., Mortlock, R., Keating, R., and Miller, K.G., (In preparation). Observing monsoonal intensities from the Maldives across the last two Glacial Terminations.
  • Yu, S.M., Miller, K.G., Wright, J.D., ( In preparation) Utilizing salinity tolerances between Globigerinoides ruber and Trilobatus sacculifer for monsoon reconstruction. 
  • Sproson, A.D., Yokoyama, Y., Miyairi, Y., Aze, T., Clementi, V.J., Riechelson, H., Bova, S.C., Rosenthal, Y., Childress, L.B. and the Expedition 379T Scientists (Submitted to Science). Patagonian Ice Sheet response to obliquity and precession reveals Southern Hemisphere pacing of global glaciations
  • Clementi, V.J., Rosenthal., Y., Bova, S.C., Thomas, E.K., Wright, J.D., Mortlock, R.A., Cowling, O.C., Godfrey, L.V., Childress, L.B., and Expedition 379T Scientists, 2022, Deep submarine infiltration of altered geothermal groundwater on the south Chilean Margin. Nature Communications Earth and Environment 3, https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00541-3
  • Li, C., Clementi, V.J., Bova, S.C., Rosenthal, Y., Childress, L.B., Wright, J.D., Jian, Z., and Expedition 379T Scientists, 2022. The Sediment Green-Blue Color Ratio as a Proxy for Biogenic Silica Productivity Along the Chilean Margin. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 23 https://doi.org/10.1029/2022GC010350
  • Stainbank, S., Spezzaferri, S., Rüggeberg, A., Raddatz, J., de Leau, E.S., Yu, S.M., Zhang, M., Kroon, D., 2021. Monsoon and tropical climate forcing on the physicochemical and thermocline characteristics of the Maldives Inner Sea: Insights from Marine Isotope Stages 1–2 and 10–13. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology https://doi.org/10.1029/2020PA004105
  • Stainbank, S., Spezzaferri, S., De Boever, E., Bouvier, A.S., Chilcott, C., de Leau, E.S., Kunkelova, T., Pichevin, L., Raddatz, J., Rüggeberg, A., Wright, J.D., Yu, S.M., Zhang, M., Kroon, D., 2020. Diagenetic influences on foraminiferal geochemistry from low latitude, shallow-water drift deposit. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 545 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2020.116390 
  • Kunkelova, T., Jung, S.J.A., de Leau, E.S. et al., 2019. A two million year record of low latitude aridity linked to continental weathering from the Maldives. Progress in Earth and Planetary Science 6, 21 https://doi.org/10.1186/s40645-019-0259-0

Non-Peer Reviewed

  • Bova, S.C., Rosenthal, Y., Childress, L., and the Expedition 379T Scientists, 2019. Expedition 379T Preliminary Report, Digging Deeper with the JR100: Extending high resolution paleoclimate records from the Chilean Margin to the Eemian. Zenodo https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.5553427

