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U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences

The U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences (USNC/SS) represents the interests of the U.S. soil science community in the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) and provides leadership in the advancement of soil science nationally and internationally. The committee advises The National Academies in all matters pertaining to the IUSS and supports U.S. participation in the international arena. To identify relevant issues for the committee to address, the USNC communicates with professional societies and organizations.

What's New   

Soil Health and Human Health Conference: Media Update
The Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health took place at the Doubletree Hotel in Silver Spring, MD, on October 16 and 17, 2018. The Soil Heath Institute is pleased to announce the release of its conference report, which can be viewed at The PDF document includes summaries of breakout sessions as well as links to YouTube recordings of various talks.

Remembering Larry Wilding (1934-2019)
The USNC/Soils extends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr. Lawrence "Larry" Wilding, who passed away on January 12, 2019. Larry Wilding was a renowned soil scientist and Professor Emeritus at Texas A&M University. He played an integral role in the transformation of the International Society of Soil Science into the International Union of Soil Sciences. He was a founding member of the USNC/Soils, on which he served from 1998 to 2000. From 2001-2006 he was an ex-officio member of the USNC while he was the co-chair of the  2006 World Congress of Soil Science held in Philadelphia. One of Larry's legacies with the USNC was his advocacy at the formation of the IUSS and the USNC/Soils for soil science to be viewed as not just agriculturally focused, but also part of the geoscience community.

Larry, along with his wife Gladys, was passionate about creating opportunities for Texas A&M students in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences to travel abroad. To donate to the Larry and Gladys Wilding International Student Travel Scholarship Fund, please visit

IUSS President Rattan Lal Receives Prestigious Japan Prize
The U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences congratulates Dr. Rattan Lal, a longtime member of the USNC/Soils and current president of the International Union of Soil Sciences, for receiving one of two Japan Prize awards in 2019. The Japan Prize is awarded annually in two scientific fields by the Japan Foundation, which fosters international research in various scientific and engineering fields. Dr. Lal is being honored for his contributions and research in soils, sustainability, and global food security.

For more information on Dr. Lal's accomplishments, the Japan Prize, and the Japan Prize Foundation, please visit

USNC/Soils Special Session at SSSA Meeting
Ronald Amundson, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Donald Sparks, and Ester Sztein organized a special session on behalf of the USNC/Soils at the 2019 Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) International Soils Meeting, held from January 6--9 in San Diego, California. The USNC/Soils special session explored how forms of social unrest impact food security and national security more broadly. A session abstract is available here.

USNC/Soils Chair Featured in Interview
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soils, was interviewed for an October 2018 article in transverse RANGES. The online magazine is devoted to highlighting the diverse backgrounds of geoscientists, and asked Dr. Berhe about her childhood in Ethiopia, experience teaching at a young age, and passion for soils. Read the article here:, and follow transverse RANGES on Twitter at @transvrseRANGES.

Chair of USNC/Soils Joins National Academies' "New Voices" Initiative
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is one of eighteen professionals selected for the "New Voices in Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine" inaugural cohort. This group of early career scientists will meet over the course of two years to discuss current issues of importance and attend events centered around science policy. For more information on cohort members and activities, see the New Voices press release on the National Academies website, or the UCMerced press release.

The USNC/Soils congratulates Dr. Berhe on this tremendous honor.

Congratulations to Diana Wall, New NAS Member

The U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences extends heartfelt congratulations to Diana Wall, who became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018. Dr. Wall was a founding member of the UNSC/SS and has participated in a number of committee activities over the last twenty years. Most recently, she was a presenter at the Soils: The Foundation of Life workshop in 2016.

