He Chao

Personal Information

More  >>

Supervisor of Doctorate Candidates  
Supervisor of Master's Candidates  


Dr. Chao He is a professor in School of Earth and Space Science at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC). His research interests spread in planetary atmospheric chemistry, exoplanet atmospheres, prebiotic chemistry, chemical evolution of life's origin, planetary habitability,  and detection of sign of extraterrestrial life.

He got his B.S. and PhD. from Jilin University. After that, he did postdoc research in Dr. Mark Smith’s group (University of Arizona and University of Houston), studying Titan atmospheric chemistry. From 2014 to 2023, he worked as Blaustein Fellow and then Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University, expanding his research area to atmospheric chemistry of planetary bodies in and out the Solar System. He studies prebiotic chemistry under plausible habitable environments to understand origin of life on Earth and elsewhere. He is the first to simulate exoplanet atmospheric chemistry through laboratory experiments, and the results have been used to analyze Hubble and JWST observations. His investigation also demonstrates that hydrogen sulfide greatly enriches planetary atmospheric photochemistry, producing sulfur-containing gases (false-positive biomarkers) through abiotic reactions and thousands of sulfur-containing organic compounds in solid particles. 

He has led and participated in multiple research projects funded by NASA, NSF, and other institutions (including 4 as Principal Investigator, 2 as Co-Investigator, and 5 as collaborator). He has analyzed data returned from NASA's Cassini-Huygens mission and Pioneer Venus mission, and participated in the instrumental design and test for upcoming missions to explore Titan and Venus. He has published 49 papers in international planetary science journals such as Nature Astronomy, APJL, Icarus, EPSL, and ACS Earth and Space Chemistry, including 19 as first author and 30 as a co-authors, with over 1300 citations and an H-index of 25. His research has received widespread attention and has been reported by media such as Science Magazine and Forbes.

He serves as associate Editor of Icarus, as reviewer for 20 Journals like Science, Science Advances, Nature Astronomy, Nature Communications, APJL, Icarus, EPSL, Scientific Reports, and as review panelist for several NASA and NSF research programs. 

September 2023, he started his research group at USTC studing planetary atmospheric chemistry and prebiotic chemistry in habitable environments. He has been involved in various aspects of serving China's planetary exploration missions and exoplanetary observation plans, including defining specific mission objectives, designing detection instruments, establishing testing methods, analyzing and interpreting detection data, etc. He is happy to discuss with students and colleagues who are interested in related research areas. Dr. He also welcomes undergraduates, graduate students, or postdoctoral researchers who wish to join his team to contact him at chaohe23@ustc.edu.cn.

Educational Experience

2005.9 2010.7

  • Jilin University
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Doctoral Degree in Philosophy
  • Postgraduate (Doctoral)

2001.9 2005.7

  • Jilin University
  • Material Chemistry
  • Bachelor's Degree

Work ExperienceMore>>

2023.9 Now
  • University of Science and Technology of China
  • School of Earth and Space Science
  • Professor
2014.6 2023.9
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
  • Researh Scientist
2012.5 2014.6
  • University of Houston
  • Department of Chemistry/Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Postdoc

Social AffiliationsMore>>

  • Associate Editor for Icarus, started May 2024

  • Member of American Geophysical Union, Division of Planetary Science-American Astronomical Society, American Chemistry Society

  • Review Panelist for NASA and NSF research programs, including NASA Exoplanets Research Program, NASA Habitable Worlds program, NASA Solar System Workings Program, NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Program, NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) program, and NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences grant programs (Planetary Astronomy, Astronomy and Astrophysics Research)