Dr Helen Talbot
Reader in Organic Geochemistry


I obtained my BSc in Environmental Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1995. I then began my PhD studies with Prof. James Maxwell (FRS) at the University of Bristol where I carried out research into the origin and significance of a group of biomarker compounds known as steryl chlorin esters (SCEs) which are produced by zooplankton when grazing on phytoplankton.

After completion of my PhD in 1999 I moved to Newcastle University and worked as a post-doctoral research associate with Dr Paul Farrimond on three projects in the area of hopanoid geochemistry developing new analytical techniques and providing new insights into the origins, diversity and complexity of natural distributions of these important biomarkers in modern environments and Recent sediments.

I am now a Reader in Organic Geochemistry and hold a European Research Council (ERC) starting independent researcher award.  

Roles and Responsibilities

PhD Selector for Geosciences in CEGs

MSc Dissertation Project coordinator

Associate Editor for the Journal Organic Geochemistry 


PhD Organic Geochemistry (University of Bristol, 1999)

BSc Environmental Chemistry (University of Edinburgh, 1995) 


Member of the European Association of Organic Geochemists (EAOG)

Honours and Awards

Pieter Schenck Award 2009 from the EAOG

(The Award is given every second year to a scientist who has made a major contribution in any specific area of organic geochemistry or a related field.)


Research Interests

  • The importance of methane as a climate driver in modern and ancient systems
  • The fate of terrestrial organic carbon at the land-ocean interface
  • Understanding and developing the potential of bacteriohopanepolyols as indicators of bacterial community structure, environmental conditions and biogeochemical processes in modern and ancient environments.
  • Using novel lipid biomarkers (BHPs, intact phospholipids, glycerol dibiphytanyl glycerol tetraethers etc.) to investigate microbial processes in soils, sediments, extreme environments etc
  • Analytical method development (including  HPLC and UHPLC, MS-MS, Ion-trap) and application of Liquid Chromatography-Mass spectrometry based analytical techniques in various fields including organic geochemistry and environmental studies.


Postgraduate Supervision

Current students 


Principal supervisor

Miss Kate Osborne

Miss Charlotte Spencer-Jones 


2nd Supervisor


Mr Jonathan Bradley


Recently completed

Mr Martin Cooke - project title "The role of bacteriohopanepolyols as biomarkers for soil bacterial communities and soil derived organic matter"

Mr Robert Gibson – Thesis title “The distribution of bacteriohopanepolyols in terrestrial geothermal ecosystems”


Esteem Indicators

Holder of ERC Starting Independent Researcher Award

Associate Editor, Organic Geochemistry

Member of Scientific Organising Committee, IMOG 2015

Plenary Session Chair, IMOG 2015

Invited Speaker. Gordon Research Conference on Organic Geochemistry 2012

Invited Session Chair. Gordon Research Conference on Organic Geochemistry 2008 and 2010

Invited Session Chair. IMOG 2007, 2009

Invited Keynote Speaker AGU, San Francisco, Dec. 2011

Invited Keynote Speaker EGU, Vienna, April 2011

Invited Speaker Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference, Knoxville, 2010

Convenor 14th and 19th Meeting of the British Organic Geochemical Society (BOGS2008)


Funding: Current

Quantifying Aerobic Methane Oxidation in the Ocean: Calibration and palaeo application of a novel proxy (AMOprox) ERC Starting Independent Researcher – 5.5 year project (2010-2016)


Funding: Recent

Effects of a warming climate on the key organic carbon cycle processes in the Eurasian Arctic PI. (Newcastle) NERC funded standard research grant (2012-2015). Joint project with P.I. Dr Bart van Dongen (University of Manchester, UK)

I am module leader on

CEG8696: Dissertation project in Geochemistry


I teach on the following modules:

CEG8621: Molecular Marker Compounds 
CEG8623: Maturation and the Generation of Oil and Gas