I use stable-isotope records to understand environments today and in the geologic past.

For my Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University, I studied the triple-oxygen (Δ17O) isotope geochemistry of natural waters and synthetic carbonates. This research included: (1) characterization of spatial and temporal variation of mass-dependent Δ17O in rain and river waters, (2) measurements and models of Δ17O in plant waters as a resource for paleoaridity reconstructions, and (3) equilibrium and non-equilibrium isotope effects during the formation of laboratory synthetic carbonate using triple-oxygen isotopes and 13C-18O clumped isotopologues in the carbonate.

In the Yeung lab, I am studying the chemical transformations of nitrogen in the global nitrogen cycle using the clumped isotopes of N2 (14N14N, 14N15N and 15N15N). I am especially interested in the development of new isotopic methods and datasets to study the Earth system.

Shuning splits her time between Rice and UCLA. She is currently in residence at UCLA.

Shuning Li

Shuning Li

Academic Background

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, UCLA, 2016 -
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, Rice University 2015 - 2016
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University 2015
  • B.S., University of Science and Technology of China 2009



  1. Yeung., L. Y., S. Li, I. E. Kohl, E. A. Schauble, N. E. Ostrom, J. A. Haslun, T. P. Fischer, and E. D. Young, “Extreme enrichment in atmospheric 15N15N,” in preparation.

  2. Hu, H., L. Y. Yeung, S. Li, I. Mellor-Crummey, B. Li, J. L. Ash, N. E. Rollins, and W. M. Berelson, “Determination of O2 clumped-isotope composition and O2/Ar ratios in seawater using gas chromatography and high-resolution isotope-ratio mass spectrometry,” in revision.

  3. Li, S., N. E. Levin, K. Soderberg, K. J. Dennis, and K. K. Caylor, "Triple oxygen isotope composition of leaf waters in Mpala, central Kenya," Earth Planet. Sci. Lett 468 (2017), 38-50. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.02.015

  4. Li, S., N. E. Levin, and L. A. Chesson, "Continental scale variation in 17O-excess of meteoric waters in the United States," Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 164(2015), 110-126. doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2015.04.047

  5. Freeman, H., X. Feng, S. Li, N. Zegre, J. C. Lin, G. Bowen, "High frequency trends in the isotopic composition of Superstorm Sandy," In Learning from the Impacts of Superstorm Sandy, Bennington, J. B. and E. C. Farmer, Eds., Elsevier (2015) 41-55. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-801520-9.00004-3

  6. Passey, B. H., H. Hu, S. Ji H. Montanari, S. Li, G. A. Henkes, and N. E. Levin, "Triple oxygen isotopes in biogenic and sedimentary carbonates," Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 141 (2014), 1-25. doi: 10.1016/j.gca.2014.06.006

  7. Berman, S. F., N. E. Levin, A. Landais, S. Li, and T. Owano, "Measurement of δ18O, δ17O and 17O-excess in water by off-axis integrated cavity output spectroscopy and isotope ratios mass spectrometry," Anal. Chem. 85 (2013), 10392-10398. doi: 10.1021/ac402366t

  8. Sheng, Y., Y. Zheng, S. Li., and Z. Hu., "Element mobility during continental collision: insights from polymineralic metamorphic vein with UHP eclogite in the Dabie orogen," J. Metamorph. Geol. 31 (2013), 221-241. doi: 10.1111/jmg.12016

  9. Gao, X., S. Li, Y. Zheng, “On the study of multiphase inclusions in UHP metamorphic minerals,” Acta Petrol. Sin., 27 (2011), 469-489.