New Job at Tongji University

I am happy to announce that I have found a new workplace. In future I will work as an associated researcher/professor at the State Key Laboratory of Marine Geology in the School of Ocean and Earth Science at Tongji University Shanghai in the group of Prof. Dr. Yang Shouye. I am looking forward to work at this exiting workplace and deepen my knowledge of modern marine geochemistry in order to tackle all the questions arising in paleo-marine environments on Earth and beyond. The laboratory is a key lab for studying of marine geochemistry and has excellent reputation and equipment reaching from marine and submarine vessels to open ocean observation platforms and a state of the art geochemical clean lab and mass spectrometry facilities.

more about the lab here

convening session 7f at Goldschmidt 2019

Co-evolving life and environments through deep time

Axel Hofmann (University of Johannesburg)
Aubrey Zerkle (University of St Andrews)
Tais W. Dahl (University of Copenhagen, Natural History Museum)
Benjamin Johnson (University of Colorado at Boulder) 

The Earth surface has seen tremendous changes through time, as recorded in its volcano-sedimentary record. Cooling of the Earth interior, secular changes in tectonic processes and the composition of the lithosphere, the evolution of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the appearance and radiation of life all left their imprint to be deciphered with an ever-growing set of geochemical tools. This theme invites session contributions that address the co-evolution of life with Earth’s surface environments over geologic time. It aims to focus on environmental and geological drivers of biospheric evolution, the imprint of life on the Earth system, and associated biogeochemical feedbacks. Prospective topics include, but are not limited to, the origin of life and Hadean habitability, the geochemical histories of the Precambrian atmosphere and oceans, changes in surface processes and their sedimentary products, causes and consequences of rapid biogeochemical change vs stasis in Earth history, microfossil or molecular records of early eukaryotic evolution, the Ediacaran-early Paleozoic transition, and the environmental drivers of mass extinctions and radiations in the Phanerozoic. We seek contributions approaching these questions using a wide range of cross-disciplinary methods and novel analytical techniques, spanning geological, geochemical, biomolecular and modelling approaches.

Convening a session at EGU Vienna 2018

Together with such excellent colleagues from the Precambrian geology field as Graham Shields, Daniel LeHeron and Sebastian Viehmann I am convening a session of biogeochemistry and evolution from the Archean to the Neoproterozoic. The preliminary session abstract is:

Palaeoenvironments of the Precambrian World:

from the Archean via Snowball Earth and beyond

Fundamental key parameters to understand the evolution of life and Earth's habitats involve the interaction between the atmos-, hydros- and biospheres. For instance, the redox- evolution and the geodynamical evolution during Precambrian times played a fundamental role in shaping ancient environments. In this session we invite contributions from combined fields of sedimentology, (bio)geochemistry, numeric modelling, palaeontology and geophysics, ranging in the timeframe from the origin of life until Snowball Earth and beyond. We discuss the (co-)evolution of the atmosphere, biosphere and oceans and also try to understand how much better the Neoproterozoic glaciations are constrained since the last 20 years and what the sedimentary record offers to understand the behaviour of the ancient ice masses, and how it compares to Phanerozoic sedimentary successions.


hope to see you all at EGU this spring


groundbreaking new hypothesis on why life diversified on Earth after the Cambrian explosion

'Refined control of cell stemness allowed animals to evolve in the oxic realm' by Emma U. Hammarlund, Kristoffer von Stedingk and Sven Påhlman


Animal diversification on Earth has long been presumed to be associated with the increasing extent of oxic niches. Here, we challenge that view. We start with the fact that hypoxia (<1–3% O2) maintains cellular immaturity (stemness), whereas adult stem cells continuously—and paradoxically—regenerate animal tissue in oxygenated settings. Novel insights from tumour biology illuminate how cell stemness nevertheless can be achieved through the action of oxygen-sensing transcription factors in oxygenated, regenerating tissue. We suggest that these hypoxia-inducible transcription factors provided animals with unprecedented control over cell stemness that allowed them to cope with fluctuating oxygen concentrations. Thus, a refinement of the cellular hypoxia-response machinery enabled cell stemness at oxic conditions and, then, animals to evolve into the oxic realm. This view on the onset of animal diversification is consistent with geological evidence and provides a new perspective on the challenges and evolution of multicellular life.

source: Nature Ecology and Evolution