★ Applied Stratigraphy and Palaeontology: Current studies focus on stratigraphical and palaeontological applications in exploration of fossil fuel and mineral resources. Multidisciplinary approaches are emphasized in comprehensive studies of marine and terrestrial strata containing energy resources, palaeogeographic reconstruction, the formation of hydrocarbon source rocks and palaeontological evolution, comprehensive stratigraphic study of sediment and strata-bound minerals.
★ Geobiology and Reconstruction of Ecosystems in Critical Geological Periods: Researches focus on the investigation of molecular fossils and vital elements such as oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur. Special interests include molecular fossils from microbial ecosystem, involving elemental geologic cycles between organic and inorganic materials and important for understanding the interactions of organisms with geological process, including land erosion, sea-level change, anoxia or euxinia, and extreme environments, and ecosystem concept in studies of important biota
★ Studies on Selected Fossil Groups and Critical Regions: The rich and diverse fossil materials and the complex geological history of China have left many unexplored territories for further detailed work on regional geological history, potentially important for further advancement in palaeontology.
★ Integrative Studies of Molecular Systematics and the Fossil Record: These studies combine the methods and data of palaeontology and molecular systematics in exploring the mode, rate and diversity changes in biological evolution during geological history. The role of the fossil record in reconstructing the Tree of Life (phylogenetics) and the chronology of organismal evolution (phylochronology) is emphasized.
★ Co-evolution of Life and Environment in Geological History: Studies emphasize the processes and mechanisms involving major ecosystem transitions, geological background for the Cambrian Explosion, origin of land ecosystems, and global climate change and biological evolution during the Cenozoic. By combining data from palaeontology, sedimentology, and geochemistry, we provide historical lessons for sustainable development and biodiversity preservation on modern Earth.
★ Important Fossil Biota: Special interests include the systematics, palaeogeography, and palaeoclimatology of important fossil biota; the origin, diversification, and extinction of major fossil groups in geological history.
★ Global Chronostratigraphy, High-precision Stratigraphy and Comprehensive Stratigraphy: The goal of this research direction is to establish a global chronostratigraphic system and to provide a universal time scale for the study of Earth history and the process of life. Primary interests include the establishment of Chinese standards for the Cambrian and Ordovician systems, and the global stratotype section and points (GSSPs) for the Middle/Upper Cambrian boundary, the Cambrian/Ordovician boundary, the Silurian/Devonian boundary, and the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary, as well as the stage boundaries within the Lopingian (upper Permian) in China.
★ Mesozoic-Cenozoic Non-Marine Ecosystems and Palaeogeography: East Asia has been dominated by non-marine ecosystems since the Indo-China Orogeny in the Triassic, with common Mesozoic volcanic activities and volcano-lacustrine deposits. Researches aim to establish the Mesozoic stratigraphic systems of particularly non-marine Jurassic and Cretaceous successions in China to establish a global correlation scheme for Mesozoic non-marine sequences; to understand the evolution of Mesozoic-Cenozoic ecosystem and palaeogeography, and to understand the driving forces of the bio-evolution.
★ Evolutionary Patterns of Palaeozoic Marine Biodiversity: Researches focus on systematic survey of Palaeozoic biodiversity of the marine ecosystem, the temporal and spatial distribution of Palaeozoic biodiversity, and the relationship between biodiversity evolution and environmental change.
★ Origin and Evolution of Major Plant Groups: Researches in this direction emphasize the study of early vascular plants, Mesozoic ginkgoaleans, early angiosperms, reproductive structures and in situ spores of filicopsids, and ultrastructure of epidermal cells and in situ spores.