Postdoctoral Associate

phone (617) 253-9710

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
E25-601, 45 Carleton Street
Cambridge, MA 02142


2018-present –Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
2013-2017 – Ph.D., University of Bremen, MARUM, Germany
2010-2013 – M.Sc., University of Bremen, Germany
2007-2010 – B.Sc. University of Bremen, Germany

Research interests

  • Organic geochemistry
  • Lipid biomarker research
  • Cultivation and incubation experiments
  • Development of analytical methods


As an organic geochemist, I work at the interface of biology, chemistry and geology to investigate the role of microbes in the regulation of global biogeochemical cycles. My research focuses on the detection of microbial lipids in terrestrial and marine sediment settings. Studying lipid “fingerprints” allows us to characterize the microbial community that inhabits sediments, which play an important role in the regulation of the global climate and nutrient supply.

I am particularly interested in how microbes can thrive under extreme conditions such as energy limitation and extreme temperatures. Lipids are the main building blocks of the cell membrane, which constitutes the mechanical and physiochemical barrier the between inner cell and the external environment. Therefore, studying the molecular and isotopic composition of microbial lipids helps us understand how organisms modify their cell membrane to survive under harsh conditions. By investigating lipid biomarkers, my work contributes to understanding the molecular signals that are left by microbes in sediments and provides new insights in biogeochemical processes in modern systems and into the geological past.

Select Publications

Elling, F.J., Hemingway, J.D., Evans, T.W., Kharbush, J.J., Spieck, E., Summons, R.E., Pearson, A. (accepted). Vitamin B12-dependent biosynthesis ties amplified 2-methylhopanoid production during oceanic events to nitrification. PNAS.

Wörmer, L., Gajendra, N., Schubotz F., Matys, E.D., Evans, T.W., Summons, R.E., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2020). A micrometer-scale snapshot on phototroph spatial distributions: mass spectrometry imaging of microbial mats in Octopus Spring.  Geobiology,  18, 742-759.

Evans, T.W.*, Coffinet, S., Könneke, M., Lipp, J.-S., Becker, K.W., Elvert, M., Heuer, V., Hinrichs, K.-U (accepted): Assessing the carbon assimilation and production of benthic aches lipid biomarkers using lipid-RIP. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

Evans, T.W.*, Könneke, M., Lipp, J.-S., Taubner, H., Elvert, M., Hinrichs, K.-U (2018): Lipid biosynthesis of Nitrosopumilus maritimus dissected by lipid specific radioisotope probing (lipid-RIP) under contrasting ammonium supply. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 242, 51-63

Evans, T. W.*, Wörmer, L., Lever, M. A., Lipp, J.-S., Lagostina, L. Lin, Y.-S., Jørgensen, B. B., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2017): Size and composition of subseafloor microbial community in the Benguela upwelling area examined from intact membrane lipid and DNA analysis. Organic Geochemistry, 111, 86-100

Lagostina, L., Goldhammer, T., Røy, H., Evans, T. W., Lever, M. A., Jørgensen, B. B., Petersen, D. G., Schramm, A., Schreiber, L.* (2015): Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria of the Nitrosospira cluster 1 dominate over ammonia-oxidizing archaea in oligotrophic surface sediments near the South Atlantic Gyre. Environmental Microbiology Reports 7, 404-413.

Zhu, R.*, Evans, T. W., Wörmer, L., Lin, Y.-S., Zhu, C., Hinrichs, K.-U. (2013): Improved sensitivity of sedimentary phospholipid analysis resulting from a novel extract cleanup strategy. Organic Geochemistry, 65, 46–52.