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Xingchen Tony Wang



In June 2010, I received my B.S. in Geochemistry from Nanjing University, China.  Following, I came to Princeton University to pursue a Ph.D. in Geosciences.

My thesis work at Princeton is focused on marine nitrogen and carbon cycle in the past. My geochemical specialty is making nitrogen isotope measurements on organic matter within biogenic minerals. Any biogenic minerals (coral, foraminifera shell, shark teeth, etc.) contains a tiny amount of organic matter during the mineralization process, because it is much easier for the organisms to do the mineralization job with organic matrix serving as the crystal nucleus. Thanks to the "denitrifier method" developed in the Sigman Lab (requires 100 times less N than the traditional "combustion method"), we are able to measure the nitrogen isotopes of this little amount of fossil-bound organic N. This analytical technique works for any kind of biogenic mineral and provides unique windows into the past. My main application of this technique is using fossil corals (both shallow-water, symbiotic coral and deep-sea, non-symbiotic coral) to understand the past change in marine nitrogen cycle and its feedbacks to the carbon cycle and climate system, on both short timescales (i.e. Anthropocene) and glacial-interglacial timescales.

Research Interests

Global Carbon and Nitrogen Cycle

Paleoceanography and Paleoclimate

Stable Isotope Geochemistry

Nitrogen Cycle in Coral Reef Environments


Li G., X. T. Wang, Z. Yang, A. J. West, C. Mao and J. Ji, Dam-triggered organic carbon sequestration makes the Changjiang (Yangtze) river basin (China) a significant carbon sink. Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences (2015). doi :10.1002/2014JG002646

Erler, D.V., X. T. Wang, D. M. Sigman, S. R. Scheffers, B. O. Shepherd, Controls on the nitrogen isotopic composition of shallow water corals across a tropical reef flat transect. Coral Reefs (2015). doi: 10.1007/s00338-014-1215-5

Wang, X. T., D. M. Sigman, A. L. Cohen, D. J. Sinclair, R. M. Sherrell, M. A. Weigand, D. V. Erler, H. Ren, Isotopic composition of skeleton-bound organic nitrogen in reef-building symbiotic corals: A new method and proxy evaluation at Bermuda. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2015). doi:10.1016/j.gca.2014.09.017

Wang, X. T., M. G. Prokopenko, D. M. Sigman, J. F. Adkins, L. F. Robinson, H. Ren, S. Oleynik, B. Williams, G. H. Haug, Isotopic composition of carbonate-bound organic nitrogen in deep-sea scleractinian corals: A new window into past biogeochemical change. Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2014). doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2014.05.048


Department: Geosciences

Mentor: Daniel Sigman

Position: Graduate Student

Area: Paleoceanography/Marine Nitrogen and Carbon Cycle

Office: A15 Guyot Hall

Phone: 609-937-2536