Eighteen Travel Fellowships Awarded from the Wilford Gardner IUSS Congress Fellowship Program

Congratulations to the eighteen graduate students and researchers who have received Wilford Gardner fellowships to attend the 20th World Congress of Soil Science in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2018. This USNC/Soils - Soil Science Society of America joint fellowship program is administered by the USNC/Soils, and funded by generous grants from the National Science Foundation, the Soil Science Society of America, and the American Society of Agronomy. We are grateful to the University of California-Merced for additional assistance. The USNC/Soils-Soil Science Society of America fellowship program is named in honor of the USNC/SS's founding chair and SSSA past-president, Wilford R. Gardner. In alphabetical order, the eighteen recipients are:

Dinesh Adhikari, University of Nevada-Reno
Diego Barcellos, University of Georgia
Aaron Betts, University of Delaware
Erin Bush, Kansas State University
Thomas Close, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Jennifer Cooper, University of Florida
Chelsea Duball, University of Wyoming
Claire Friedrichsen, University of Florida
Aaron Joslin, University of Georgia
Kay Kastner-Wilcox, University of Florida
Kimber Moreland, University of California-Merced
Anna Paltseva, City University of New York
Joshua Sanchez, University of Delaware
Tyler Sowers, University of Delaware
Zachary Stewart, Kansas State University
Ligia Faria Tavares de Souza, University of Kansas
Adrian Wackett, University of Minnesota
Joseph (Jay) Weeks, Kansas State University

For more information about the upcoming WCSS, visit

Soils on Public Radio
IUSS President Rattan Lal appeared on a WAMU 88.5 program on Monday, December 4, 2017 to discuss soil and crop health. The complete podcast, "The Ground Beneath Our Feet," is located on the American University Radio website.

International Decade of Soils LogoIUSS Celebrates International Decade of Soils -- 2015-2024
Following the highly successful International Year of Soils in 2015, the IUSS is continuing its efforts and activities as we advance toward the 2024 Centenary of the IUSS formation. For a comprehensive list of national and international soils-related events, please visit the International Decade of Soils webpage

"Soils and Society: A Shared Future" Video Highlights Frontier Areas of Soil Science
USNC/Soils Chair Donald Sparks, along with committee members Pedro Sanchez and Diana Wall, discussed the future of soil science and its connection to society at the Soils: the Foundation of Life Workshop held December 5, 2016 at the National Academies Keck Center. Watch the video to learn more, and visit our workshop subpage to learn more.

The Soils: the Foundation of Life proceedings of a workshop-in-brief is also available for download via the National Academies Press.

Two New Additions to the World Soils Book Series
Springer Publishing announces two 2017 additions to its World Soils Book Series: The Soils of the USA and The Soils of Wisconsin, both available now for purchase. All books in the World Soils series, according to the website, "summarize what is known about the soils in a particular country in a concise and highly reader-friendly way."


Activities and Events

Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop

Resource Links
IUSS Webpage

Contact the USNC/SS

Ester Sztein, Assistant Director
Pam Gamble, Administrative Associate

2016 AGU Session (PDF):
"The U.S. Government Role in Preserving Geoscience Sample and Data Collections" by Ester Sztein

December 16, 2015 AGU Session (PDF):
"Arctic Science Diplomacy: Opportunities for International Collaboration and Policy-Engaged Scholarship" by Ester Sztein and Melody Brown Burkins

February 15, 2014 AAAS Session: “Santa’s Revenge: The Impacts of Arctic Warming on the Mid-Latitudes”

December 12, 2013 AGU Session (PDF): “Science Diplomacy in the Geosciences”

February 15, 2013 AAAS Session: “U.S. Climate and Weather Extremes: Past, Present, and Future"

December 7, 2012 AGU Town Hall (PDF): “International Geoscience”

February 19, 2012 AAAS Session: “Causes and Effects of Relative Sea-Level Changes in the Northeast Pacific"

February 17, 2012 AAAS Session: “Toward Stabilization of Net Global Carbon Dioxide Levels"

February 20, 2011 AAAS Session: “The Practice of Science Diplomacy in the Earth Sciences”

February 19, 2010 AAAS Session: "Dust in the Earth System"

December 17, 2009 AGU Poster Sessions: “Extreme Natural Hazards: Risk Assessment, Forecasting, and Decision Support”

February 16, 2009 AAAS Session: "Global Sea Level Rise: Observation, Causes, and Prediction"

September 25, 2008 BISO Symposium (PDF): “Global Connections among Earth Sciences, Health, and Policy"

February 15, 2008 AAAS Session (PDF): "Planet Earth: Lessons Ignored, Lessons Learned”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number ICER-1312037. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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