Knut Schmidt-Nielsen

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Knut Schmidt-Nielsen
Left to right Bodil Mimi Krogh Schmidt-Nielsen (b. 1918), Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (1915-2007), and Barbara Wagner.jpg
Bodil Mimi Krogh Schmidt-Nielsen, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, and Barbara Wagner.
Born (1915-09-24)September 24, 1915
Died January 25, 2007(2007-01-25) (aged 91)
Institutions Duke University
Notable awards International Prize for Biology (1992)
Spouse Bodil Schmidt-Nielsen

Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (September 24, 1915 – January 25, 2007)[1] was a prominent figure in the field of comparative physiology and Professor of Physiology Emeritus at Duke University.


Born in Trondheim, Norway. He was educated in Oslo and Copenhagen. He became a student in the laboratory of August Krogh in Copenhagen in 1937. Schmidt-Nielsen moved to the United States, where he studied at Swarthmore College, Stanford University, and the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.[2]


Schmidt-Nielsen published over 275 scientific papers, received the International Prize for Biology and wrote the authoritative text on animal physiology. Schmidt-Nielsen is widely recognized as having made significant contributions to ecophysiology. He has been referred to as "the father of comparative physiology and integrative biology"[3] and "one of the all-time greats of animal physiology".[4] He came to Duke University in 1952 and became a James B. Duke Professor in the Department of Biology.

In 1980, Knut Schmidt-Nielsen was elected President of the International Union of Physiological Sciences. He was the founding editor of News in Physiological Sciences. He was a member of the Royal Society of London, the French Academy of Sciences and the United States National Academy of Sciences.[5] Next to the Biological Science building on Duke's campus is a statue of Schmidt-Nielson looking at a camel, honoring his more than twenty years of work studying and dispelling myths on how camels withstand the harsh desert environment.[6] [7]


  • 1972 How Animals Work Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-09692-8
  • 1979 Desert animals: Physiological problems of heat and water Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-23850-0
  • 1984 Scaling: Why Is Animal Size So Important? Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-31987-0
  • 1997 Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-57098-5
  • 1998 The Camel's Nose: Memoirs Of A Curious Scientist Washington, D.C: Island Press. ISBN 978-1-55963-512-7


  1. ^ Vogel, S. (2008). "Knut Schmidt-Nielsen. 24 September 1915 -- 25 January 2007". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 54: 319. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2008.0010.  edit
  2. ^ "Animal Physiology Expert Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Dies". Duke University Office of News & Communications. 2007-01-25. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  3. ^ "MOVERS". Science 315 (5813): 745c–. 2007. doi:10.1126/science.315.5813.745c. 
  4. ^ McNeill Alexander, R. (2007). "Obituary: Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (1915–2007)". Nature 446 (7137): 744. doi:10.1038/446744a. PMID 17429390.  edit
  5. ^ Weibel, E. R. (2007). "Obituary in memoriam Knut Schmidt-Nielsen 24 September 1915 - 25 January 2007". Journal of Experimental Biology 210 (8): 1299. doi:10.1242/jeb.005306.  edit
  6. ^ "In Memoriam: Knut Schmidt-Nielsen (September 24, 1915 – January 25, 2007)". ScienceBlogs (SEED Media Group). 2007-04-11. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  7. ^ Tierney Thys. "Curiosity And The Camel". Duke University Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2010-03-03.