Christine Yifeng Chen


Portrait of  Christine Yifeng Chen
  • Title
    Research Scientist
  • Email
  • Phone
    (925) 422-8008
  • Organization

Curriculum Vitae (CV) | Google Scholar | ORCiD Profile | Twitter


Christine Yifeng Chen is a geologist and geochemist broadly interested in applications of radiochronometry to terrestrial paleoclimatology and nuclear forensics. Chen joined the Chemical and Isotopic Signatures Group in the Nuclear and Chemical Sciences Division in 2021. At LLNL, she is developing radiochronometry methods for nuclear materials and investigating radiogenic isotope fractionation processes in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Prior to joining LLNL, she was the O.K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences at Caltech. Chen's dissertation research focused on applications of uranium-series geochronology to lacustrine carbonates to reconstruct past changes in Earth's hydrological cycle. This work involved field mapping and characterization of paleoshorelines and porous carbonate build-ups called tufas, which she conducted in the desert drylands of the western United States and central Andes.

Research Interests

Radiochronometry, nuclear forensics, isotope geochemistry, mass spectrometry, uranium-series geochronology, lacustrine carbonates, tufas, paleohydrology, paleoclimatology

Media Highlights

Current Leadership and Public Engagement Activities

  • Chair, LLNL PLS Workforce & Communications Committee, 2023–present.
  • Co-founder, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Geosciences (AAPIiG).
  • American Geophysical Union Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, 2022–present.

Ph.D. Geology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 2020

B.A. Geosciences (summa cum laude), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 2013

Google Scholar | ORCiD Profile

(16) Chen, C.Y., Higginson, M., Kayzar-Boggs, T.M., et al. (2023) Separation of protactinium from uranium-niobium alloys for 231Pa-235U radiochronometry in nuclear forensic investigations. J. Radioanal. Nucl. Chem., 332, 2691–2706. doi: 10.1007/s10967-023-08928-y

(15) Stroup, J.S., Olson, K.J, ..., Chen, C.Y., Lund, S. P., McGee, D. (2023) A >200 ka U-Th based chronology from lacustrine evaporites, Searles Lake, CA. Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems, 24:3, e2022GC010685. doi: 10.1029/2022GC010685

(14) Engel, J.R., Denton, J.S., Lamont, S.P., ..., Chen, C.Y., Steiner, R., Kayzar-Boggs, T.M. (2023) A chromatography chemistry for purifying Pa from U-Nb metal alloys. J. Radioanal. Nucl. Chem., 332, 369–376. doi: 10.1007/s10967-022-08747-7

(13) Chen, C.Y., Kahanamoku, S.S., Tripati, A., Alegado, R.A., Morris, V.R., Andrade, K., Hosbey, J. (2022) Systemic racial disparities in funding rates at the National Science Foundation. eLife, 11:e83071. doi: 10.7554/eLife.83071

(12) Higginson, M., Kayzar-Boggs, T.M., Chen, C.Y., et al. (2022) Establishing discordance as a radiochronometric signature for nuclear forensic investigations: a multi-laboratory intercomparison exercise. J. Radioanal. Nucl. Chem., 331:12, 4799–4815. doi: 10.1007/s10967-022-08428-5

(11) Rodbell, D.T., Hatfield, R.G., Abbott, M.B., Chen, C.Y., et al. (2022) 700,000 Years of Tropical Andean Glaciation. Nature, 607. doi: 10.1038/s41586-022-04873-0

(10) Fendrock, F., Chen C.Y., Olson, K.J., Lowenstein, T.K., McGee, D. (2022) A computer vision algorithm for interpreting lacustrine carbonate textures at Searles Valley, USA. Computers and Geosciences, 105142. doi: 10.1016/j.cageo.2022.105142

(9) De Cort, G., Chevalier, M., Burrough, S., Chen, C.Y., Harrison, S.P. (2021) An uncertainty-focused database approach to extract spatiotemporal trends from qualitative and discontinuous lake-status histories. Quaternary Science Reviews, 253:107870. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2021.106870

(8) Cooperdock, E.H.C., Chen, C.Y., Metcalf, J.R., Guevara, V.E. (2021) Counteracting Systemic Bias in the Lab, Field, and Classroom. AGU Advances, 2, e2020AV000353. doi: 10.1029/2020AV000353

(7) Woods, A., Rodbell, D.T., Abbott, M.B., Hatfield, R.G., Chen, C.Y., Lehmann, S.B., McGee, D., Weidhaas, N.C., Tapia, P.M., Valero-Garcés, B.L., Bush, M.B., Stoner, J.S. (2020) Abrupt Arctic Warming Repeatedly Led to Glacial Retreat and Drought in the Eastern Tropical Andes During the Last Glacial Cycle. Nature Communications, 11, 5135. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-19000-8

(6) Chen, C.Y., McGee, D., et al. (2020) U-Th dating of lake sediments: Lessons from the 700 ka sediment record of Lake Junín, Peru. Quaternary Science Reviews, 244:106422. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2020.106422 (Invited research article.)

(5) Hatfield, R.G., Stoner, J.S., Solada, K., Morey, A.E., Woods, A., Chen, C.Y., McGee, D., Abbott, M.B., Rodbell, D.T. (2020) Paleomagnetic constraint of the Brunhes age sedimentary record from Lake Junín, Peru. Front. Earth Sci., 8:147. doi: 10.3389/feart.2020.00147

(4) Austermann, J., Chen, C.Y., Lau, H.C.P., Maloof, A.C., Latychev, K. (2020) Constraints on mantle viscosity and Laurentide ice sheet evolution from pluvial paleolake shorelines in the western United States. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 532:116006. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.116006

(3) Hatfield, R.G, Woods, A., Lehmann, S.B., Weidhaas IV, N., Chen, C.Y., Kück, J., Pierdominici, S., Stoner ,J.S., Abbott, M.B., Rodbell, D.T. (2019) Stratigraphic correlation and splice generation for sediments recovered from a large-lake drilling project: an example from Lake Junín, Peru. Journal of Paleolimnology, 1–18. doi: 10.1007/s10933-019-00098-w

(2) Chen, C.Y., Maloof, A.C. (2017) Revisiting the deformed high shoreline of Lake Bonneville. Quaternary Science Reviews, 159, 169–189. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.12.019

(1) Husson, J.M., Maloof, A.C., Schoene, B., Chen, C.Y., Higgins, J.A. (2015) Stratigraphic expression of Earth’s deepest δ13C excursion in the Wonoka Formation of South Australia. American Journal of Science, 315, 1–45. doi: 10.2475/01.2015.01

  • Presidential invitation to the White House for the CHIPS and Science Act signing ceremony, 2022
  • Excellence in Publication, Physical and Life Sciences Directorate, LLNL, 2021
  • O.K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellowship, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Caltech, 2019
  • Larry G. Benedict Leadership Institute Award, MIT, 2019
  • Wellington and Irene Loh Fund Fellowship, MIT Office of Graduate Education, 2017
  • Charles A. & June R.P. Ross Research Award, Geological Society of America (GSA), 2016
  • Farouk El-Baz Student Research Grant for Desert Research, GSA, 2016
  • Mamont Scholar Exploration Fund, The Explorers Club, 2016
  • Lewis and Clark Field Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, 2016
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT, 2016
  • National Geographic Society Young Explorers Grant, 2015
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2013–2018
  • Princeton Arthur F. Buddington Award, 2013
  • Princeton Benjamin F. Howell Junior Independent Work Prize, 2012