Responsibilities and Interests 

I am the stable isotope laboratory manager and a senior scientist in the Physiological Plant Ecology group at the University of Basel. I oversee lab operations and maintain our equipment, which includes four isotope ratio mass spectrometers with five peripherals (TCEA, EA, GC). We conduct routine analyses of:

-        δ2H and δ18O values of water
-        δ18O, δ2H, d13C, and d15N values of bulk solids and cellulose
-        δ2H and d13C values of specific compounds/lipids

We also operate sample preparation facilities for purification and quantification of lipids from plants, soils, and sediments, for purification of cellulose, and for cryogenic extraction of water from plants and soils. Our lab is focused on high quality, high throughput analyses with applications to plant ecology and climate, and I work with and train lab users to achieve their objectives. I also maintain research interests in technological and methodological developments to improve laboratory applications, as well as interactions between plants and hydroclimate.

Education and Professional Experience

2018-ongoing: Stable Isotope Lab Manager and Senior Scientist, University of Basel, Switzerland.
2017-2018: Research Associate, EAWAG – Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, Kastanienbaum, Switzerland.
2014-2017: Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Basel, Switzerland.
2007-2013: PhD student – Chemical Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
2006-2007: Research Associate and Stable Isotope Laboratory Technician, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
2002-2004: Master student – Geology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
1997-2001: Bachelor student – Geology, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, USA.

Selected and Recent Publications

Ladd, S.N., Maloney, A.E., Nelson, D.B., Prebble, M., Camperio, G., Sear, D.A., Hassall, J.D., Langdon, P.G., Sachs, J.P., Dubois, N. (2020). “Leaf Wax Hydrogen Isotopes as a Hydroclimate Proxy in the Tropical Pacific” Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, e2020JG005891.

Schuldt, B., Buras, A., Arend, M., Vitasse, Y., Beierkuhnlein, C., Damm, A., Gharun, M., Grams, T.E.E., Hauck, M., Hajek, P., Hartmann, H., Hilbrunner, E., Hoch, G., Holloway-Phillips, M., Körner, C., Larysch, E., Lübbe, T., Nelson, D.B., Rammig, A., Rigling, A., Rose, L., Ruehr, N.K., Schumann, K., Weiser, F., Werner, C., Wohlgemuth, T., Zang, C.S., Kahmen, A. (2020). “A first assessment of the impact of the extreme 2018 summer drought on Central European forests” Basic and Applied Ecology, 45,86-103.

Steinman, B.A., Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Stansell, N.D., Finkenbinder, M.S., Finney, B.P. (2019). “Lake sediment records of Holocene hydroclimate and impacts of the Mount Mazama eruption, north-central Washington, USA.” Quaternary Science Reviews, 204, 17-36.

Maloney, A.E., Nelson, D.B., Richey, J.N., Prebble M., Sear, D.A., Hassall, J.D., Langdon, P.G., Croudace, I.W., Zawadzki, A., Sachs, J.P. (2019). “Reconstructing precipitation in the tropical South Pacific from dinosterol 2H/1H ratios in lake sediment.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 245, 190-206.

Ladd, S.N., Nelson, D.B., Schubert, C.J., Dubois, N. (2018). “Lipid compound classes display diverging hydrogen isotope responses in lakes along a nutrient gradient.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 237, 103-119.

Nelson, D.B., Ladd, S.N., Schubert, C.J., Kahmen, A. (2018). “Rapid atmospheric transport and large-scale deposition of recently synthesized plant waxes.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 222, 599-617.

Newberry, S.L., Nelson, D.B., Kahmen, A. (2017). “Cryogenic vacuum artifacts do not affect plant water‐uptakestudies using stable isotope analysis.” Ecohydrology, 2017; e1892.

Nelson, D.B., Knohl, A., Sachse, D., Schefuß, E., Kahmen, A. (2017). “Sources and Abundances of Leaf Wax Aerosols in Central Europe.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 198, 299-314.

Nelson, D.B., Sachs, J.P. (2016). “Galápagos Hydroclimate of the Common Era from Paired Microalgal and Mangrove Biomarker 2H/1H Values.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (13): 3476-3481.

Nelson, D.B., Sachs, J.P. (2014). “The influence of salinity on D/H fractionation in dinosterol and brassicasterol from globally distributed saline and hypersaline lakes.” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 133, 325-339.

Nelson, D.B., Sachs, J.P. (2014). “The influence of salinity on D/H fractionation in alkenones from saline and hypersaline lakes in continental North America.” Organic Geochemistry, 66, 38-47.

Nelson, D.B., Abbott, M.B., Steinman, B., Polissar, P.J., Stansell, N.D., Ortiz, J.D., Rosenmeier, M.F., Finney, B.P., Riedel, J. (2011).  “Drought variability in the Pacific Northwest from a 6,000-yr lake sediment record.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 (10): 3870-3875.


Dr. Daniel B. Nelson

University of Basel
Schönbeinstrasse 6
4056 Basel

Office No.: 01.011/U1.005
Phone: +41 (0)61 207 35 17