Methane has complex dynamics in ocean waters and sediments with numerous biogeochemical sources and sinks. Measurements of carbon and hydrogen isotopes of methane can distinguish how different sources and sinks are influencing methane distributions. Conventional techniques for these measurements are often slow and labor intensive causing many previous investigations to be data limited. My research focus is on building a Cavity Ring-Down Spectrometer (CRDS) capable of rapidly measuring the carbon and hydrogen isotopes of methane with very high sensitivity and precision in-situ. This field portable instrument will massively increase the rate of data collection and allow for high resolution measurements of methane concentrations and isotopes.


  • 2012-present, Ph.D. Graduate Student, Dept of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY.
  • 2011, B.S. Chemistry & Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
  • Senior thesis title: Measuring the 34/32S ratio in atmospheric OCS using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectroscopy


  • September 2010 – July 2012, Research Assistant, Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, Saltzman Group


  • M. Leonte, J. D. Kessler, M. Y. Kellermann, E. C. Arrington, D. L. Valentine, S. P. Sylva (2017), “Rapid rates of aerobic methane oxidation at the feather edge of gas hydrate stability in the waters of Hudson Canyon, US Atlantic Margin.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, doi:10.1016/j.gca.2017.01.009.
  • Weinstein, A., L. Navarrete, C. Ruppel, T. C. Weber, M. Leonte, M. Y. Kellermann, E. C. Arrington, D. L. Valentine, M. I. Scranton, and J. D. Kessler (2016), Determining the flux of methane into Hudson Canyon at the edge of methane clathrate hydrate stability, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 17, doi:10.1002/2016GC006421.


  • Fall 2012, Teacher’s Assistant, Hydrology 
  • Spring 2013, Teacher’s Assistant, Chemical Oceanography
  • Fall 2013, Teacher’s Assistant, Chemical Oceanography
  • Spring 2013, Teacher’s Assistant, Introduction to Environmental Science
  • Spring 2017, Teacher's Assistant, Marine Ecosystems & Carbon Cycle Modeling


  • 2015, April 8-21, E/V Nautilus, Gulf of Mexico, USA
  • 2014, July 7-14, R/V Endeavor, North Atlantic Bight, USA
  • 2012, August 7-14, R/V Cape Hatteras, Gulf of Mexico, USA


  • 2016, Mihai Leonte, J. Kessler, S. Scolofsky, Investigating the emission, dissolution, and oxidation of CH4 within and around a seep bubble plume in the Gulf of Mexico, Ocean Sciences, New Orleans, LA. (Poster)
  • 2014, Leonte, M., J. Kessler, A. Chepigin, T. Weber, C. Ruppel, M. Kellermann, E. Arrington, D. Valentine, S. Silva. Comparison of Two Techniques to Calculate Methane Oxidation rates in Samples Obtained From the Hudson Canyon Seep Field in the North Atlantic . AGU General Meeting, San Francisco, CA. (Poster)

Current Member: Yes

Order Number: 5