Tais Wittchen Dahl

Tais Wittchen Dahl

Associate Professor

  • Section for Geobiology

    Øster Voldgade 5-7, 1350 København K

    Phone: +45 35 32 23 56

Opdateret CV og forskningsnyheder på min forskningshjemmeside: www.geobiology.dk

Se evt. engelsk version. 

Recent updates are found on the website of my research group: www.geobiology.dk


PhD Geochemistry, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science fellow 2005-2009

MSc Geophysics University of Copenhagen 2004-2005

BSc Physics, University of Copenhagen 2000-2004

Work experience

Associate Professor of Geobiology, University of Copenhagen 2018 –

Carlsberg Distinguished Associate Professor Fellowship 1.6.2017–31.5.2020

Tenure-Track Assistant Professor of Geobiology, University of Copenhagen, 2014–18

Villum Young Investigator, Natural History Museum, University of Copenhagen 1.1.2013–31.12.2015

Postdoctoral researcher, Center for Macroecology, Evolution, Climate, U. Copenhagen      1.6.2012–31.12.2012

Villum Kann Rasmussen postdoctoral research fellow, Univ. of Southern Denmark            1.6.2010–31.5.2012

Danish National Research Council Postdoctoral research fellow, Harvard University          1.6.2009-31.5.2010

Postdoctoral researcher, Nordic Center for Earth Evolution, University of Copenhagen      1.4.2012–31.5.2012

Consultant for Rockwool International A/S                                       1.2.2009–31.3.2009

NASA Planetary Biology Internship, Arizona State University       1.11.2006–31.12.2006

SURF research fellowship, California Institute of Technology         15.6.2003–31.8.2003

Teaching Assistant, Mars Youth Lab, University of Copenhagen    1.9.2003-31.8.2005

Research Assistent for GEUS, GPR-survey in Canada.                    1.11.2000–17.11.2000

Student Assistant, Ødegaard (now Schlumberger) Oil & Gas Expl.   1.5.2001-1.6.2003.

General competences

Biogeochemistry, geobiology, isotope geochemistry, environmental science, planetary science, geology

Specialized expertise

Modelling/programming: Matlab, C, html,

Experimental/analytical: Isotope mass spectrometry and ion chromatography (C, S, N, Mo, Fe, U), X-ray Absorption (synchrotron), Field-based environmental chemistry (O2, H2S, Fe)

Trans-national mobility

Harvard Univ.. June 2011. Visiting researcher, w/Prof. A. Knoll and Dr. B. Gill
Arizona State Univ., February 2010. Visiting researcher, w/Dr. G. Gordon Prof. A. Anbar
Harvard University 2009-2010: VKR fellow, w/Prof. A. Knoll
Arizona State Univ. 2007 Ph.d. stay abroad, w/Prof. A. D. Anbar
Arizona State Univ. 2006 NASA Planetary Biology Internship, w/Prof. A. D. Anbar
California Institute of Technology, 2004: Invited stay abroad. w/Prof. D. Stevenson
California Institute of Technology, 2003: SURF fellowship. w/Prof. D. Stevenson
California Institute of Technology, 2002-2003, Caltech-Copenhagen Exchange Program.


• Adjunct Professor China University of Geosciences, Wuhan (2019)

• ERC Starting Grant Interview, Panel PE10. 2016

• Inge Lehmann's Scholarship, Research visit at University of Exeter (2013)

• Member of the board, Young Academy, Royal Danish Acad. of Sci. and Letters (2012)

• Member of Young Academy, Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (2011)

• NASA Planetary Biology Internship, Arizona State University (2006)

• Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, California Institute of Technology (2003)

• University of Copenhagen, Geophysical Student Foundation (2003)

• Julie Damms Studiefond (2003)

• Julie Marie Vinters Rejselegat (2003)

• Oticon Fonden Rejselegat (2003)

• Bodil Pedersen Foundation (2002)

• Univ. Copenhagen – California Institute of Technology Exchange Fellowship (2002)


DFF-ERC project. PlantImpact - Linking mesocosm experiments to... models (8102-00005B) 2018

DFF Research Project 1. The influence of land plants on Earth's oxygen (7014-00295A) 2018

Carlsberg Distinguished Associate Professor Fellowship (CF16-0876), 2017. PI

Geocenter Danmark, EarthTalks bi-weekly seminars 2017-19

Carlsberg Foundation, infrastructure 2015. PI

National Science Foundation, Earth-Life Transition Program 2014-16.

Villum Foundation, Young Investigator Grant 2013-15. PI, (VKR023127)

Villum Kann Rasmussen Research Fellow 2010-2012. PI (1168439)

Danish Council for Independent Research fellow 2009-10, PI (09-065813)

University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science PhD stipend, 50% sponsored by the Danish National Research Foundation. PI

Teaching and supervisory experience

I have supervised four students at Univ. Copenhagen and Univ. Southern Denmark (MSc Julius Havsteen, MSc Sune F. Månsson, MSc, BSc Magnus Harding, BSc Aske Lohse Sørensen, BSc Salik Rosing, KU, 2009; MSc Simon Svane, SDU 2011), respectively. I organize the Geoengineering (MSc Climate Change) and Origins (Altings Oprindelse for BSc Science students) and have previously lectured Origins in fall 2012 at Univ. Copenhagen, BB512 Population Ecology in the fall 2011, NAT501 Science Projects spring 2012, KE801 Inorganic Chemistry 2011 all at Univ. Southern Denmark and gave a lecture at EPS 181 Historical Geobiology in 2009 at Harvard. Further, I taught science at the Kopernikursus astrobiology summer course 2004, 2006 and Mars Youth Lab (2003–2005) at Univ. Copenhagen, and at the Open University in Aarhus in the spring 2013.

