front of CELS building
News and Announcements

Faculty Mentor Spotlight: Dr. Ying Cui

Posted in: CSAM Research, Earth & Environmental Studies, Faculty Mentor Spotlight

Dr. Cui with her lab students
Dr. Ying Cui with her student researchers

Dr. Ying Cui, Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies, is a geochemist using Earth System Models to investigate changes in climate and the geochemistry of ocean and land. Dr. Cui and her students are interested in time intervals in the geologic past when the rate of greenhouse gas release was faster than the background rate. These include mass extinction events and extreme global warming events.

Dr. Cui provides critical research experience and mentoring for students at Montclair State interested in paleoclimatology. Her lab is very active, with a strong and collaborative group of student researchers. See what some of her students had to say about her and the work they’ve done below!

After a few years at Montclair State University, I began to lose hope that I would have the opportunity to get involved in research before my time here was done. That was, until I took Dr. Cui’s environmental isotope geochemistry course. Lucky for me, she invited us (or better yet encouraged us), her students, to join her paleoclimatology lab. Not only does she push us to do great things and be involved, but she also provides us support along the way. [S]he is incredibly inclusive and genuinely wants students from all backgrounds to have the same opportunities so that they may be involved in the scientific community. I am eternally grateful for our lab group and for her, our “leader” so to speak! I have learned so much from her and the collective that she is responsible for bringing together.

[Dr. Cui] is always looking out for the welfare of her students. For her, it does not matter if you are a traditional student or not, your age, nationality, gender or skin color. Everyone is welcomed to work with her because diversity and inclusion are not empty words for her.

Hermann Bermudez, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Management in Dr. Cui’s lab had this to say about her commitment to diverse students

The geosciences are notorious for their lack of diversity in nearly every single aspect from gender, sexual orientation, ability, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status yet one would be rather puzzled to hear that should they only see the research team working along Ying Cui. Despite the barriers to science many face, she has always had a keen interest in breaking down barriers and providing an environment that although rigorous, is supportive and core to the belief that everyone can succeed through all trials and tribulations. This was especially true for myself as I have struggled with a learning disability my entire life but only fairly recently received a diagnosis and treatment. While many others would back away out of unfamiliarity or not wishing to take additional steps to accommodate, Dr. Cui instead acted as any good researcher would do and became curious. This new frontier for me was a new frontier for her as well and she was right alongside supporting me and others.

When I first started my first year at Montclair State University, I knew I wanted to get involved with research. However, I did not realize how lucky I would be to get the opportunity to work with Dr. Cui. Even though I am only a freshman with limited experience, Dr. Cui was more than happy to provide me an opportunity to work in her lab and become more involved with earth sciences, for which I am grateful. Dr. Cui is the heart of the paleoclimatology lab at the university, and I look forward to working with her more throughout my time at MSU.

Freshman Earth and Environmental Science major Emily Cepin

Dr. Cui is so invested in our futures. She will constantly send us job postings, encourage us to publish our research, and provide us the opportunity to present our projects at national conferences, like the Geological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union.

Graduate student Maura De Palma (MS in Earth and Environmental Science)

[Without this experience with Dr. Cui] I wouldn’t be where I am in my last year of my bachelor degree, as well as what I would like to pursue later in life.

Senior Earth and Environmental Science major Ashley Greiss

Dr. Ying Cui’s understanding and compassion for all students are really admirable qualities. I appreciate her for making this year so transformative.