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The University of Texas
Marine Science Institute
750 Channel View Drive
Port Aransas, TX 78373
Phone: 361-749-6711

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Lever, Mark

Mark Lever

Associate Professor
Department of Marine Science

Biogeochemistry, microbial ecology, geobiology, natural and anthropogenic controls on the carbon cycle in sediment

Office Location

Postal Address

PhD in Marine Sciences, Dept. of Marine Sciences, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA (2008).

Master of Arts in Marine Biology, Boston University Marine Program, Woods Hole, USA (2002).

Bachelor of Arts in Biology with Minor in Music, Boston University, Boston, USA (1999).

My research is driven by my interest in in Earth’s carbon cycle. I pursue research questions of broad significance concerning the mechanistic (how?) and quantitative (how much?) influence of microorganisms, humans, and abiotic factors on the short- and long-term fate of organic carbon in aquatic sediments and Earth’s crust.

Currently, I am particularly interested in the following areas:

(a) Influence of human societies on organic carbon sequestration in and greenhouse gas emissions from aquatic sediments. 

(b) Interactions between paleoenvironmental, sedimentological, geochemical and microbiological processes in controlling the long-term fate of organic carbon in marine sediments.

(c) Deciphering anaerobic microbial food webs by linking organic carbon chemical compositions to the microorganisms and biochemical processes that transform them.

(d) Role of macrobiota in driving carbon and nutrient cycling in marine and freshwater sediments.

(e) Design of sustainable strategies to enhance the burial of atmospheric CO2 in aquatic sediments. 

(f) Importance of tectonic processes and deep mantle-derived energy sources in sustaining subseafloor life.


Gajendra N, Berg JS, Vogel H, Deng L, Wolf S, Bernasconi SM, Dubois N, Schubert CJ, Lever MA. Carbohydrate compositional trends throughout Holocene sediments of an alpine lake (Lake Cadagno). Frontiers Earth Sci, under review.

Janssen DJ, Rickli J, Wille M, Sepúlveda Steiner OR, Vogel H, Dellwig O, Berg JS, Boffard D, Lever MA, Hassler CS, Jaccard SL (2022) Chromium cycling in euxinic basins challenges d53Cr paleoredox proxy applications, Geophys Res Lett, https://doi.org/10.1029/2022GL099154.

Sena C, Parkhurst DL, Tepley FJ III, Jiang F, van der Land C, Coelho JRC, Oliveira V, Lever MA, Ishizuka O, Arculus R (2022) Formation of calcium chloride brines in volcaniclastic-rich sediments, Frontiers Earth Sci, https://doi.org/10.3389/feart.2022.869567.

Huang X, Liu X, Xue Y, Pan B, Xiao L, Wang S, Lever MA, Hinrichs K-U, Inagaki F, Liu C (2022) Anaerobic methane production by wood-rot fungi via a new, halomethane-dependent pathway, Microbiol Spectrum e01700-22.

Deng L, Meile C, Fiskal A, Bölsterli D, Han X, Gajendra N, Dubois N, Bernasconi S, Lever MA (2022) Deposit-feeding worms control subsurface ecosystem functioning in intertidal sediment with strong physical forcing, PNAS Nexus 1:pgac146.

Han X, Tolu J, Deng L, Fiskal A, Schubert CJ, Winkel LHE, Lever MA (2022) Physical shielding promotes long-term preservation of biomolecules in lake sediments, PNAS Nexus 1:1-15.

Bruni ET, Blattmann TM, Haghipour N, Louw DC, Lever MA, Eglinton TI (2022) Sedimentary hydrodynamic processes under low-oxygen conditions: implications for past, present, and future oceans, Frontiers Earth Sci 10:886395.

Baumann KBL, Thoma R, Callbeck CM, Niederdorfer R, Schubert C, Müller B, Lever MA, Bürgmann H (2022) Trophic status and local conditions affect microbial potential for denitrification versus internal nitrogen cycling in lake sediments. mSphere 7:e010130-21.

van Grinsven S, Meier D, Michel A, Han X, Schubert CJ, Lever MA (2022) Role of redox zone and trophic history as drivers of methanotrophic bacterial abundance and community structure in lake sediments. Frontiers Environ Sci 10:857358.

Berg JS, Lepine M, Laymand E, Han X, Vogel H, Morlock MA, Gajendra N, Gilli A, Bernasconi SM, Schubert C, Su G, Lever MA (2022) Ancient and modern geochemical signatures in the 13,500-year sedimentary record of Lake Cadagno. Frontiers in Earth Sci 9:754888.

Outstanding Associate Editor, Frontiers in Microbiology (2021).
Whiteley Fellow, Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, USA (2018).
Distinguished Lecturer, European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling (2016-17).
Outstanding Reviewer at Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Sciences (2015).
Marie Curie Intra-European Postdoctoral Fellowship (2011-12).
Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – Dissertation Completion Fellowship (2007-08).
NSF-East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute fellowship (2007).
Schlanger Ocean Drilling Fellowship, IODP, U.S. Science Support Program (2006-07).
NSF Scholarship, Microbial Diversity course, MBL, Woods Hole, MA (2003).
Fellow, Sounds Conservancy, Québec-Labrador Foundation (2001-02).


Starting in fall 2023 I will be involved in teaching a graduate and undergraduate course at the Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas.

The undergraduate course will have a strong experiential component and include training components in field sampling, field and laboratory experimentation, and use of state-of-the-art geochemical and microbiological tools within the areas of biogeochemistry and microbial ecology.

My laboratory is currently under renovation and will expectedly become partially operational by early 2023 and fully operational by summer 2023.

All persons who are interested in interdisciplinary research on the cycling of organic carbon in sedimentary environments are welcome to contact me (mark.lever@austin.utexas.edu).

Similarly, I am always interested in supporting students with ideas of applying research in biogeochemistry and/or microbiology in areas outside the sedimentary realm, including but not limited to wastewater treatment, food and biofuel production, bioremediation, and recreational fields.