Andrew H. Knoll

Fisher Professor of Natural History and
Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Curator of the Paleobotanical Collections in the Harvard University Herbaria

Phone: 617-495-9306
Office: 50 Botanical Museum, 24 Oxford Street

Members of the Knoll lab are broadly interested in the evolution of life, the evolution of Earth surface environments, and the relationships between the two. We are particularly interested in Archean and Proterozoic paleontology and biogeochemistry; however, both past and current projects include investigations of selected problems in Phanerozoic Earth history. Motivating evolutionary issues include the diversification of prokaryotic metabolisms on the Precambrian Earth, the initial radiation of eukaryotic life, and the rise of large complex algae and animals near the end of the Proterozoic Eon. Current projects include coupled paleontological/biogeochemical work on late Archean basins from southern Africa and Australia, mid-Proterozoic basins in Australia, and Neoproterozoic-Cambrian successions in northern Russia, China, and Australia. In a genuine extension of this research, we are also involved actively in Mars exploration, both as part of the 2004 MER missions and in planning for future landings. Our lab is also engaged in studies in efforts to apply physiological insights to problems of Paleozoic biological and environmental evolution, including early seed plant evolution and Permo-Triassic extinction and subsequent ecosystem recovery.

Recent Publications

Boyce, C.K. and A.H. Knoll (2002) Evolution of developmental potential and the multiple independent origins of leaves in Paleozoic vascular plants. Paleobiology 28: 70-100.

Anbar, A.D. and A.H. Knoll (2002) Proterozoic ocean chemistry and evolution: a bioinorganic bridge? Science 297: 1137-1142.

Knoll, A.H. (2003) The geological consequences of evolution. Geobiology 1: 3-14.

Shen, Y., A.H. Knoll, and M.R. Walter (2003) Evidence for low sulphate and deep water anoxia in a mid-Proterozoic marine basin. Nature 423: 632-635.

Knoll, A.H. (2003) Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Squyres, S. and others (2004) In-situ evidence for an ancient aqueous environment on Mars. Science 306: 1709-1714.

Tomitani, A., A.H. Knoll, C.M. Cavanaugh, and T. Ohno (2006) The evolutionary diversification of cyanobacteria: molecular phylogenetic and paleontological perspectives. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 103: 5442-5447.

Knoll, A.H., E.J. Javaux, D. Hewitt, and P. Cohen (2006) Eukaryotic organisms in Proterozoic oceans. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London 361B: 1023-1038

Knoll, A.H., R.K. Bambach, J. Payne, S. Pruss, and W. Fischer (2007) A paleophysiological perspective on the end-Permian mass extinction and its aftermath. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 256: 295-313.

Knoll, A.H., R.E. Summons, J. Waldbauer, and J. Zumberge (2007) The geological succession of primary producers in the oceans. In: P. Falkowski and A.H. Knoll, eds., The Evolution of Primary Producers in the Sea. Burlington, Elsevier, pp. 133-163.

Courses Taught

Science A54: Life as a Planetary Phenomenon
OEB 107: The Evolution of Land Plants in Geologic Time
OEB 208: Issues in Paleontology
EPS 181: Paleontology and Historical Geobiology


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