Postdoctoral Researcher


Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-618, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02142



2021-Present–Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
 –Visiting Ph.D. Student, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
2015-Present – Ph.D. Candidate, Geology (Petroleum Geology), Peking University, Beijing, China
2011-2015 – Bachelor of Geology (Geology and Geophysics), China University of Geosciences, Beijing, China


Jian Ma now is mainly focusing on biomarkers and lacustrine carbonate.

In biomarker research, Jian manipulates the Raney-Nickel reactions, which is effective on releasing the hidden biomolecular compounds by sulfurization. This research is IBNLT modern sediments from upwelling systems, OMZs and anoxic lakes, and rocks in geological records.

For lacustrine carbonate, Jian conducts carbonate microfacies analysis with joint experiments of organic-inorganic geochemistry to reveal the origination of lacustrine carbonate, in order to reconstruct the Cenozoic paleoenvironmental evolution of the north Tibetan Plateau.

Select Publications 

Ma J., French K., Cui X.Q., Bryant D., & Summons R.E. 2021. Carotenoid Biomarkers in Namibian Shelf sediments: Anoxygenic Photosynthesis during Sulfide Eruptions in the Benguela Upwelling System. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 118 (29), e2106040118.

Xingqian Cui, Xiaolei Liu, Gaozhong Shen, Jian Ma, Fatima Husain, Donald Rocher, John Zumberge, Bryant Donald, Roger Summons. 2020. Niche expansion for phototrophic sulfur bacteria at the Proterozoic-Phanerozoic transition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 117 (30), 17599-17606.

Jian Ma, Chaodong Wu, Xingqian Cui, Ryosuke Saito, Gareth Izon, and Roger Summons. 2019. “Biomarkers reveal Eocene episodic marine incursions within the terrestrial Qaidam Basin, north Tibetan Plateau.” In AGU Fall Meeting 2019. San Francisco.

Jian Ma, and Chaodong Wu. 2018. “The origin of microbial lacustrine carbonate and its paleoclimate significance in the Qaidam Basin, the north Tibetan Plateau.” In 20th International Sedimentological Congress. Quebec.

Jian Ma, Chaodong Wu, Yizhe Wang, Jialin Wang, Yanan Fang, Wen Zhu, Lina Zhai, and Tianqi Zhou. 2017. Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of saline lake in the Tertiary: Evidence from aragonite laminae in the northern Tibet Plateau. Sedimentary Geology, 353, 1-12.