Scientific Service

Organizer at international conferences:

  • Theme 09: Evolution of Earth’s environment, 23rd Goldschmidt, Venice, 2013
  • Session 09f Global O2 levels in the Neoprotero- and Paleozoic, 23rd Goldschmidt, Venice, 2013
  • Session 13h: Trace metal cycling in sediments 22nd Goldschmidt, Montreal, Canada, 2012

Invited reviewer for international science citation index journals

  • Science
  • Science Advances
  • Nature Geoscience
  • Nature Scientific Reports
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)
  • Earth and Planetary Science Letters (EPSL)
  • Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta (GCA)
  • Geobiology
  • Chemical Geology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Precambrian Research
  • Journal of Analytical Spectroscopy
  • Applied Geochemistry
  • Geochemical Journal (GJ)
  • ERC Starting Grant 2nd round
  • The National Science Foundation of USA (NSF)
  • The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
  • TED-x Copenhagen 2013

 Research results

To date, my most important scientific contributions include:


1)     A theoretical study of metal-silicate mixing during impact-driven planet accretion that led to a new understanding of the distribution of siderophile elements in the Earth and Moon. The physical and chemical model has important implications for the age-determination of the Earth and Moon (#A2, published in EPSL 2010).

2)     Establishing a theory for molybdenum isotope composition in Proterozoic oceans and experimental evidence for widespread anoxic and sulfidic waters masses 750 milllion years ago (#A6, published in EPSL 2011)

3)     Discovery and quantification of the animal-controlled coupling of the oxygen and phosphorous cycles by the evolution of bioturbation (#A14, published in Nature Geo. 2014).

4)     Discovery of the impact of early land plants on Earth's oxygen levels (#A15, published in PNAS 2016).

5)     Establishing a framework for testing animal-driven reorganization of Earth's biogeochemical cycles 520 million years ago (#A19, published in Geochem Persp. Letters).

6)     Establishing a framework for testing the dynamic relationship between atmospheric oxygenation, oceanic oxygenation and biological production at the global scale operating over geological time scales  (#A23 published in PNAS 2019)


Modern environments

7)     An experimental investigation of the geochemical behavior of molybdenum and its isotopes in modern anoxic and sulfidic waters (#A1, published in GCA 2010)

8)     Discovery of Mo(IV)-sulfides in nature using an improved method for measuring the oxidation state and bonding environment of Mo in sediments (#A8, published in GCA 2012).

9)     Discovery of Mo cycling in a fully sulfidic sedimentary system that decouple Mo speciation and Mo isotope composition in the rock record (#A2#A18 published in EPSL 2010 and Chem. Geology 2017).


Observations in the rock record

10)  Experimental evidence that Earth’s ocean and atmosphere first became fully oxygenated (breathable) 150 million years into animal history, when vascular plants invaded land. Thus, the first large animals evolved, in contrast to previous belief, when Earth was still inhospitable for humans (#A3, published in PNAS 2010)

11)  Experimental evidence and dynamic modeling of C, S and U isotopes in seawater during an oceanic anoxic event reveals how anoxia affects the global marine biogeochemical cycles (#A13, published in EPSL 2014).

12)  Discovery of two major oceanic anoxic events 530 and 525 million years ago during the Cambrian explosion of animal life (#A23, published in PNAS 2019).


Laboratory experiments and technological developments

13)  Documentated direct interaction between molybdenum and particulate organic matter in sulfidic waters (#A16, published in Geobiology 2016).

14)  Developing a method for accurate determination of the oxidation state of molybdenum in natural sulfidic samples using synchrotron radiation (#A8, GCA).

15)  Developing a method for rapid molybdenum concentration usingin geological materials using handheld XRF (#A11, Chem. Geology).

16)  Developing a method for molybdenum analyses at 0.2 mm scale using core-scanning XRF (#A22, published in Scientific Reports, 2019)


Film, TV and Radio

  • Radio DR P1 Morgen: 'Penisorme er medskyldige i alt dyreliv', 7.8.2014
  • TV Documentary: BBC, DR1, DR2 'Expedition to the End of the World' 2013
  • TV DR1 Deadline: 'Canadian discovery of oldest rock on Earth', 29.9.2008
  • TV DR2 Documentary: 'Minik's fornemmelse for Sten' 24.9.2007

Public appearances

More than 10 popular, non-academic science talks, including public talks at Danish Research Award 2011, evening talk at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, Ministry of Education, Politiken Plus, plus several appearances at high schools and primary schools. I was employed by Fox Media to give scientific talks for the public (2005-2009).

Press releases

My research results have hatched three (4) international press releases

  1. "Poisonous oceans delayed animal evolution" 2011
  2. "Oxygenation by land plants kickstarted evolutionary drama" 2010
  3. "Earth and Moon formed later than previously thought" 2010
  4. "Burrowing animals – key to stabilizing Earth's oxygen" 2014

I have contributed more than 10 commentaries to www.videnskab.dk since 2010.


PhD geochemistry, Cand. Sc. Geophysics

ID: 40103128