Madeleine Santos - Research Interests and Education

I am passionate about exploring the intersections of organic geochemistry, oceanography, and climate science. My work mainly focuses on unraveling the complex relationship between methane fluxes and climatic conditions in the Arctic,, which is undergoing rapid transformation due to anthropogenic warming. 

The Arctic region, characterized by its remarkable climatic sensitivity, is experiencing temperature increases at a rate more than twice the global average. This accelerated warming has the potential to trigger positive feedback mechanisms, such as the release of methane (CH4) from permafrost and other reservoirs such as gas hydrates. With CH4 being a highly potent greenhouse gas, it is therefore important to understand the dynamics of methane release in the Arctic in order to accurately predict and mitigate future climate changes. 

In my current study, one of the main objectives is to identify  potential biomarkers that are indicative of changes in methane fluxes in the Arctic over the past 12,000 years. In line with this, the first phase of my doctoral work will focus on characterizing the microbial CH4 turnover dynamics in present-day Beaufort Sea and Mackenzie River Delta lakes, where I will investigate organic proxies through combined biomarker analyses, (isotope-) biogeochemical measurements, and molecular approaches (DNA, RNA sequencing). Consequently, the second phase will delve on the past CH4 dynamics in the Arctic for the whole Holocene epoch (last ~12,000 years), using lipid biomarkers from the first phase. My doctoral research is involved in larger ongoing projects in close collaboration with other  institutions (ETH Zurich, AWI Potsdam, NIOZ, and ISMER). 

Ultimately, my research aims to not only shed light on the historical evolution of methane dynamics in the region but also contribute to our broader understanding of climate change drivers and their consequences.


Educational Background

Oct 2023 - now: PhD candidate at the University of Basel, Switzerland, in the Department of Environmental Sciences (Group of Prof. Dr. Moritz Lehmann)

Sept 2021 - Aug 2023: Master of Science ETH in Earth Sciences (major in Geology), Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich)

Aug 2020 - Aug 2021: Instructor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines (Diliman campus)

Jan 2020 - Jul 2020: Research assistant at the National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines (Diliman campus)

Jul 2019 - Aug 2019: Research intern at Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

Aug 2015 - Jun 2019: Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of the Philippines (Diliman campus)


Maglalang, E. J. M., Armada, L. T., Santos, M. C., Sayen, K. F., Dimalanta, C. B., Hsu, S.-K., & Yumul, G. P., Jr. (2023). Bottom simulating reflectors in the Manila Trench forearc and its implications on the occurrence of gas hydrates in the region. Marine and Petroleum Geology, 158(106538), 106538. doi:10.1016/j.marpetgeo.2023.106538

Zhang, H., Huang, Y., Wijker, R., Cacho, I., Torner, J., Santos, M., … Stoll, H. (2023). Iberian Margin surface ocean cooling led freshening during Marine Isotope Stage 6 abrupt cooling events. Nature Communications, 14(1), 5390. doi:10.1038/s41467-023-41142-8



Madeleine Santos