Penn State Soil Characterization Lab
Soil is an integral part of ecosystem function. There are 29 million acres (11,735,884 hectares) of soil in Pennsylvania supporting: wetlands; forest lands; agricultural lands; urban lands; homes, businesses, and roads; our drinking and wastewater filtration. Without soil, these activities and functions would be much more difficult and in some cases even impossible, for soil is as precious to our lives as the very blood in our bodies.
Research in the Soil Characterization Laboratory focuses on people’s use of landscapes and the accompanying changes in soil function across the larger ecosystem the soil supports. Dr. Drohan’s research group addresses basic science questions, but also demonstrates how this new knowledge can be applied to improve land management and ecosystem stability.
Soil Characterization Lab News
NEW PAPER: Turnover of soil carbon following addition of switchgrass-derived biochar to four soils
January 17, 2014
NEW paper: The Joy of Teaching Soil Science
December 20, 2013The fundamental purposes of teaching are to impart knowledge, insight, and inspiration. Around the world, university teaching principles are changing as students also gain knowledge and inspiration in ways other than in the class room. Likewise, the soil science discipline is evolving as there is a new set of tools and techniques available by which we investigate soils, and the foci are shifting toward other disciplines and changing research questions. In many universities, the teaching of undergraduate soil science increasingly takes place to non-soil science majors. All these forces require some thinking about how we teach the subject and here we present some of our experiences and ideas of teaching soil science in different parts of the world. Some 15 examples are presented from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, Taiwan, The Netherlands, and the USA. As the research is widening so is our teaching. The examples are diverse and, despite cultural and personal differences, they show several trends. The cases represent vibrant and creative ways to teach soils, and the initial focus is to create a sense of wonder about the soil and its utilitarian and scientific value.
PhD student Lauren Vitko wins 1st in SSSA poster contest
December 9, 2013PhD student Lauren Vitko took 1st place in the Pedology Division graduate student poster contest. Lauren presented her thesis research, Soil and Topographic Influences On Spatiotemporal Patterns of Saturated Zones, at the SSSA/ASA/CSSA annual meeting in Tampa, FL.