Christian von Sperber

Assistant Professor
Christian von Sperber
Contact Information

Burnside Hall Room 613B

(514) 398-7501
Email address: 
chris.vonsperber [at]
Research areas: 
Nutrient cycling in soils
Stable isotopes
Current research: 

My research focuses on the biogeochemistry of phosphorus and nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems, with a special emphasis on soils. I am particularly interested in understanding how biogeochemical processes in soils change along environmental gradients. For this purpose, I often use stable isotopes as a tool to characterize and trace such processes, both, in controlled laboratory settings and in environmental systems.

Current Projects

  • The cycling of phosphorus and nitrogen in forest ecosystems

  • The effect of land-use changes on soil nutrient pools

  • The biogeochemistry of phosphorus along riparian buffer zones

  • Senior Scientist, Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Bonn, Germany (2016 - 2018)
  • Postdoc, Department of Biology, Stanford University, USA (2014 - 2016)
  • PhD, Department of Environmental Science, ETH Zurich, Switzerland (2014)
Selected publications: 
  • Bauke S., Wang Y., Saia S., Popp C., Tamburini F., Paetzold S., Amelung W., von Sperber C. (2022). Phosphate Oxygen Isotope Ratios in Vegetated Riparian Buffer Strips. Vadose Zone Journal.    
  • Warrack J., Kang M. and Sperber C. von (2021) Groundwater phosphorus concentrations: global trends and links with agricultural and oil and gas activities. Environmental Research Letters 17, 014014.
  • Helfenstein, J., Tamburini, F., von Sperber, C., Massey, M.S., Pistocchi, C., Chadwick, O.A., Vitousek, P.M., Kretzschmar, R., Frossard, E., (2018). Combining spectroscopic and isotopic techniques gives a dynamic view of phosphorus cycling in soil. Nature Communications 9, 3226.


  • GEOG 203 - Environmental Systems
  • GEOG 290 - Local Geographical Excursion
  • GEOG 305 - Soils and Environment
  • GEOG 495 - Field course on Mont Saint-Hilaire
  • GEOG 505 - Global Biogeochemistry
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