Mark Payne is originally from Columbia, South Carolina. After high school, Mark attended Clemson University for 4 years, earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering as well as a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. During his time there, Mark worked for Dr. Mark Thies in the Department of Chemical Engineering for 2 and half years in the Thies Research Group. His work focused on lignin, an abundant biopolymer that has promising applications in materials due to its high aromatic content among other properties. Working with the Thies Group, Mark developed a process that produces ultra-pure lignin (less than 100 ppm of key metals) from SLRP lignin for materials applications. Mark also worked with the Thies Group on a batch process for fractionating SLRP lignin by molecular weight utilizing a benign solvent system. Also during his time at Clemson, Mark was a member of Tiger Band, the Clemson student chapter of AIChE, Tau Beta Pi, and served as a teaching assistant for a course in undergraduate thermodynamics.
After graduating from Clemson in 2016, Mark enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a graduate student to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering. Mark officially joined the Green Group in January 2017 to work in the field of predicative chemical kinetics.