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Department of Geography

Michael W.I. Schmidt
Michael W.I. Schmidt, Prof. Dr.

Soil Science and Biogeochemistry

Tel.: 044 63 55140
Room number: Y25 K 64
Presence times: book contact hours (link below)



June 2023

Microbes play leading role in soil carbon capture, study shows (Mongabay)

Microorganisms are key to storing carbon in soils

(UZH) (Cornell University) (Max-Planck-Inst. BGC) (Tsinghua Univ.)

based on:

Tao, Huang, Hungate, Manzoni, Frey, Schmidt et al. Microbial carbon use efficiency promotes global soil carbon storage. Nature 2023


May 2023

Interview (in German TV minutes 8:00-13:00)
Dep. Geography news

Climate Change Releases Carbon Stocks Deep Underground (UZH)

Preserving Forests to Protect Deep Soil From Warming (Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

Soil carbon buried deep beneath the forest is disrupted by climate change (Earth)  (

based on:

Zosso, Ofiti, Torn, Wiesenberg, Schmidt. Rapid loss of complex polymers and pyrogenic carbon in subsoils under whole-soil warming Nature Geoscience 2023 Vol. 16 (4), 344-348.


April 2022

Initiative for Environmental Responsibility Scientific Committee.
See also newspaper report in NZZ and at Department sustaninibility inititiative


January 2021

Signatory of the Climate Action Plan Switzerland 
link to download

Soil as player in climate mitigation (blog / podcast) 


May 2021

Interview about soil health in agriculture (May 2021, Watson)


early 2019

Signatory of the "Statement by scientists on the protests for more climate protection, Scientist for Future

Professional Activities

Mercator fellow of the German Research Foundation DFG (at the AquaDiva / Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena) (2021)

Teacher of the Hour 2020 (student election) 

Advisory Board of the National Hub of European Joint Program Soil (2020-  )

Program Director for five Bachelor and Master programs at the of the Department of Geography UZH (2018-2020)

Member of the Swiss National Research Council, Division II Mathematics, Natural and Engineering Sciences (2011-2014)

Chair Switzerland in the European Science Foundation MOLTER program (2008-2013)


Deep C: Deep soil carbon cycling in a warming world – the molecular perspective. (Swiss National Science Foundation 2017-2023)

link to project page

CV / Education


Univ. Bochum, Germany: MSc Geography (1985-1991), MSc Geology (1988-1993), PhD Geosciences, Dr. rer. nat. (1994-1997).

Univ. Cologne, Germany: Tenure track eligibility, venia legendi for Geography, Habilitation (2001)



1992–1993 Environmental Consultant
1994–1996 Research Assistant  (Univ. Bochum, Soil Science, Germany)
1996–1998 Research Assistant (Technical Univ. Munich, Soil Science, Germany)
1998–2000 Postdoc (Max-Planck-Institute for Biogeochemistry Jena, Germany)
2000–2002 Research Assistant (Univ. Cologne, Geography, Germany)
2002– Professor for Physical Geography at the University of Zurich: Assistant Prof. (2002), Associate Prof. (2006), Full Professor (2014)