Soil Science 728 Graduate Seminar Schedule

All seminars are located in Room 357 Soils Bldg., unless indicated otherwise. Seminars begin at 3:30 pm. Light refreshments will be provided in the Jackson-Tanner Commons immediately after the seminar until 5:30 pm.

Date – Seminar Title – Presenter

Wed. Jan. 24: “Overview of syllabus & assessment” by Doug Soldat/Nick Balster (Seminar Coordinators)

Wed. Jan. 31: “Physiological influences & comparative measurements of in situ soil pH in bacterial ecology” by Michael Braus (RA with Thea Whitman)

Wed. Feb. 7: “Evaluating soil for private onsite wastewater treatment systems” by Clay Vanderleest (RA with Francisco Arriaga)

Wed. Feb. 14: “Beyond the 4Rs: A systems approach to nitrogen use efficiency” by Greg Richardson (RA with Matt Ruark)

Wed. Feb. 21: “Nitrogen’s volatile journey through wastewater treatment” Amanda Jensen (RA with Phil Barak)

Wed. Feb. 28: “Plausible pathways to water sustainability: Yahara watershed, Wisconsin” by Chris Kucharik (Professor, UW-Madison Agronomy)

Wed. Mar. 7: “Pedotransfer functions” by Jenifer Yost (RA with Alfred Hartemink)

Wed. Mar.14: “An exploration of the isotopic fractionation of nitrogen Laura Bybee (RA with Phil Barak)

Wed. Mar. 21: “Horizontal silage bunker runoff: Environmental impacts & treatment options” by Joe Sanford (PhD grad student in Biological Systems Engineering)

Wed. Mar. 28: SPRING BREAK – No seminar

Wed. Apr. 4: “Cover crops” by Matt Ruark (Associate Professor, UW-Madison Soil Science)

Wed. Apr. 11: “Applications of DNA-stable isotope probing (SIP) in soil microbial ecology” by Nayela Zeba (RA with Thea Whitman)

Wed. Apr.18:  “Soilistic history of art” by Ekrem Ozlu (RA with Francisco Arriaga)

Wed. Apr. 25: “Data publishing” by Carol Barford (Associate Scientist, Nelson Institute)

Wed. May 2: Leo M. Walsh Distinguished Seminar Presentation by Michael Castellano (Iowa State Univ.)

Wed. May 9: “Seminar wrap-up” by Doug Soldat/Nick Balster (Seminar Coordinators)



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.


The UW Soil & Forage Analysis Lab welcomes its new lab director and extension soils specialist, Andrew Stammer. Andrew is a certified crop advisor and has a strong background in soil and plant analysis. He looks forward to providing faculty and staff with high-quality analyses to help them meet their research objectives. You can reach Andrew at 715-387-2523 or

Well Done, Ekrem!

Congratulations to Ekrem Ozlu (Research Assistant with Francisco Arriaga) on being selected as a recipient of the 2018 ASA, CSSA, SSSA Future Leaders in Science Award (a highly competitive award).  Ekrem was selected from a pool of 50 exceptional graduate students because his application expressed an impressive enthusiasm for both research and advocacy.  Award recipients receive an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, DC to participate in the 2018 Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on March 7-8.  While in DC, Ekrem will receive advocacy training before teaming up with society leadership for a face-to-face meeting with Wisconsin Congressional delegation. 

21st World Congress of Soil Science

The 21st World Congress of Soil Science (21WCSS) will take place in Rio de Janeiro, August 12 – 17, 2018. Dedicated to the theme “Soil Science: Beyond Food and Fuel,” it will review the key role of soil science in answering some of the topical key questions regarding future food and water security, environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Information on technical conference tours has been made available on the conference website.

Important dates:   Abstract submission until January 20, 2018; Abstract acceptance after March 15, 2018; Early registration ends March 31, 2018; Regular registration until May 12, 2018.  Read more at

The Driftless Reader

Curt Meine, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, and Keefe Keeley, a PhD candidate with SteveVentura are co-editors of a recently-released book about the Driftless Area titled The Driftless Reader (University of Wisconsin Press, 2017).  Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, the book brings together more than 80 selected readings as well as numerous photographs, maps and paintings to tell the story of the Driftless region’s layered natural and human history. The book features writing by Mark Twain, Robin Kimmerer, Aldo Leopold, Frank Lloyd Wright, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Black Hawk and many more.

SnapPlus Nutrient Management Software in the News

A software program intended to cut water pollution and soil erosion has matured into an essential production tool for farmers, says Fond du Lac Co. dairy farmer Josh Hiemstra, who began using the program in 2005. The software is called SnapPlus (Soil Nutrient Application Planner) and was created at the UW-Madison Department of Soil Science.  The program helps farmers make the best use of their on-farm nutrients, as well as make informed and justified commercial fertilizer purchases.  By calculating potential soil and phosphorus runoff losses on a field-by-field basis while assisting in the economic planning of manure and fertilizer applications, SnapPlus provides Wisconsin farmers with a tool for protecting soil and water quality.  Check out the full article by UW News writer David Tennenbaum about the program, go to


Congratulations to Yichao Rui (Research Associate with Matt Ruark’s Lab). Yichao recently received the Best Presentation Award (1st place) at the 2nd Annual UW-Madison Postdoctoral Research Symposium that was held on Friday, September 22.  This symposium is a venue for postdocs to share their work with others and foster new collaborations.  New to this year’s symposium was the 5-minute blitz talk competition. Fifty abstracts were received for this competition; 16 of the abstracts were selected to be presented during the symposium.  As the 1st place winner, Yichao received a travel grant to attend a future conference of his choosing.

Francisco Arriaga Honored

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) Board of Directors named Francisco Arriaga (Assistant Professor and Extension Soil Specialist in the UW-Madison Department of Soil Science) as a 2017 recipient of the Society’s Fellow Award.  The 72nd International SWCS Conference took place at the Monona Terrace Sunday, July 30 to Wednesday, August 2.  Francisco was honored at the Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, August 1. The designation of Fellow is conferred on SWCS members who have performed exceptional service in advocating the conservation of soil, water, and related natural resources. This award is given for professional excellence, first and foremost. Professional achievement may be in practicing, investigating, administering, or teaching soil and water conservation or closely related fields. The SWCS Awards Committee evaluates and ranks nominees. Recommendations are then presented to the Board of Directors for final approval. No more than one-tenth of 1% of the Society’s membership will be honored each year.  Congratulations, Francisco — an honor well deserved!!!



Some days ago, we interviewed some undergraduate students for fieldwork positions in the summer. Spring has arrived (well, almost) and we are planning ahead for our projects. We explained the projects to the students and then discussed all the variables, like our new probe sampler, the sampling design, the new instruments that we are using this summer, and of course the weather. It appeared to one of the students that there is lots to be figured out and decisions to be made whilst conducting research – not everything can be planned. The student couldn’t be more right as we are seeking for novelty, trying to explain and understand things a bit better, chasing ideas alongside, whilst keeping our goals and overall progress in close view.

Often, I think our department moves in a similar mode and manner; there are lots of things going on that may appear dispersed but the overall objectives of pushing the frontiers of soil science and doing some of the best teaching and extension is solidly anchored in the commotion of everyday life. We have the good fortune of being supported by a great staff, and an excellent college and university. We have keen undergraduate and graduate students, and a wonderful group of alumni and retired colleagues. The purpose of this newsletter is to keep you informed about departmental activities………………………From Alfred Hartemink

To access the rest of Vol. 8, No. 2 of “Profiles,” log in to MyUW and follow the link.  Watch for future volumes posted on this web site.