Personal profile


Curriculum vitae

Name: Donald E. Canfield

Present position Professor of Ecology, Institute of Biology, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark
Tel.: +45 65 50 27 51, Fax: 45 65 93 04 57

Education B.S. in chemistry 1979, Miami University;
M.Phil. 1984, and Ph.D 1988 in Geochemistry, Yale University, New Haven.

Professional Experience:

Assistant in Research. 1982-1987, Yale University.
Visiting Assistant Professor. Sept. 1987-May 1988, Univ. of Michigan.
Research Affiliate. May 1988-Nov. 1988, Yale University.
NRC Research Associate. Nov. 1988-July 1991, NASA-Ames.
Visiting Scientist. May 1990-Sept. 1990, Univ. of Århus, Denmark.
Visiting Lecturer. August 1991-Dec. 1991, Univ. of Århus, Denmark.
Assistant Professor. Jan 1992-May 1995, Georgia Institute of Technology.
BAT 1b scientist (permanent position). Sept. 1993-Nov. 1996 Max Planck for Marine Microbiology, Bremen.
Professor of Ecology, Odense University, Denmark. Nov. 1, 1996-present.
Co-director, Danish Center for Earth System Science (DCESS). December 1997-2005.
Director, Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (NordCEE). 2005-2015
VILLUM Investigator, July 2017 - present.

Funded research:

Ancient Sulfur Biogeochemistry (5/92-4/95) NASA. 246,000 USD.
Biological and Chemical Dynamics of the Oxic/Anoxic Interface (1/97-12/99) Danish National Science Council.
1,900,000 Dkr.
Danish Center for Earth System Science (12/97-12/2002) Danish National Research Foundation (w/ Gary Shaffer and J. Ray Bates). 50,000,000 Dkr.
On-line nitrate analysis machine (Nov. 2002) Danish National Research Council, 300,000 Dkr.
Danish Center for Earth System Science (12/2002-12/2005) Danish National Research Foundation, 9,000,000 Dkr.
Nordic Center for Earth Evolution (1/8/2005-31/7/2010) Danish National Research Foundation, 40,000,000 Dkr.
OXYGEN (1/4/2011-31/3/2016) ERC Advanced Grant, 2,500,000 Euros.
VILLUM Investigator Grant (1/7 2017 - 30/6 2023), 37.861.450 DKK

Special recognition:

NRC Postdoctoral fellowship (1988-1991), NASA-Ames Research Center
The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (foreign member, elected 2002)
ISI Highly-cited researcher, Geosciences
Paper (Canfield et al Science, 2007) chosen as top Danish Science breakthrough in 2007
Fellow of the Geochemical Society and European Association of Geochemists (2007)
National Academy of Sciences of the United States (2007)
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (2007)
Fellow of the American Association of Microbiologists (AAM) (2008)
Vladimir Vernadsky Prize, EGU (2010)
Urey Award, EAG (2011)

Professional activities Member of Geochemical Society :

Member of ASLO
Member of American Geophysical Union
Associate Editor of American Journal of Science (1989-present)
Associate Editor of Limnology and Oceanography (1997-2002)
Editor of Geobiology (2003-present)
Associated Editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (2001-2006)
Editorial Advisor of Aquatic Microbial Ecology (1996-2006)
Editorial Board of Chemical Geology (2004-present)


Teacher of undergraduates and graduates in the Life History of the Earth class - BB67, BB502, Experimental Ecology – BB15, and Microbial Ecology – BBP84.

Research areas

I might consider myself a biogeochemist, a geobiologist, a microbial ecologist, or a variety of other things depending on whom I am talking to. Indeed, my work is multidisciplinary and involves elements of microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, and geology. In the broadest sense, I am interested in understanding the cycling of bioactive elements of the modern earth, and into the distant geological past. I am particularly interested in understanding how the chemistry of the Earth surface has changed through geologic time, and how this changing chemistry might have influenced the nature and structure of ecosystems and the evolution of life. This work takes us to modern environments including marine sediments, anoxic marine basins, and anoxic lakes. Our work also takes us to rocks deposited long ago. In total, we aim to understand how to read the chemical traces preserved in ancient rocks and how these traces can tell us of the nature of ocean and atmospheric chemistry.

We also explore modern microbes to understand how environmental variables like temperature, oxygen content, trace metal availability, or sulfate levels might influence their activity as well as the nature of any metabolic products they might leave behind. In this regard, we have been particularly interested in exploring the factors influencing isotopic fractionation associated with sulfur metabolism. Through this work we have been able to piece together the history of seawater sulfate concentrations and the relationship between sulfate levels and concentrations of atmospheric oxygen.


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