Personal profile



BSc Chemistry (Leiden, the Netherlands) 1995; Msc Chemistry (Leiden, the Netherlands) 1997; PhD Earth Sciences (Utrecht, the Netherlands) 2003

Other research

Recent Major Research Grants

  • 2018-2022           NERC (NE/R003386/1; £561K), Future Secular Changes & Remediation of Groundwater Arsenic in the Ganga River Basin, together with Polya, Goody, Krausen. Mondal, Lloyd, Lapworth & Marchant.
  • 2017-2021           NERC (NE/P007743/1; £88K), Exploring and imaging nano- to micro-scale graphite-organic interactions underpinning novel water treatments, together with Polya, Boult, Wogelius, Nabeerasool & Brown.
  • 2017-2020           NERC (NE/P01304X/1; £580K), Genetic and molecular basis of organic-arsenic-microbe interactions in arsenic prone aquifers, together with Lloyd, Shaw & Polya.
  • 2017-2020           NERC (NE/P006221/1; £98K), Can we detect changes in Arctic ecosystems? together with Wolff.
  • 2015-2019           H2020 Euratom (NFRP-06-2014; £270K), Development of the safety case knowledge base about the influence of microbial processes on geological disposal of radioactive wastes (MIND), together with Lloyd, Pimblott, Morris & Goodacre.
  • 2013-2016           NERC (NE/J023833/1; £630K), Predicting Secular Changes in Arsenic Hazard in Circum-Himalayan Groundwaters, together with Polya & Ballentine.
  • 2013-2015           TECHOLOGY STRATEGY BOARD (KTP0859; £162k). Adsorption and electrochemical oxidation of aqueous organic waste, together with. Polya, Wogelius, Boult, Brown & Miller.
  • 2012-2015           NERC (NE/J023426/1; £628K), The Geochemistry of Fossil Pigment Preservation, together with Wogelius, Manning & Sellers.
  • 2012-2015           NERC (NE/I024798/I; £467K), Effects of a warming climate on the key organic carbon cycle processes in the Eurasian Arctic, together with Talbot.

My group


In 1997, Dr van Dongen obtained his M.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Leiden and in 1998 he began his Ph.D. research at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research. There, he 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. His research showed that preservation through sulfurization 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 total organic carbon (TOC) records. In addition, the difference in δ13C between carbohydrates and lipids within single organisms is much larger than previously realized indicating that preservation of carbohydrates can also cause substantial changes in δ13CTOC records.
Upon completion of his Ph.D. in 2003, he accepted a PDRA position in the School of Chemistry at the University of Bristol. Research conducted in this capacity included reconstruction of tropical sea surface temperatures during the early Eocene using the membrane lipids of marine Crenarcheota from cores drilling in coastal Tanzania and a study into the role of a consortium of sulfate reducing bacteria and archaea in the formation of iron sulfide nodules.
In early 2005 he moved to Stockholm University for a second post-doc in the Department of Applied Environmental Science. During his time in Stockholm his research focused primarily on the effects of amplified warming in the Arctic region on the remobilization and 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, he moved to the University of Manchester to accept a lecturer position in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences,  was promoted to senior lecturer in 2012, and to reader in 2015. His current research focuses on the application of organic geochemical techniques to the study of biogeochemical processes. He supervises the organic geochemical laboratories in the Williamson research Centre and has extensive experiences with a large number of analytical techniques including GC and LC-MS, compound specific isotope and radiocarbon analyses, pyrolysis, FTIR and many kinds of extraction and separation methods. 
He has published over 70 publications, is an associate editor for Organic Geochemistry, board member of the European Association of Organic Geochemists and chair of the NERC Life Sciences Mass Spectrometry Facility Steering Committee.

Research interests

Organic geochemistry, Isotope geochemistry

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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