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Breathing Easy at Night

Donald Canfield, a professor of ecology at the University of Southern Denmark, will speak about Earth’s history of oxygen during the Dec. 14, 2014, Frontiers of Science lecture at the University of Utah.

Frontiers of Science Lecture Series

Nov. 25, 2014 – Donald Canfield, professor of ecology at the University of Southern Denmark, will speak about the history of oxygen on Earth and its connections to biological evolution during the University of Utah’s latest Frontiers of Science Lecture on Thursday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

The lecture “Breathing Easy at Night: The History of Atmospheric Oxygen” will be held on campus in room 220 of the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Biology Building. Lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is limited and it is recommended attendees arrive early to ensure seating availability.

In his presentation, Canfield will explore the history of atmospheric oxygen on Earth and what processes act to control oxygen levels.

“Humans breathe about 20,000 times a day, and 21 percent of that air is oxygen,” Canfield says. “With half of this amount, we couldn’t survive, neither could cats and dogs, nor could most of the animals providing the meat for our dinner plates.”

Oxygen is produced through the interaction of biological and geological processes. Canfield will discuss where atmospheric oxygen comes from, why the atmosphere contains as much oxygen as it does and how the current amount of oxygen on Earth compares with the amount of oxygen in the past. The history of oxygen, he says, is “intimately connected” to the history of biological evolution.

Canfield is a professor of ecology at the University of Southern Denmark and director of the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution. He studies microbes and their ecosystems to understand the Earth’s surface and chemistry through time. Canfield is also a member of the National Academy of Science of the U.S. and a foreign member of the Royal Societies of Denmark and Sweden.

The Frontiers of Science Lecture Series is sponsored by the University of Utah’s College of Science and College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

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