Contact Us  |  Search:   
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Policy and Global Affairs
Home About BISO Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Quick Links

Contact BISO
Board on International Scientific Organizations
Policy and Global Affairs
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth Street
Washington, DC 20001 USA
Tel: +1 202-334-2807
Fax: +1 202-334-2231

International Visitors Office
For visa-related issues, visit International Visitors Office

Contact the IVO

Tel:+1 202-334-2807
Fax:+1 202-334-2231

BISO Events Calendar

Events of US National
Committees and
international unions
associated with BISO



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   

Media from the December 5, 2016 Soils: The Foundation of Life Workshop Now Available
Click the flyer below to learn more and visit our workshop subpage:

Soils Workshop 12/16 Modified Flyer JPG 

USNC/IUSS Chair Donald Sparks Receives Coveted Clay Minerals Science Award
Donald Sparks, current chair of the U.S. National Committee for Soil Science and past president of the Soil Science Society of America and the International Union of Soil Sciences, is the 2016 winner of the Pioneer in Clay Science Award. Presented by the Clay Minerals Society (CMS) annually since 1987, this award recognizes achievements in clay mineral research. For more information on Dr. Sparks' career highlights and recent plenary lecture at the 2016 CMS meeting in Atlanta, read the full article in UDaily, the University of Delaware newspaper.

Soil Science Society of America Receives ASAE Award for International Year of Soils
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) presented the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) with a 2016 Gold Circle Award for its promotion of the International Year of Soils. The Gold Circle awards program highlights excellence in communication among associations and non-profit groups, and recognizes talent in several categories. The SSSA was recognized for achievement in Media/Public Relations/Advocacy.

Several past and present USNC/SS members and staff were involved with the planning and execution of the U.S. activities for the International Year of Soils coordinated by the SSSA. The IYS 2015 website serves as a repository for classroom resources, colorful infographics, social media tips, and an interactive blog.

USNC/IUSS Members Publish Paper in Science Journal
Four members of the USNC on Soil Sciences have published “Soil and human security in the 21st century” in the May 8, 2015 edition of Science. Ronald Amundson (UC Berkeley), Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (UC Merced), Ester Sztein (BISO), and Donald Sparks (University of Delaware), in collaboration with Jan Hopmans (UC Davis) and Carolyn Olson (USDA), contend that human activity is responsible for soil erosion at an unprecedented rate. Understanding these challenges, they argue, is imperative for human survival and stability. Read the University of Delaware and University of California, Merced press releases, or read the full paper here.

Since its release, "Soil and human security in the 21st century" has been cited and reviewed by several publications of note, including:

A comprehensive list of American and international press on the Science paper can be found here. The paper has also been cited in the October 2015 edition of the Journal of Applied Ecology, and on the Wikipedia page for "Peak Phosphorus."

"Soil and human security" Author Featured on Radio Program
University of California Merced professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe appeared on a July 22 radio program to discuss "Soil and human security in the 21st century." Berhe, who collaborated with five other soil scientists on the Science review paper, was a guest on Tom Willey's "Down on the Farm" on Fresno, CA station KFCF 88.1 FM. Listen to the complete interview here.

2015 Declared the International Year of Soils 
In December 2013, the United Nations General Assembly designated December 5 as World Soil Day and declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils (IYS). The designations were made in recognition of sustainable soil management’s essential role in food security, hunger eradication, climate change adaptation, poverty reduction, and sustainable development. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has been nominated to implement the IYS 2015, within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership and in collaboration with Governments and the secretariat of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. More information can be found on the 2015 IYS website, and a comprehensive calendar for IYS events is available on the 2015 IYS events website.

Past Activities
20th World Congress of Soil Science, Jeju Island, Korea

The 20th World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) was held in Korea at the Jeju International Convention Center from June 8-13, 2014. A highlight of the event was the election of Rattan Lal (The Ohio State University) as President of IUSS. He will serve as President-Elect until 2017. For more information, please visit the 20th WCSS website.

The Wilford Gardner World Congress of Soil Science Fellowship Program provided financial assistance for 12 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at U.S. institutions who made presentations at the 20th WCSS. More details can be found in the Soil Science Society of America’s news release, “Graduate and Postdoctoral Students Present Papers at World Congress of Soil Science.” 

2014 AAAS Symposium - “Santa’s Revenge: The Impacts of Arctic Warming on the Mid-Latitudes” - February 15, 2014
This symposium examined high-latitude changes linked to mid-latitude weather and the effect of these complex phenomena on freshwater resources, food availability, and national security. This event was spearheaded by the U.S. National Committee for Geodesy and Geophysics, and co-sponsored by the U.S. National Committees for INQUA, Soil Sciences, and Geological Sciences. An audio file of the symposium, the presentations given by each speaker, and a list of media coverage can be found on the 2014 Santa's Revenge archive page.
“Good Mentors Are Made, Not Born: A Mentor/Mentee Primer” Session
On November 5th, the USNC/SS co-organized the session “Good Mentors Are Made, Not Born: A Mentor/Mentee Primer” at the 2013 ASA, CSSA, and SSSA International Annual Meetings. The purpose of this session, sponsored by the SSSA’s Early Career Member Committee, was to present mentoring best practices. The session provided participants with a primer on common mentoring issues and gave attendees tips for the improvement of their mentoring skills. More information on this event can be found on the session’s webpage.

"Soil-mediated Drivers of Coupled Biogeochemical and Hydrological Processes Across Scales": 21-24 October, 2013
The USNC/SS co-organized an AGU Chapman Conference on “Soil-mediated Drivers of Coupled Biogeochemical and Hydrological Processes Across Scales.” This Chapman Conference brought together scientists from soil systems sciences, hydrology, and biogeochemistry to discuss recent findings dealing with the role and importance of coupled hydrological and biogeochemical processes occurring in the soil system and its interfaces with adjacent compartments. This four-day conference consisted of oral sessions, a poster session, four open workshop spaces, and a wrap up session. More information, including a list of speakers and contributors, is available at the conference website.

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

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.

To comment on this webpage or report an error, please send feedback to the BISO Site Manager.