In 1997, I obtained my M.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Leiden (Leiden, the Netherlands). After working for a brief period on an internship at the University of Leiden in cooperation with Unilever, I began my Ph.D. research at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (Royal NIOZ) under the supervision of Prof. Dr J.W. de Leeuw, Dr J.S. Sinninghe Damsté and Dr S. Schouten. There, I conducted research on the natural preservation of carbohydrates in marine sediments and the consequences for its preservation on the chemical and carbon isotopic composition of sedimentary organic matter. The major outcomes of my Ph.D. research, defended at the University of Utrecht in early 2003, showed that preservation through sulfurization in sedimentary organic matter is a more important mechanism for the preservation of organic carbon than previously thought. The enhanced contribution of normally labile organic carbon can have substantial impacts on TOC records. In addition, the difference in δ13C between carbohydrates and lipids within single organisms is much larger than previously realized and thus preservation of carbohydrates can cause substantial changes in δ13CTOC records as well.

Upon completion of my Ph.D. in 2003, I accepted a PDRA position with Dr R. Pancost in the School of Chemistry (Organic Geochemisty Unit and Biogeochemistry Research Centre) at the University of Bristol. Research conducted by myself in this capacity included reconstruction of tropical sea surface temperatures from the early Eocene to the early Oligocene using the membrane lipids of marine Crenarcheota from cores drilling in coastal Tanzania (The Tanzania drilling project) and a study into the role of an consortium of sulphate reducing bacteria and archaea in the formation of iron sulphide nodules. In addition, I served as an advisor of Ph.D. projects that involved the use of (off-line) pyrolysis techniques.

In early 2005 I moved to Stockholm for a second post-doc with Dr Ő Gustafsson in the Department of Applied Environmental Science (ITM; Stockholm University). During my time in Stockholm my research focused primarily on the effects of amplified warming in the Arctic region on the remobilization and relative preservation of recalcitrant soil organic carbon. The overarching objectives were to improve our understanding of the biogeochemical fate of soil organic carbon from large-scale releases to the Eurasian Arctic Ocean, using a combination of biomarker and compound specific radiocarbon analyses.

In April 2007, I began a permanent lecturer position in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester, and in 2012 I was promoted to senoir lecturer

Current Students

Previous Students

Research interests

Organic geochemistry, Isotope geochemistry, Fossil biomarkers

Professional affiliations

  • The European Association of Organic Geochemists
  • The American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • The Permafrost Young Researchers Network (PYRN)

Recent publications


  • Barden H. E., U. Bergmann, N. P. Edwards, V. M. Egerton, P. L. Manning, S. Perry, A. van Veelen, R. A. Wogelius, B. E. van Dongen. 2014. Bacteria or melanosomes? A geochemical analysis of micro-bodies on a tadpole from the Oligocene Enspel Formation of Germany. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments .
  • Edwards N.P., P. L. Manning, U. Bergmann, P. L. Larson, B. E. van Dongen, W. I. Sellers, S. M. Webb, D. Sokaras, R. Alonso-Mori, K. Ignatyev, H. E. Barden, A. van Veelen, J. Anné, V. M. Egerton and R. A. Wogelius. 2014. Leaf metallome preserved over 50 million years. Metallomics. 6, 774-782.


  • Fellowes, J.W., R.A.D. Pattrick, C. Boothman, W.M.M. Al Lawati, B.E. van Dongen, J.M. Charnock, J.R. Lloyd and C.I. Pearce. 2013. Microbial selenium transformations in seleniferous soils. European Journal of Soil Science. 1-10. http://dx.doi:10.1111/ejss.12051
  • Fraser S., B.E. van Dongen, A. Thompson and T. Insoll. 2013. Organic Geochemical Analysis of Archaeologogical and Contemporary Medicine Pots. In Temporalising Anthropology, edited by Insoll, T., MacLean, R., and Kankpeyeng, B., 247-252. Africa Magna Verlag.
  • van Dongen B.E. and S. Fraser. 2013. lipid biomarkers characterisation, x-Ray Fluorescence and X-Ray diffraction Analysis of Medicine Clay Samples. In Temporalising Anthropology, edited by Insoll, T., MacLean, R., and Kankpeyeng, B., 243-246. Africa Magna Verlag.
  • Feng X., J.E. Vonk, B.E. van Dongen, Ö. Gustafsson, I.P. Semiletov, O.V. Dudarev, Z. Wang, D.B. Montluçon, L. Wacker, and T.I. Eglinton. 2013. Differential mobilization of terrestrial carbon pools in Eurasian Arctic river basins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 110, no. 35 14168-14173. http://dx.doi:10.1073/pnas.1307031110


  • Vonk J., L. Sánchez-García, B.E. van Dongen, V. Alling, D. Kosmach, A. Charkin, I. Semiletov, O. Dudarev, N. Shakhova, P. Roos, T.I. Eglinton, A.Andersson, Ö. Gustafsson. 2012. Activation of old carbon by erosion of coastal and subsea permafrost in Arctic Siberia. Nature. 489, 137-140.
  • Al Lawati W.M., J.-S. Jean, T. Kulp, M.-K. Lee, D. Polya, B.E. van Dongen. 2012. Characterisation of organic matter associated with goundwater arsenic in reducing aquifers of Southwestern Taiwan. Journal of Hazardous Materials. Published online. j.jhazmat.2012.08.007
  • Al Lawati W.M., A. Rizoulis, E. Eiche, C. Boothman, D.A. Polya J.R. Lloyd, M. Berg, P.V. Aguilar, B.E. van Dongen. 2012. Characterisation of organic matter and microbial communities in contrasting arsenic-rich Holocene and arsenic-poor Pleistocene, Red River Delta, Vietnam. Applied Geochemistry. 27, 315-325. j.apgeochem.2011.09.030
  • Doğrul Selver A., H.M. Talbot, Ö. Gustafsson, S. Boult, B.E. van Dongen. 2012. Soil organic matter transport along an sub-Arctic river–sea transect. Organic Geochemistry. 51, 63-72. j.orggeochem.2012.08.002
  • Fraser S.E., T. Insoll, A. Thompson, B.E. van Dongen. 2012. Organic geochemical analysis of archaeological medicine pots from Northern Ghana. The multi-functionality of pottery. Journal of Archaeological Science. 39, 2506-2514. j.jas.2012.03.015