The 2013 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to William Shotyk for his clear understanding of the impacts of human activities on the geochemical cycles of trace elements in organic soils and sediments.
William Shotyk is the Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment at the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, Canada. Throughout the 25 years of his scientific activity, Shotyk published a terrific number of well-cited, excellent papers, including over 150 peer-reviewed articles with over 4,000 citations, government publications, and invited book chapters. He focused most of his scientific career on analysing, understanding, and modelling the impacts of human activities on the geochemical cycles of trace metals at the interface between lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere, as well as on reconstructing natural and anthropogenic sources of trace metals to the atmosphere (and their variations with climate change during the Holocene) using peat soils. He also carried out several studies on soils as a source and/or sink of trace metals to and from the atmosphere. His contributions also include works as guest editor for special issues on the topic of peat bogs and natural archives. Moreover, he has contributed considerably to the formation of new research and promoted the exchange of knowledge through organising meetings and promoting the participation of many research teams in joint projects.
His tireless efforts in environmental projects have recently allowed him to establish, in an area north of Toronto, Canada, the Elmvale Foundation and Groundwater Observatory, and the Elmvale Water Festival, demonstrating that the local groundwater had a level of lead lower by a factor of five than the cleanest ice layers from the Arctic. This led to dismissing of the area as a landfill site for the foreseeable future.
Shotyk is a remarkably energetic, intellectually alert, and enthusiastic scientist, and his charismatic role in meetings and conferences has been an important driver for the work of other scientists and for soil science. He is the purest example of what a scientist should be, curious by nature, and always devoted to tackling individual pieces of science with the aim of solving the wider and intricate puzzles of soil system sciences. For his remarkable contributions to the field, he is a worthy recipient of the Philippe Duchaufour Medal.