UF soil scientist selected ‘fellow’ in national society

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Sabine Grunwald likes to get her hands dirty, and in the process, try to conserve the environment.

The University of Florida scientist has been selected as one of 12 new fellows to the Soil Science Society of America, a professional society.

A professor in the UF/IFAS department of soil and water sciences, Grunwald specializes in digital soil mapping and modeling of soil landscapes. One thing she measures is how well soil stores carbon and how it is changed by global climate and land-use shifts. Her research also includes soil sensing, ecosystem service assessment and developing new soil indices to optimize soil management.

She said her most recent research has found that climate change matters because it changes the total environment – above ground and below ground, often impacting the whole system.

“Soil health is essential for a functioning environment and ultimately to preserve life on Earth,” she said. “We are all part of the environment, whether we live in cities or rural areas. Thus, how we treat and how we manage soil-ecosystems impacts all of us.”

“Soils are silent, they don’t cry out loud in our faces, and when soil carbon is lost — or soils are degraded in one way or another — they cannot be easily regenerated to provide the functions to sustain food, water, biodiversity and humanity,” Grunwald said.

She even compared soil health to human health.

“We want to stay in the ‘green zone’ to be healthy,” Grunwald said. “The same is true for soils. Staying in the ‘green zone’ means to maintain healthy soil environments that benefit all of us. Imagine if there was no soil in your backyard, under the citrus grove, the blueberry field, the wetland, the forest or under your feet – and you would likely recognize that the world is bleak, barren and inhospitable.”

“While her research program can be ranked as exemplary, her teaching program is where she shows her greatest level of creativity,” said Nick Comerford, a professor of soil and water sciences and director of the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, Florida.

As an example, Comerford noted Grunwald’s computer and digital media skills, which helped to develop the first master’s distance education program for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. At the time, Grunwald served as coordinator of the new master’s program in environmental science and became director of the department’s distance education programs.

Ramesh Reddy, chairman of the UF/IFAS soil and water sciences department, said Grunwald is the 12th active faculty member in the department chosen for the honor.

“Dr. Grunwald is an outstanding scientist who developed an internationally recognized interdisciplinary program focused on soil-landscape analysis to develop a framework for sustainable holistic land-resource management,” Reddy said.

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By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

 

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