Message from the Department Chair (Vol. 11, No. 2 of “Profiles”) — These are strange times. We left our offices mid-March and have not been back or only sporadically since. Classes are online and research and travel is halted or requires special permission. A fresh layer of rapidly changing bureaucracy has blanketed us, but the wheels keep turning, graduate students finish, exams are taken, and meetings are held on numerous virtual platforms. Grant and paper submissions are not affected, and possibly even increased.
The one thing that changed is that we as a soil science community do not meet in our departmental seminar, class rooms, labs, hallways, or walk into each other’s offices. We are all safe and well in our homes, rooms, or dorms. There is stormy weather ahead, and the university has projected a massive financial loss; undoubtedly some of that will be passed on to our department beyond the furloughs. In times like this, we trust our resilience and know that in the grand scheme of things, our soil research, teaching, and extension will continue as before. And it may even be better as we have had some time to think and contemplate.
On Sunday, March 17, most of us participated in a safely distanced parade in front of Steve Ventura’s house. Steve has retired after 31 years with the Department of Soil Science. He has been the chair for six years, but above all he has been a gracious and productive colleague, a broad thinker, and a friend to everyone. We are thrilled to announce that soon Zachary Freedman will join us as an assistant professor in soil microbiology. He comes from West Virginia and will deepen the research and teaching of the soil microbial world. These are strange times to retire or start a new position, and appropriate celebrations will follow later.
Lastly, I wish you the best from all of us in soils in Madison. We like to hear from you and please send us a note, and do come in when we are able to visit in person again.
To access the rest of Vol. 11, No. 2 of “Profiles,” https://uwmadison.box.com/s/g6s94jzelpwy3fbdngym03kikvqqylaw