William Shotyk

Professor and Bocock Chair in Agriculture and the Environment (Geochemistry, Agriculture and the environment)

Agricultural Life and Environmental Sciences

Renewable Resources

About Me

Biographical Sketch: I completed my B.Sc. (Agr.) at the University of Guelph (Soil Science and Chemistry) in 1981, and my Ph.D. at the University of Western Ontario (Geochemistry) in 1986. After postdoctoral research at the University of California, Riverside (1987) and at the University of Western Ontario (1988-1989), I joined the Geological Institute at the University of Berne, Switzerland, as Oberassistent. I completed my Habilitation (Geochemistry) at the University of Berne in 1995. In October of 2000, I joined the University of Heidelberg as Professor, becoming Director of the Institute of Environmental Geochemistry. 

Since October 2011, I hold the position of Bocock Chair in Agriculture and Environment at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, in the Department of Renewable Resources. I am also a participant in the Land Reclamation International Graduate School (LRIGS) program sponsored by NSERC CREATE.


  • Philippe Duchaufour Medal of the European Geosciences Union (2012)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2018)
  • Geochemistry Fellow - Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry (2019)


Major Responsibilities / Research Interests: 


Geochemistry of the Soil Environment: Cycling of trace metals (Pb, Sb, As, Cd, Ag, Tl and Hg) at the interface between lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere; fractionation of elements during chemical weathering; soils as a source of trace metals to the atmosphere; soils as sources and sinks for trace metals to and from natural waters

Archives of Environmental Change: Reconstructing natural and anthropogenic sources of trace metals to the atmosphere using sphagnum moss, peat bogs and polar ice; variations with climate change during the Holocene

Isotope Geochemistry: Application of radiogenic isotopes (Pb, Sr) for studying chemical weathering, evolution of natural waters, and tracing natural and anthropogenic aerosols; fallout radionuclides (137Cs, 210Pb, 241Am) for dating of peat cores from bogs

Analytical Geochemistry: Environmental applications of ICP sector-field mass spectrometry (ICP-SMS) 

Sedimentary Geochemistry: pH and redox chemistry of soil solutions and sediment pore waters; understanding natural enrichments of trace elements (As, Cu, Hg, Mo, Ni, Se, U, V) in wetlands 


Agriculture and the Environment: Application of the fundamental research topics listed above to understand the impacts of agricultural systems on the environment, and the effects of environmental change on agriculture, at local, regional, and global scales