Meetings / Abstracts

  • Yu, S.M., J.D. Wright, R. Mortlock, R. Keating, J. Browning, and K.G. Miller (2022) Observing monsoonal intensities from the Maldives across the last two Glacial Terminations [Talk]. AGU Fall Meeting 2022, Chicago
  • Yu, S.M. (2021) Hydroclimate variability across glacial Terminations I and II recorded by planktonic foraminifera in the tropical Indian Ocean [Talk]. Graduate Climate Conference 2021 Online 
  • Burton, P., S.M. Yu, R. Ramos, and R. Mortlock (2021) Investigating monsoonal activity at the Maldives using Porites corals. Rutgers Project SUPER Symposium 
  • Burton, P., S.M. Yu, R. Ramos, and R. Mortlock (2021) Using coral paleo-proxies to observe the effects of freshening from the Bay of Bengal on the Maldives. Rutgers Aresty 17th Annual Virtual Symposium 
  • Yu, S.M. (2020) Insights into Indian Ocean thermocline dynamics inferred from δ15N and foraminifera analyses [Talk]. Rutgers Graduate Student Research Presentation Online 
  • Yu, S.M., J.D. Wright, R. Mortlock, S. Spezzaferri, S. Stainbank, and S. Kroon (2020) Southern Ocean driven δ13C minima across Termination I and II in the equatorial Indian Ocean [Talk]. GSA 2020 Connects Online
  • Yu, S.M., J.D. Wright, and R. Mortlock (2020) Synchronous thermocline dynamics across the equatorial Indian and Pacific inferred from multispecies foraminiferal analyses [Cancelled due to COVID-19]. GSA Joint Southeast and Northeast Meeting 2020, Reston, VA  
  • Yu. S.M. (2020) Late Pleistocene equatorial Indian Ocean dynamics inferred from multi-species foraminiferal analysis [Talk], Rutgers Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences Colloquium, New Brunswick, NJ   
  • Rosenthal. Y., J.F. Adkins, S.M. Yu, J.D. Wright, R.A. Mortlock, and Scientific Team of IODP Drilling Leg 363 (2019) Reconstructing the density structure of the western Pacific during the LGM: Results from IODP Expedition 363. AGU Fall Meeting 2019, San Francisco, CA
  • Stainbank. S., D. Kroon, M. Zhang, S.M. Yu, J. Wright, T. Kunkelova, A. Rüggeberg, E. de Leau, E. de Boever, C. Chilcott, and S. Spezzaferri (2019) Long-term Surface and Intermediate Water reconstructions: IODP359, northern equatorial Indian Ocean, Foram-Nanno Conference 2019. Fribourg, Switzerland  
  • Stainbank. S., A. Rüggeberg, D. Kroon, J. Raddatz, S.M. Yu, J. Wright, E. de Leau, M. Zhang, and S. Spezzaferri (2019) Glacial-Interglacial South Asian Monsoon dynamics: A Multi-species foraminiferal approach. 13th International Conference on Paleoceanography, Syndey, Australia 
  • Stainbank. S., D. Kroon, M. Zhang, S.M. Yu, J. Wright, T. Kunkelova, A. Rüggeberg, E. de Leau, E. de Boever, C. Chilcott, and S. Spezzaferri (2019) High-resolution foraminiferal geochemical records for the last 1.8 Myr: Diagenetic controls, South Asian Monsoon dynamics and oceanographic implications, 13th International Conference on Paleoceanography, Syndey, Australia 
  • Yu. S.M. (2018) Insights into the Monsoon System via the Paleo-Proxy Record [Talk]. Rutgers Archeological Society, New Brunswick, NJ
  • Yu. S.M., L. Godfrey, R. Mortlock, and J.D. Wright (2018) Maldives Hydrography Reconstruction over the Pleistocene [Poster]. Graduate Climate Conference 2018, Seattle, WA
  • Yu. S.M., L. Godfrey, R. Mortlock, and J.D. Wright (2018) Maldives Multispecies Foraminifera Hydrography Reconstruction over the Pleistocene and Oxygen Minimum Zone History [Poster]. Goldschmidt 2018, Boston, MA 
  • Yu. S.M. and J.D. Wright (2018) Maldives multi-species foraminifera thermocline reconstruction over the Pleistocene [Talk]. IODP Exp 359 2nd Postcruise Meeting, Nassau, Bahamas 
  • Yu. S.M., J.D. Wright, D. Kroon, and R. Mortlock (2017) Pleistocene Thermocline Reconstruction and Ventilation History in the Maldives [Poster]. AGU Fall Meeting 2017, New Orleans, LA  

Select Outreach and Service Experience

  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Geosciences (AAPliG) Mentor - 2022
  • Rutgers School of Graduate Studies (SGS) DEI Graduate Student Advisory Committee - 2022
  • Graduate Climate Conference (GCC) Workshop Chair on Environmental Justice - 2021
  • Rutgers EPS Graduate Student Organization Special Events Chair - 2021 
    • Hosted "Geosciences and Planetary Graduate School Application Process Webinar" with Geology Club
    • Organized geology tabling with Geology Museum for Rutgers Day 
  • Rutgers Undergraduate Research Journal (RURJ) Graduate Reviewer - 2021
  • "Ask a Geologist" Webinar Speaker, Rutgers Geology Museum - 2020
  • Rutgers Aresty Research Symposium Judge - 2018 and 2019
  • Rutgers Major and Minor Academic Fair Geological Sciences Representative - 2018
  • Rutgers Archaeological Society Guest Speaker, 2018
  • Careers in Earth Sciences for Junior College Transfers Speaker - 2016

Field and Oceanographic Experience

  • R/V Thomas G. Thompson, Argentine Margin Seismic and Coring Survey (52 Days) - 2019
  • D/V JOIDES Resolution,  JR100/Expedition 379T (Sedimentologist), Chilean Margin (30 Days)- 2019
  • Green River Formation, WY - 2019
  • New Jersey Coastal Plain - 2018
  • Bahamas Sea Level, Nassau Island - 2018
  • Flatirons (CO), Granite Mountains (WY), Yellowstone (WY), Grand Teton (WY), Stillwater Complex (MT) - 2018
  • Book Cliffs, UT - 2017
  • Adirondack Mountains, NY - 2016
  • Basin and Range Province Field Camp, NV - 2015
  • Catskill Mountains, NY - 2014

Professional Organizations 

  • American Geophysical Union
  • Geological Society of America 
  • Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research
  • Society for Sedimentary Geology 
  • Sigma Xi
  • Sigma Gamma Epsilon