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Soil Health Institute selects seven scientists

The project will assess 31 indicators of soil health, partnering with teams across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Soil Health Institute has selected six project scientists and a statistician/database manager to oversee evaluation of soil health indicators at more than 120 long-term agricultural experiment sites across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Soil Health Institute is a nonprofit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing soil health.

The team of scientists will help conduct and manage SHI’s initiative to identify and develop widely acceptable soil health measurements and standards, as well as launch a comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic, and environmental outcomes.

“These scientists will work as a geographically-dispersed team to collect soil samples and evaluate the utility of soil health indicators. They will compare soil properties that have been changed by management, climate, production system, and other parameters across North America,” said Paul Tracy, Project Manager, Soil Science/Agronomy.

The scientists will be in charge of regional engagement and project coordination with long-term agricultural site leaders. They will evaluate soil health measurements and their relation to productivity, economic and environmental outcomes; developing critical analysis and review of measurements, soil health evaluation indices and programs at the regional (individual) and North American (team) level, partnering with site leaders and selected scientific laboratories.

  • G. Mac Bean, Ph.D., will serve as SHI’s project scientist for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also will lead the team for soil pedology and genesis.  Most recently, Bean focused on improving nitrogen fertilizer management as a graduate student at the University of Missouri.
  • Shannon Cappellazzi, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the western United States.  She also will coordinate the soil health team’s pastures and rangeland research. Cappellazzi most recently served as Manager at the Oregon State University Central Analytical Laboratory.
  • Kelsey Hoegenauer, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the southern United States. Most recently, Hoegenauer was a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas conducting research on recycling nutrients using cover crops in row crop systems. She also has served as a graduate research assistant at Auburn University conducting research on the long- and short-term effects of cover cropping on physical and chemical soil properties in a peanut-cotton rotation. As a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture (The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation), she conducted research on blackberry management in rangelands.
  • Daniel Liptzin, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the High Plains Region, providing team leadership on soil enzymes and carbon cycling. Liptzin recently served as a Senior Instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, where he taught courses in biogeochemistry, environmental science, and climate. His research interests include exploring human effects on the nitrogen cycle, interactions among elemental cycles, redox-sensitive biogeochemistry, and ecosystem processes in seasonally snow-covered ecosystems.
  • Charlotte Norris, Ph.D., P.Ag., will serve as project scientist for Canada. Norris has collaborated on research determining best management practices for intensive vegetable production, assessing the effects of agricultural crops on soil health, and evaluating the effects of forest harvesting practices on soil health. This has included investigating indicators of soil health in reclaimed forest ecosystems. She is a registered Professional Agrologist.
  • Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the northern Midwest and northeastern United States. She will also lead SHI’s assessment of microbial population dynamics using genomic tools as soil health indicators. Most recently, Rieke served as a postdoctoral research associate, Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.
  • Michael Cope, Ph.D., will serve as the team’s statistician and database manager. Most recently, Cope served as a statistical and research analyst at Clemson University. His expertise includes analysis of large and assorted data. He is skilled in Python Programming, Soil Science, Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Modeling, and Cloud Computing.

The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements is supported through the generosity of grants from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills.

To learn more about the project, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/north-american-project-to-evaluate-soil-health-measurements/. For further information about the Soil Health Institute, visit https://www.soilhealthinstitute.org.

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