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, Mar 29, 2021
The heavy snowfalls and frigid days of this past winter in New Jersey let Princeton sophomore Grace Liu finally experience the Northeastern winter she’d only imagined growing up in her Florida hometown of palm trees and sandy beaches.
Friday, Mar 26, 2021
by Laura Potts, University of East Anglia
Many tropical cyclone-prone regions of the world are expected to experience storm systems of greater intensity over the coming century.
Wednesday, Mar 17, 2021
by Kimberly M. S. Cartier, EOS, science news by AGU
The history of geoscience is filled with racist ideology and problematic foundational figures. A new set of modules aims to help educators by offering more inclusive context for inequities in the field today. (Wiggins '21/Chen '13 mention)
Wednesday, Mar 3, 2021
by Lynn Thoman, 3 Takeaways
Did you know that Antarctica used to be ice-free and earth used to be 20 degrees warmer than it is now? Find out why climate change then wasn’t a problem, and why it is now with Princeton University’s Daniel Sigman. Also find out how climate change caused horses to grow from the size of large house cats to their size today. (Audio only)
Tuesday, Feb 9, 2021
Wintertime outbreaks of COVID-19 have been largely driven by whether people adhere to control measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, according to a study published Feb. 8 in Nature Communications by Princeton University researchers. (Vecchi mention)