Soil science graduates at the December 2019 commencement. The 500th PhD student with yellow roses!
The Department of Soil Science recently graduated its 500th PhD student, a milestone that is probably unmatched by any other soils department in the world. The department was founded a little over 130 years ago and the first two BS degrees in soil science were awarded in 1905, followed a year later by the first MS degree. The first PhD degree was awarded in 1918 to Harlow Walster, who grew up on farm in Troy, Wisconsin. He became the Dean of the North Dakota Agricultural College.
Let’s do the numbers! In total, the department has awarded 2,409 degrees of which there are 1,312 BS degrees and 597 MS degrees. There were peaks in BS degrees in the early 1950s and early 1980s, and both the MS and PhD degrees have been steady over the past 40 years with on average 4 to 5 students per year. The 500th PhD degree in soil science was awarded to Yakun Zhang who conducted research on novel methods of soil profile characterization and digital soil morphometrics.
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