Diana Wall (USA)
Address:Dept Biology and Natural Resource Ecology
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1499
Position:Professor and Senior Research Scientist
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
I actually began studying general microbiology and nematode ecology as an undergraduate and it opened a new world to me. As a graduate student in plant pathology I was fascinated by the activity of microscopic nematode communities and their influence on plants.
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
I had several who were influential. A high school biology teacher, my college microbiology professor and a college plant pathology professor.
3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?
Soil science is still in the discovery phase ...at the same time we are tasked with how to sustain soils. There is so much happening: new tools and methods to clarify soil invertebrate and microbial biodiversity and its relation to our aboveground world; science that explores sustaining the environment and food and fiber production: integration of multi disciplines such as organism natural history, hydrology, ecology, biodiversity, and ecosystem services into soil science. The science and management of the hidden assets of soil and linked sediment biodiversity as a natural resource is especially exciting.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science?
There are many excellent examples from other professors that show that field and lab experiments can attract and involve students. My approaches would be those that relate the environment to soil invertebrates. Soil invertebrates are captivating and a critical part of soil science that can be used to unravel many current topics such as: plant-invertebrate interactions and carbon cycling; patterns of belowground and aboveground diversity; biotic responses and feedbacks to climate and land use changes, manipulations and management of soil food webs for sustainable production; determination of vulnerable species and processes in soils in relation to global changes; and relating soil biodiversity to ecosystem services.
5. How do you see the future of soil science?
Those of us who study soils have a formidable challenge and must quickly define priorities to help address complex environmental problems. Soil science must lead by incluson. The traditional soil science disciplines have broadened and new fields developed that we must embrace. A vision that combines these into an ecosystems approach is fundamental to, and critically needed for developing strategies of future use and management under global changes.