Soil Science 728 Graduate Seminar


”The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Nitrification Inhibitors” By Anna Teeter (Research Assistant with Carrie Laboski, UW Soil Science) – Wednesday, October 3, 2018 @ 3:30 pm, Room 357 Soils Bldg.




Refreshments after the seminar @ 4:30 pm in the Jackson-Tanner Commons – Everyone welcome


Data Science Initiative

Soil Science Assistant Professor Thea Whitman’s proposal has been selected as one of the 10 highly innovative projects chosen to receive UW-Madison Data Science Initiative funding. Thea’s project is entitled “Addressing Misclassification in the Microbiome: A Data-scientific Approach to Propagating Uncertainty in Microbial Community Composition.” Fifty-four proposals from across the UW-Madison campus were submitted. The proposals were reviewed by 49 UW-Madison faculty. A seven-faculty committee next evaluated the merits of each proposal based on the faculty reviews and the project’s potential for making significant contributions. Congratulations, Thea!


The Department of Soil Science welcomes its newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Jingyi Huang.  Dr. Huang, originally from China, completed his master and PhD degrees on applying electromagnetic induction theories in soil and water mapping, monitoring, and management at the University of New South Wales, Australia.  Afterward, he continued his research career as a post-doctoral researcher in the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales, during which he studied the spatial-temporal variations of soil properties at different scales using various proximal and remote sensing technologies and machine learning and data assimilation algorithms. He is looking forward to sharing his ideas and expertise in soil sensing and modeling and collaborating with people in the department and across the university to push the boundary of our understanding of the soil in the water-energy-food nexus. Dr. Huang has an immediate opening for a PhD student in the Soil Sensing and Monitoring Lab. The applicant will have an opportunity to conduct research activities in a multi-discipline environment and will explore the use of various sensing technologies in soil and water resources monitoring and management.  Please contact Dr. Huang if you are interested in the PhD position (; Mobile: +1 (608) 770 6771); Skype jingyi.huang0402 |

Google Scholar  Application for the position must be made through the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School at; the application includes a statement of interest, GRE and/or TOEFL scores, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts from universities the applicant has attended.


“Mineral licks as environmental reservoirs of chronic wasting disease prions,” which was funded by the U.S. Geological Survey with support from the National Science Foundation, was published May 2 in the journal PLOS ONE. Michael Samuel, an emeritus professor of wildlife ecology, and Joel Pedersen, professor of soil science, led the work, with colleagues in forest and wildlife ecology and the Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health.  The research was covered in the following venues: WKOW 27 ABC 5 May 2018, Wisconsin State Journal 4 May 2018, interview with Chuck Quirmbach from Wisconsin Public Radio 3 May 2018, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 2 May 2018. The university also ran a piece on this research; this can be found at the following web site:  To see the full article as it appears in PLOS ONE, check out .


The Department of Soil Science celebrates a new professorship established through a generous gift from emeritus professor Marv Beatty. The professorship will provide a tenured faculty member with resources to pursue research, attend professional meetings, travel, support undergraduate research and hire graduate student assistants. According to Marv, “there were a lot of opportunities to innovate while at UW-Madison. This institution offered me endless opportunities to be creative, to do what I could do, and I’m very glad to be able to come back and give back a little bit.”  Marv received many accolades and awards over his career, including the Distinguished Service Award from UW-Extension; the Outstanding Service Award from the Wisconsin Association of Conservation Districts; and the Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Chapter of the Soil Conservation Society of America; as well as being named Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  At the gift reception held on April 6, 2018 (see photo above), Dean VandenBosch thanked Marv for his “many contributions to soil science, to UW-Extension and to CALS, and for this wonderful gift that will help support the Department of Soil Science now and into the future.”  To establish the professorship, Marv gave a gift of $1.2M, which qualified for an additional $500,000 from the university’s “Morgridge Match” program. UW-Madison alumni John and Tashia Morgridge promised $100M to match new gifts toward professorships at UW-Madison. The Marvin T. Beatty Professorship in Soil Science will be awarded for 5-year terms, with the faculty member selected by the Department of Soil Science.


Congratulations to Steve Ventura and his colleagues associated with “The Compost Project – A Systems Approach to Food Waste Composting for Urban Agriculture” on being selected as 2018 Community-University Partnership Award recipients.  The award will be presented by Chancellor Blank at a reception at Olin House on Wednesday, June 27, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. 

The Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science

Dr. Michael Castellano (Associate Professor, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA) will present The Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science entitled “Biogeochemical consequences of an aging soil infrastructure” on Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 4:15 pm in 270 Soils Building.  A reception will follow in the Jackson-Tanner Commons.

Abstract: The greatest land improvement for agriculture is drainage. Recently, scientists have speculated that drainage – rather than tillage – caused the massive loss of soil organic matter from cropping of the Midwest U.S. prairie. Over 30 million acres of U.S. cropland are drained, representing an investment in excess of $20 billion. However, most Midwest U.S. drainage systems are approaching the end of their design life. Moreover, climate change and cropping systems intensification have led to an increase in drainage requirements for economical crop production. Deterioration and improvement of drainage networks have enormous impacts on soil carbon and nitrogen dynamics. As the U.S. upgrades aging drainage infrastructure, soil scientists must work to balance a series of biogeochemical trade-offs that impact soil carbon storage, crop production, and nitrogen use efficiency.

{Made available by the generosity of Leo M. Walsh and the Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Lecture in Soil Science Fund}

Joel Pedersen Honored

Congratulations to Joel Pedersen on being selected as a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor.  The professorship title may be carried for the duration of his career at UW-Madison. The professorship provides flexible funds in the amount of $75,000 that can be used for books, research travel, supplies or similar expenses incurred in pursuit of Joel’s scholarly activity.  This is a great honor and confirms the high esteem in which Joel is held by his CALS colleagues.


Carrie Laboski was elected to the Soil Science Society of America Board of Directors representing the Agricultural Soil & Food Systems Group. This is a 3-year term beginning 9 January 2019 to 31 December 2021.


Stephen Ventura has been awarded the 2018 Spitzer Teaching Award. This award recognizes an individual who has significantly enhanced the quality and impact of undergraduate or graduate instruction in CALS through outstanding teaching practices, pedagogical scholarship or other beyond-the-classroom accomplishments that have shaped students’ learning experiences and/or the teaching practices of other instructors. Robert Spitzer, the sponsor of this award, is a three-time graduate of CALS who went on to become a leader in agribusiness and the president of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Bob created the award to honor the teachers who made a lasting impression on him.

Book Launch Video

“Good Food, Strong Communities,” edited by Steve Ventura and Martin Bailkey, recently held a book launch.  If you missed the event at the University Club on Thursday, January 18, you can still enjoy it through the wonders of video:  The book features numerous local authors, shares ideas and stories about efforts to improve food security in large urban areas of the United States by strengthening community food systems. It draws on 5 years of collaboration between a research team comprised of the University of Wisconsin, Growing Power, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, and more than 30 organizations on the front lines of this work in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Los Angeles, Madison, and Cedar Rapids. Activists and scholars talk about what’s working and what still needs to be done to ensure that everyone has access to readily available, affordable, appropriate, and acceptable food.