“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.


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