Faculty Spotlight

Professor John A. Higgins

Title: Associate Professor of Geosciences

Research Areas:

Professor John Higgins' primary research interest is the evolution of the carbon cycle and the global climate system over Earth history.  One focus has been on processes that control the chemical composition of seawater, and how those processes have changed on geologic timescales.  Another is how on the chemistry of carbonate sediments is affected by processes that occur post-deposition.  These include early diagenetic recrystallization, dolomitization and hydrothermal alteration.  The tools Prof. Higgins has employed to study these include numerical models of chemical and isotopic biogeochemical cycles, as well as analysis of traditional stable isotopes of oxygen and carbon, and new isotope systems such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Higgins Research Laboratory


John A. Higgns, Associate Professor of Geosciences


Upcoming Semester - SPRING 2021

GEO 360 / ENV 356 - Geochemistry of the Human Environment
Humans have profoundly altered the chemistry of Earth's air, water, and soil. This course explores these changes with an emphasis on the analytical techniques used to measure the human impact. Topics include the accumulation of greenhouse gases (CO2 and CH4) in Earth's atmosphere and the contamination of drinking water at the tap and in the ground. Students will get hands on training in mass spectrometry and spectroscopy to determine the chemical composition of air, water, and soil and will participate in an outreach project aimed at providing chemical analyses of urban tap waters to residents of Trenton, NJ.

Past Semesters

GEO 203 - Fundamentals of the solid Earth
GEO 360 / ENV 356 Geochemistry of the Human Environment Class
GEO 362 / ENV 362  Earth History
GEO 534 - Geological Constraints on the Global Carbon Cycle


In The News



More recent articles

Monday, May 17, 2021
by The Department of Geosciences
These awards and honors were presented at The Department of Geosciences Class Day on Friday, May 14, 2021.
Monday, May 17, 2021
by The Department of Geosciences
Congratulations to the Class of 2021 and to the 2020-2021 Ph.D. Recipients.
Thursday, May 13, 2021
by The Department of Geosciences
The Department of Geosciences and Princeton University congratulates Dr. Alliya Amir Akhtar on successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis "Ca Cycling in Seawater: Insights From Isotopic Studies of Elasmobranch Teeth and Shallow-Water Carbonates" on April 29, 2021
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
by Morgan Kelly, High Meadows Environmental Institute
Extreme heat is among the most concerning and potentially deadly effects of climate change, especially for the rapidly growing and urbanizing populations living in the tropics. Yet, climate models tend to be unclear when projecting how high temperatures will climb on a regional scale, and often overlook the point at which heat is a risk to human...
Thursday, Apr 8, 2021
by The Department of Geosciences

BBC "Science in Action" Roland Pease interviews graduate student Katie Maloney (University of Toronto) about her discovery of multicellular macrofossils of algae that lived in the shallows of an ocean about 950 million years ago. Her and field team, including graduate student Jack Murphy (Princeton), found the macrofossils in the Wernecke...