Biographical Sketch

I am a Canadian, born in the beautiful Village of Swansea, now part of Toronto, in Ontario. Swansea is bordered by the historic HumberRiver to the West, Grenadier Pond and High Park to the East, and Lake Ontario to the south. I attended Swansea Public School and Humberside Collegiate Institute.

I completed my B.Sc. (Agr.) at the University of Guelph (Soil Science and Chemistry) in 1981, and my Ph.D. (supervised by the late William S. Fyfe) at the University of Western Ontario (Geochemistry) in 1986.

After postdoctoral research at the University of California, Riverside (1987) with Garrison Sposito and at the University of Western Ontario (1988-1989) with Wayne Nesbitt, 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 Enviromental Geochemistry. In May of 2008, the Institute merged with the Institute of Geology and Paleontology and the Institute of Mineralogy, to form the new Institute of Earth Sciences.

In October of 2011, I became the inaugural Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment in the Department of Renewable Resources, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciencies University of Alberta.

In August of 2003 while on holidays in Canada, I became infected with "necrotising fasciitis" ( However, thanks to the excellent care I received at the hospitals in Huntsville and later in London, Ontario, I not only survived, but I have made a complete recovery. Thanks to Drs. Andy MacMillan and Ken Foster in Huntsville, for saving my life, Dr. Ken Ross in London for enabling me to have full use of my legs, and to the excellent nursing staff at both hospitals. Special thanks to family and friends for their love, support, patience, and understanding.

The greatest honour of my career was the Philippe Duchaufour Medal for Soil System Science, from the European Geophysical Union, in 2013.

I am indebted to Professor Teodoro Miano of the University of Bari, Italy, for the nomination.

Current Research

My main research areas are human impacts on the geochemical cycles of potentially toxic trace elements, including archives of atmospheric change (peat bogs and polar ice cores), fate in soils and sediments, and impacts on natural freshwaters. Read more ...


The SWAMP lab is concerned with environmental quality in its broadest sense: the quality of our soil resources, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat. The research lab is a unique state-of-the-art, metal-free, clean-lab and analytical facility. Read more ...


I am the President of the Elmvale Foundation, a Canadian, federally registered charity for environmental science education which I created in 2007. The main public education initiative of this Foundation is the Elmvale Water Festival which uses the water emanating from artesian springs in the Elmvale area as a tool for environmental education.

Contact Me

Prof. William Shotyk
348 B South Academic Building

Tel.: 780-492-7155
Fax: 780-492-4323

Office Hours:
By appointment

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