The 2017 Arne Richter Award for Outstanding Early Career Scientists is awarded to Yadong Sun for innovative research in Earth systems’ history resulting in a better understanding of the co-evolution of life and the physical environment across times of mass extinction.
Yadong Sun finished his PhD thesis on ‘Coupling climatic and biodiversity changes with volcanism during the palaeozoic–Mesozoic upheavals in South China’ in 2013 at the China University of Geosciences (Wuhan). He did part of his PhD research at Leeds University and at the University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. In his thesis, he combined sedimentological, palaeontological and geochemical information for improvement of the understanding of mass-extinctions. One of his research focus is conodont biostratigraphy and taxonomy. Conodont apatite is a widely used palaeotemperature proxy and understanding of taxonomy is essential when conodonts are used in isotope geochemistry. In addition, his focus is on mass extinctions, seawater geochemistry, oxygen isotope palaeo-thermometry and palaeoclimatology, including reconstructions of the global carbon cycle by using carbon isotope geochemistry. After having finished his PhD, Sun became a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Geozentrum Nordbayern. There he investigated the palaeotemperature trends of the Middle and Late Triassic. In this project, he used the oxygen isotope composition of conodont apatite as a proxy for seawater palaeotemperature. From 2017, Sun has a research fellow position at Erlangen-Nuremberg University (Germany) in a project on the Smithian-Spathian boundary supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). In his still young career, Sun has gained broad insight into most exciting aspects of Earth systems history and of mass-extinction events and received several awards for early career scientists in China. He is author and co-author of an already impressive number of publications published in international top-ranking journals including Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Lithos and Science. Yadong Sun gained his outstanding expertise in Earth systems history research through collaboration with a number of excellent scientists all over the world.