Donald E. Canfield

  • Campusvej 55

    5230 Odense M


1993 …2023
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Personal profile


Curriculum vitae

Name: Donald E. Canfield

Born November 14, 1957

Nationality: American

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.

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the person's scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Research Output 1993 2019

Experimental determination of pyrite and molybdenite oxidation kinetics at nanomolar oxygen concentrations

Johnson, A. C., Romaniello, S. J., Reinhard, C. T., Gregory, D. D., Garcia-Robledo, E., Revsbech, N. P., Canfield, D. E., Lyons, T. W. & Anbar, A. D., 15 Mar 2019, In : Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 249, p. 160-172

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The Sirius Passet Lagerstätte of North Greenland—A geochemical window on early Cambrian low-oxygen environments and ecosystems

Hammarlund, E. U., Smith, M. P., Rasmussen, J. A., Nielsen, A. T., Canfield, D. E. & Harper, D. A. T., Jan 2019, In : Geobiology. 17, 1, p. 12-26

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

A Mesoproterozoic iron formation

Canfield, D. E., Zhang, S., Wang, H., Wang, X., Zhao, W., Su, J., Bjerrum, C. J., Haxen, E. R. & Hammarlund, E. U., 2018, In : Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115, 17, p. E3895-E3904

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Bioturbation and directionality in Earth's carbon isotope record across the Neoproterozoic–Cambrian transition

Boyle, R. A., Dahl, T. W., Bjerrum, C. J. & Canfield, D. E., 2018, In : Geobiology. 16, 3, p. 252-278

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

carbon isotope
marine sediments

Contraction dynamics and respiration of small single-osculum explants of the demosponge Halichondria panicea

Kumala, L. & Canfield, D. E., Nov 2018, In : Frontiers in Marine Science. 5, 410, p. 1-11

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Activities 1986 2018


Donald Eugene Canfield (Visiting researcher)
2 Oct 201826 Oct 2018

Activity: Visiting another research institution

Keynote talk: The regulation of oxygen to low concentrations in the Bay of Bengal

Donald Eugene Canfield (Guest lecturer)
7 Sep 2018

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations

Ocean Deoxygenation Conference

Donald Eugene Canfield (Participant)
3 Sep 20187 Sep 2018

Activity: Attending an eventConference organisation or participation

Invited talk, Peking University: Breathing easy at night: the history of atmospheric oxygen

Donald Eugene Canfield (Lecturer)
14 Jun 2018

Activity: Talks and presentationsGuest lectures, external teaching and course activities at other universities

Forskningsmøder, PetroChina, Beijing, og feltarbejde

Donald Eugene Canfield (Participant)
4 Jun 201827 Jun 2018

Activity: Other activitiesOther

Projects 2005 2023

Press / Media


Donald Eugene Canfield


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Ilt nok, men hvor var dyrene?

Donald Eugene Canfield


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Enough oxygen on Earth long before animals rose

Donald Eugene Canfield & Emma Hammarlund


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media


Modtagelse af Æresdoktor-titel. Poitiers Université, France

Donald Eugene Canfield (Recipient), 25 Feb 2015

Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions

Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky Medal 2010

Donald Eugene Canfield (Recipient), 5 May 2010

Prize: Prizes, scholarships, distinctions