Environmental Life Sciences
The College of Lib Arts & Sci
Marc Fontánez (he/him/él) is an Environmental Life Sciences PhD student with a joint appointment at the School of Life Sciences and the School of Earth and Space Exploration. He is a native of Puerto Rico and earned a B.A. in microbiology from the Universidad de Puerto Rico. After culminating his post-baccalaureate fellowship from the Woods Hole Partnership Education Program, conducting deep-sea research under Dr. Julie Huber, he joined ASU as a Research Technician and later as a graduate student, earning a Microbiology M.S. working on the biological carbon pump in oligotrophic ecosystems. Fontánez is now part of the Group Exploring Organic Processes in Geochemistry (GEOPIG) Biogeochemistry Lab, where he currently explores his new research aims. You can read more about Fontánez's research interests in the next section.
- M.S. Microbiology, Arizona State University, 2022
- B.A. Microbiology, Universidad de Puerto Rico–Humacao, 2019
Marc Fontánez's interest lies in understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of microbial diversity and dynamics that govern aquatic ecosystems. He applies molecular techniques to render possible the exploration of the regimes that may structure microbial communities throughout the ocean biosphere. This approach has been helpful for him, for example, in comparing the structure of free-living and particle-attached microbial communities in nutrient-poor conditions. These oligotrophic regions, such as the Sargasso Sea, are said to expand in a future warmer planet, and which consequences are not well understood. Therefore, Marc is keen to study how biotic-abiotic interactions shape the environment and how life adapts to a changing planet.
Today, he focuses on understanding the intersection between microbiology and geochemical processes by studying water-rock-life interactions within extreme environments such as terrestrial hydrothermal ecosystems.
Fontánez is an Environmental Life Sciences Ph.D. student with a joint appointment at the School of Life Sciences and the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University (ASU). He is a native of Puerto Rico, where he pursued an undergraduate degree in microbiology from the Universidad de Puerto Rico. During an internship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marc Fontánez became interested in ocean sciences after being trained by Julie Huber; he explored life in deep-sea basalt aquifers from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge using microscopy. In 2022, he received an M.S. from ASU, studying the biological carbon pump using molecular techniques as part of the Trophic BATS project. In addition, Marc has been part of four research cruises near the Sargasso Sea aboard the R/V Atlantic Explorer from the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, and took part of the ocean exploration expedition, In Search of Hydrothermal Lost Cities aboard R/V Falkor (too) at the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.
- Group Exploring Organic Processes In Geochemistry (GEOPIG) Biogeochemistry Lab, 2022–present
- Plankton Ecology Lab, 2020–2022
- Buessecker, S., Sarno, A.F., Reynolds, M.C., Chavan, R., Park, J., Fontánez Ortiz, M.A., Pérez-Castillo, A.G., Panduo Pisco, G., Urquiza-Muñoz, J.D., Reis., L.P., Ferreira-Ferreira, J., Furtunato Maia, J.M., Holbert, K.E., Penton, C.R., Hall, S.J., Gandhi, H., Boëchat, I.G., Gücker, B., Ostrom, N.E., Cadillo-Quiroz, H. (2022). Coupled abiotic-biotic cycling of nitrous oxide in tropical peatlands. Nat Ecol Evol. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41559-022-01892-y
- Fontánez Ortiz, M.A. (2022). Deciphering Connections Between the Microbial Communities of the Euphotic Zone and Sinking Particles in the Sargasso Sea (Master’s thesis) Available from Dissertations & Theses @ Arizona State University; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2717673709).
- Trembath-Reichert, E., Shah Walter, S.R., Fontánez Ortiz, M.A., Carter, P.D., Girguis, P.R., and Huber, J.A. (2021). Multiple carbon incorporation strategies support microbial survival in cold subseafloor crustal fluids. Science Advances. Sci. Adv, 7(18), 153–181. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abg0153.
Honors / Awards
- Schmidt Ocean Institute Bert of Opportunity
- School of Life Sciences MS Award
- Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences Grant-In-Aid Fellowship
- Graduate Excellence Award
- Partnership Education Program Alumni Career Development Fund
- Wood Hole Partnership Education Program Fellowship