Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research
Royal Netherlands
Institute for Sea Research

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My project deals with the development of new lipid biomarker proxies for an-/aerobic methane oxidizers in present and past environments within the Netherlands Earth System Science Center (NESSC). A better understanding of the the sources, sinks and chemical reaction pathways in greenhouse gas cycling especially methane is important to constrain its impact on global climate changes. However, reliable biomarker tools for determining past methane concentrations in the atmosphere and the intensity of methane cycling are currently lacking. 

In this project, I´m using mutiple analyzing techniques like: GC, GC-MS, GC-MS-MS, GC-IRMS, UHPLC-HRMS and molecular techniques like 16S rRNA seq. We investigate diverse lipid biomarkers and their 13C signatures as proxies for gas oxidation processes: fatty acids, mycocerosic acids, hopanoids , n-alkanes, GDGTs and petroleum biomarker



10/2013 - 05/2016

Master of Marine Geosciences at the University of Bremen, Germany

Focus: Biogeochemistry, Geophysics and Marine Resources

Master thesis: Geochemical characterization of asphalt deposits in the Campeche Bay (southern Gulf of Mexico) - Insights in the persistence of heavy oil in the marine environment

10/2010 – 09/2013

Bachelor of Geosciences at the University of Bremen, Germany

Focus: Geochemistry, Marine Geology and Geodynamics

Bachelor thesis: Evaluation of the TEX86- paleotemperature proxy by archaeen cultures


Work experience


Student Assistant in the research group “Organic Geochemistry” MARUM, University of Bremen, Germany


Internship in the framework of the Master thesis at Shell Global Solutions, Rijswijk, Netherlands


Research project in the research group “Organic Paleobiogeochemistry” MARUM and MPI, University of Bremen, Germany


Awards and scholarships


Best Student Presentation Award at IMOG 2019, Gothenburg


BASIS (Benelux Association for Stable Isotope Scientists) Presentation Award


Scholarship NESSC (Netherlands Earth System Science Centre) exchange program


MARUM Research Award for Marine Science 2017 for master thesis - Geochemical characterization of asphalt deposits in the Campeche Bay (southern Gulf of Mexico)


EAOG (European Association of Organic Geochemists) Travel Scholarship Award 2016



Witkowski, C.R., van der Meer, M.T., Smit, N.T., Damsté, J.S.S., Schouten, S., 2020. Testing algal-based p CO 2 proxies at a modern CO 2 seep (Vulcano, Italy). Scientific RepoRtS 10, 1-10.

Smit, N.T., Rush, D., Sahonero-Canavesi, D.X., Verweij, M., Rasigraf, O., Cruz, S.G., Jetten, M.S., Damsté, J.S.S., Schouten, S., 2019b. Demethylated hopanoids in ‘Ca. Methylomirabilis oxyfera’as biomarkers for environmental nitrite-dependent methane oxidation. Organic Geochemistry 137, 103899.

Kurth, J.M., Smit, N.T., Berger, S., Schouten, S., Jetten, M.S., Welte, C.U., 2019b. Anaerobic methanotrophic archaea of the ANME-2d clade feature lipid composition that differs from other ANME archaea. FEMS microbiology ecology 95, fiz082.

Kurth, J.M., Smit, N.T., Berger, S., Schouten, S., Jetten, M.M., Welte, C.U., 2019a. ANME-2d anaerobic methanotrophic archaea differ from other ANME archaea in lipid composition and carbon source. bioRxiv, 558007.

Laso-Pérez, R., Hahn, C., van Vliet, D.M., Tegetmeyer, H.E., Schubotz, F., Smit, N.T., Pape, T., Sahling, H., Bohrmann, G., Boetius, A., 2019. Anaerobic degradation of non-methane alkanes by “Candidatus Methanoliparia” in hydrocarbon seeps of the Gulf of Mexico. MBio 10, e01814-01819.

Smit, N., Rush, D., Van Der Meer, M., Grassa, F., Villlanueva, L., Sinninghe Damsté, J., Schouten, S., Year. Proceedings of 29th International Meeting on Organic Geochemistry, IMOG 2019.

Smit, N., Grassa, F., Rush, D., Hopmans, E.C., Sinninghe Damsté, J.S., Schouten, S., 2018. Aerobic methane oxidation in soils as revealed by lipid biomarkers at terrestrial methane seeps in southern Sicily, Italy. EGUGA, 14480.