Dr. Michael Philben

PhD 2014 University of South Carolina (Marine Science)

BA 2010 Northwestern University (Earth and Planetary Science)

Research interests: My research focuses on the response of soil organic matter in peatlands and boreal forests to climate change. I use source-specific biomarkers and the biochemical composition of organic matter to determine its sources and diagenetic history. Compositional differences along natural climate gradients such as the Newfoundland and Labrador Boreal Ecosystem Latitudinal Transect (NL-BELT) provide an integrative measure of how organic matter cycling responds to climate change. Currently, I am using amino acids and their isotopic composition to investigate transformations of organic matter from plant litter to the subsoil.

You can reach me via email at: mphilben@mun.ca


Philben, M., Ziegler, S.E., Edwards, K., Kahler, R. and R. Benner (2016) Rates of soil organic nitrogen cycling increase with temperature and precipitation along a boreal forest latitudinal transect. Biogeochemistry (online January 22nd) DOI 10.1007/s10533-016-0187-7.

Philben M, Holmquist J, MacDonald G, Duan D, Kaiser K, Benner R (2015) Temperature, oxygen, and vegetation controls on decomposition in a James Bay peatland. Global Biogeochemical Cycles. 29, 729–743, doi:10.1002/ 2014GB004989.

Philben M, Kaiser K, Benner R (2014) Does oxygen exposure time control the extent of organic matter decomposition in peatlands? Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 119:2013JG002573. doi: 10.1002/2013JG002573

Philben M, Kaiser K, Benner R (2014) Biochemical evidence for minimal vegetation change in peatlands of the West Siberian Lowland during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and Little Ice Age. Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences 119:2013JG002396. doi: 10.1002/2013JG002396

Philben M, Benner R (2013) Reactivity of hydroxyproline-rich glycoproteins and their potential as biochemical tracers of plant-derived nitrogen. Organic Geochemistry 57:11–22. doi: 10.1016/j.orggeochem.2013.01.003


University of South Carolina Presidential Fellowship Young Investigator Award

Sixth International Workshop on Soil and Sedimentary Organic Matter Stabilization and Destabilization (SOM6)

Marine Science Program Outstanding Publication Award 1st place

USC Graduate Student Day oral presentation competition