Andrew H. Knoll
Andrew H. Knoll (born 1951) is the Fisher Professor of Natural History and a Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University. Born in West Reading, Pennsylvania in 1951, Knoll graduated from Lehigh University with a bachelor of arts in 1973 and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1977 for a dissertation entitled "Studies in Archean and Early Proterozoic Paleontology." Knoll taught at Oberlin College for five years before returning to Harvard as a professor in 1982. At Harvard, he serves in the departments of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Earth and Planetary Sciences.
Knoll is best known for his contributions to Precambrian paleontology and biogeochemistry. He has discovered microfossil records of early life in Spitsbergen, East Greenland, Siberia, China, Namibia, western North America, and Australia, and was among the first to apply principles of taphonomy and paleoecology to their interpretation. He has also elucidated early records of skeletonized animals in Namibia and remarkable fossils of the Ediacaran Doushantuo Formation, China, preserved in exceptional cellular detail by early diagenetic phosphate precipitation. Knoll and colleagues authored the first paper to demonstrate strong stratigraphic variation in the carbon isotopic composition of carbonates and organic matter preserved in Neoproterozoic (1000-542 million years ago) sedimentary rocks, and Knoll’s group also demonstrated that mid-Proterozoic carbonates display little isotopic variation through time, in contrast to both older and younger successions.
Knoll has longstanding interests in biomineralization, paleobotany, plankton evolution, and mass extinction. Among other things, Knoll and his colleagues were the first to hypothesize that rapid build-up of carbon dioxide played a key role in end-Permian mass extinction, 252 million years ago. More generally, Knoll uses physiology as a conceptual bridge to integrate geochemical records of environmental change with paleontological records of biological history. He has also served as a member of the science team for NASA's MER rover mission to Mars.
Honors include membership in the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Microbiology, as well as the Paleontological Society Medal, the Wollaston Medal of the Geological Society (London), the Moore Medal of the Society for Sedimentary Geology, and both the Walcott and Thompson medals of the US National Academy of Sciences. He received the Phi Beta Kappa Book Award for "Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth".
- 2013 - "Biology: How Life Works". Morris, J., D. Hartl, A.H. Knoll, R. Lue, and others. W.H. Freeman, San Francisco, 1267 pp., ISBN 978-1429218702
- 2012 - "Fundamentals of Geobiology". Knoll, A.H., D.E. Canfield and K. Konhauser, Eds. Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester UK, 443 pp., ISBN 978-140-5187527
- 2007 - The Evolution of Primary Producers in the Sea. Falkowski, P. and A.H. Knoll, Eds. Elsevier, Burlington MA, 441 pp., ISBN 978-0123705181
- 2004 - Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Evolution on Earth. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 277pp., ISBN 0-691-12029-3
- Bosak, T., A.H. Knoll, and A.P. Petroff (2013) The meaning of stromatolites. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 41: 21-44.
- Knoll, A.H. (2013) Systems paleobiology. Geological Society of America Bulletin 125: 3-13.
- Cohen, P.A. and A.H. Knoll (2012) Neoproterozoic scale microfossils from the Fifteen Mile Group, Yukon Territory. Journal of Paleontology 86: 775-800.
- Parfrey, L., D. Lahr, A.H. Knoll, and L.A. Katz (2011) Estimating the timing of early eukaryotic diversification with multigene molecular clocks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 108: 13624–13629.
- Knoll, A.H. and W.W. Fischer (2011) Skeletons and ocean chemistry: the long view. In: J.P. Gattuso and L. Hansson, eds., Ocean Acidification. Oxford University Press, pp. 67–82.
- Knoll, A.H. (2011) The multiple origins of complex multicellularity. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 39: 217–239.
- Pruss, S., S. Finnegan, W.W. Fischer, and A.H. Knoll (2010) Carbonates in skeleton-poor seas: New insights from Cambrian and Ordovician strata of Laurentia. Palaios 25: 73-84.
- Tosca, N.J. and A.H. Knoll (2009) Juvenile chemical sediments and the long term persistence of water at the surface of Mars. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 286: 379-386.
- Tosca, N.J., Knoll, A.H., McLennan, S.M. (2008) Water activity and the challenge for life on early Mars. Science 320: 1204-1207.
- Wilson, J.P, Knoll, A.H., Holbrook, N.M, and Marshall, C.R. (2008) Modeling fluid flow in Medullosa, an anatomically unusual Paleozoic seed plant. Paleobiology 34: 472-493.
- Knoll, A.H., Bambach, R.K, Payne, J., Pruss, S., and Fischer, W. (2007) A paleophysiological perspective on the end-Permian mass extinction and its aftermath. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 256: 295-313.
- Tomitani, A., Knoll, A.H., Cavanaugh, C.M., and Ohno, T. (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., Javaux, E.J., Hewitt, D., and Cohen, P. (2006) Eukaryotic organisms in Proterozoic oceans. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London 361B: 1023-1028.
- Squyres, S., and Knoll, A.H. (2005) Outcrop geology at Meridiani Planum: Introduction. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 240: 1-10.
- Knoll, A.H., Walter, M.R., Narbonne, G.M., and Christie-Blick, N. (2004) A New Period for the Geologic Time Scale. Science 305: 621.
- Anbar, A.D. and Knoll, A.H. (2002) Proterozoic ocean chemistry and evolution: a bioinorganic bridge? Science 297: 1137-1142.
- Knoll, A.H. and S.B. Carroll (1999) The early evolution of animals: Emerging views from comparative biology and geology. Science 284: 2129-2137.
- 2014 - awarded honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago
- 2012 – awarded Thomspon Medal for meritorious research in paleontology and geology
- 2007 - awarded Wollaston Medal , the highest award granted by the Geological Society of London; previous recipients include Charles Darwin and Louis Agassiz
- 2005 - awarded Paleontological Society Medal
- 2003 - awarded Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science for Life on a Young Planet
- 1996 - awarded honorary doctorate from Uppsala University, Sweden
- 1987 - awarded Walcott Medal for contributions to the study of Precambrian life, in particular the microbial roots of plant evolution
- 1987 - awarded Charles Schuchert Award, presented to a promising paleontologist under 40
- 1967 - Eagle Scout
- "Charles Doolittle Walcott Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- Knoll lab webpage
- Harvard webpage
- America's Best 2001: Paleontologist
- Time.com: Fossil Finder
- PBS NOVA Origins: How Did Life Begin?