William D. Leavitt

Assistant Professor of Earth Science
Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor of Earth Science
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Simons Early Career Investigator in Marine Microbial Ecology and Evolution

Microbes are central players in Earths’ elemental cycles. Microbial cells, enzymes and reactive intermediates drive the biogeochemical cycles on our planet by supporting the establishment and persistence of chemical gradients, reaction networks and ecosystems. The research in my group centers on experiments designed to reveal the fundamental microbiological and environmental (physicochemical) controls that drive Earths' biogeochemical cycles. Using observations from stable isotope geochemistry, biochemistry and microbial physiology we work to constrain fluxes and transformation rates within a subset of elemental cycles central to life on Earth (C, H, O, N, S, P). To address these challenges we utilize state-of-the art tools — including stable isotope and organic geochemistry, in vitro enzymology, and the continuous cultivation and manipulation of aerobic and anaerobic microbes. Much of our experimental infrastructure is custom designed/built to our applications.  My research involves training and working closely with undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral scholars and colleagues around the globe. Their recruitment to and involvement in running projects, as well as the preparation of manuscripts and presentations at national and international meetings, is critical to the success of our research.  

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We are alwasy looking for bright, enthusiastic, self-motivated postdocs and graduate students at the PhD and Masters level to work in the Microbial Geochemistry & Geomicrobiology Group, here in beautiful Hanover, New Hampshire. A background and demonstrated independent research experience in isotope geochemistry, environmental microbiology, analytical or physical chemistry, and/or environmental engineering is preferred. Rigorous laboratory experience is requisite, as are strong written and oral communication skills. For students applying at the PhD level, a Masters degree or equivalent work experience is strongly preferred. 

Note: as of April 2021, we are only recruiting postdocs. Check back for graduate opportunities in the future. 


Please contact William.D.Leavitt at dartmouth dot edu if you are interested our on-going projects!

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Office: Fairchild 201; Lab: Steele 217
HB 6105
Earth Sciences
Ph.D. Earth & Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, 2014
A.M. Organismic & Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 2009
B.A. Natural Science, Hampshire College, 2006
Fossett Fellow, Washington University St. Louis 2014-2016
Marine Biological Laboratory, Microbial Diversity, 2008

Selected Publications

Cobban★, A., Zhou#, Y Weber, FJ Elling, A Pearson, WD Leavitt^. 2020. Cyclization of Sulfolobus acidocaldarius GDGTs changes in response to temperature and pH. Environmental Microbiology. doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.15194

Luxem&, K., WD Leavitt, X Zhang. 2020. Large hydrogen isotope fractionation distinguish nitrgenase-derived methane from other sources. Applied & Environmental Microbiology. doi.org/10.1128/AEM.00849-20

Taenzer#, L, J Labidi, A Masterson, X Feng, Rumble III, E Young, WD Leavitt^. 2020. Low apparent. Δ12CH2D2 in microbialgenic methane result from combinatorial isotope effects. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2020.06.026

Bertran&, E, A Waldeck&, BA Wing, I Halevy, WD Leavitt, AS Bradley, DT Johnston. 2020. Oxygen isotope effects during microbial sulfate reduction: Applications to sediment cell abundances. Nature ISME. doi.org/10.1038/s41396-020-0618-2

Taenzer#, L, P Carini, J Gaube★, B Bourque%, A Masterson, WD Leavitt^. 2020. Microbial Methane from Methylphosphonate Isotopically Records Source. Geophysical Research Letters. doi.org/10.1029/2019GL085872

Zhou#, A, Y Weber, B. Chiu, FJ Elling, A. Cobban★, A Pearson, WD Leavitt^. 2019. Energy flux controls tetraether lipid cyclization in Sulfolobus acidocaldarius. Environmental Microbiology. doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14851

Public Lectures & Fun field trips