2016 Soil Health Conference | Speakers

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Dr. Jo Handelsman is the Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in June of 2014. Dr. Handelsman helps to advise President Obama on the implications of science for the Nation, ways in which science can inform U.S. policy, and on Federal efforts in support of scientific research.

Prior to joining OSTP, Dr. Handelsman was the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Frederick Phineas Rose Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. She previously served on the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty as a Professor in Plant Pathology, and as Professor and Chair of the Department of Bacteriology. In 2013, she served as President of the American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Handelsman is an expert in communication among bacteria that associate with soil, plants, and insects and helped pioneer the field of metagenomics, bridging agricultural and medical sciences. 

wintersteen head shot Dr. Wendy Wintersteen is the Endowed Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station. Prior to becoming dean in 2006, she served as the college’s senior associate dean and associate director of the Experiment Station. In her career at Iowa State, she also has served as professor of entomology; director of Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources; and coordinator of pesticide management and pesticide applicator training programs. She serves on the board of trustees of the Farm Foundation, the board of directors for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology and the board of directors of the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund. She earned a bachelor’s of science degree in agriculture from Kansas State University and her Ph.D. in entomology from Iowa State University. 
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Dr. Wayne Honeycutt is Deputy Chief for Science and Technology with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Washington, DC. He received his Bachelor's degree in Forestry and Master's degree in Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, and his Ph.D. in Soil Genesis from Colorado State University. He served as a Research Soil Scientist for 14 years and a Research Leader for 10 years at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) New England Plant, Soil, and Water Laboratory, where he led and conducted interdisciplinary research on nutrient cycling and sustainable cropping systems.

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Dr. Jane Johnson is a Research Soil Scientist with USDA-ARS. Her research is focused on identifying and developing environmentally sustainable, economically viable and agronomically feasible agricultural practices through local, national and inter-national collaboration. Her research covers carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas emission, role of biomass for energy and impacts on soil quality and productivity.

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Dr. Brian Wienhold is a Soil Scientist with USDA-ARS in Lincoln NE. His research is focused on the role of soil management practices such as tillage, crop rotation, and residue management on soil quality and productivity. He has also participated in the development and validation of several soil quality and management assessment tools.

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Dr. Cynthia Cambardella is a Soil Scientist with the USDA-ARS at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment in Ames, IA, and Associate Professor (collaborative) of Soil Science in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University. She earned her B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Maryland and Ph.D. in Soil Science and Ecology from Colorado State University. Her research focus since joining the USDA-ARS in 1991 has been to explore how changes in agricultural management, land-use, and climate impact soil and water quality by improving our understanding of the interrelationships among plant roots, soil organic matter, soil structure and the cycling of C and N in natural and managed ecosystems.

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Dr. J. Gordon Arbuckle Jr. is an Associate Professor and Extension Sociologist at Iowa State University. He is co-director of the Iowa Farm and Rural Life Poll, an annual survey of Iowa farmers. His research and extension efforts are focused on improving the environmental and social performance of agricultural systems. His primary interest is in farmer decision making, especially regarding soil and water quality. Other areas of interest to Dr. Arbuckle Jr. include climate change and agriculture, non-operator landownership, and pesticide resistance management.

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Jim Gulliford serves as Executive Director of the Soil and Water Conservation Society – a professional society dedicated to promoting the science and art of natural resource conservation. Before joining the Soil and Water Conservation Society, He served 7.5 years as EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, and Regional Administrator for the Kansas City Regional Office.

He directed soil and water conservation programs for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship from 1982-2001. He began his natural resources management career with a 1973 BS in forestry management and a 1975 MS in forestry economics and marketing; both from Iowa State University.

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Dr. Lisa Schulte Moore is an Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. She studies human-landscape interactions and co-leads the STRIPS project. Her current projects address the strategic integration of perennials into agricultural landscapes to meet multifunctional societal goals. She is a member of the Ecological Society of America's "Rapid Response Team", and a trustee with the Iowa Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

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Dr. Joel Gruver grew up on a small diversified in rural Maryland. He has a BS in Chemistry from Principia College, a MS in Agronomy from the University of Maryland and a PhD in Soil Science from NC State University. He has been a Professor of Soil Science and Sustainable Agriculture in the School of Agriculture at Western Illinois University since January 2007. In addition to teaching 6 classes, Dr. Gruver conducts research related to cover crops and organic grain production and regularly shares presentations at industry and scientific meetings about conservation cropping systems.

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Dr. Jerry L. Hatfield is the Laboratory Director of the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment and Director of the Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, Iowa. His research focuses on quantifying the interactions among the components of the soil-plant-atmosphere system to quantify resilience of cropping systems to climate change. He represents agriculture on the National Climate Assessment, as a member of the IPCC process that received the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the recipient of numerous awards and was elected to the ARS Hall of Fame in 2014. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America and Past-President of the American Society of Agronomy.

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Allison Thomson is the Science and Research Director for Field to Market, the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. She holds a BA from Carleton College and a Masters of Environmental Management from Duke University and has fifteen years of experience in interdisciplinary research on agricultural systems and their interactions with energy systems and the environment. Her work has included participation in field campaigns, simulation modeling of crops at the farm scale, and national and global scale simulation modeling of current and future agricultural system dynamics.

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Dr. Mike Lehman is a soil microbiologist with the USDA-ARS North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Brookings, South Dakota. His research documents the effect of agricultural management practices including crop diversity, cover cropping, and residue management on soil microbial populations and processes.

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Dr. Nicholas Goeser is Director of The Soil Health Partnership and Director of Soil Health and Sustainability for the National Corn Growers Association. In this role, Nick focuses on the construction of a demonstration farm network across Illinois, Iowa and Indiana to connect soil health with on-farm management, crop productivity, profitability and environmental responses through data collection, analysis and communications. Nick’s prior research background includes over a decade of research in the areas of crop production, nutrient cycling and management, and environmental quality.

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Dr. Douglas L. Karlen is a Distinguished Senior Research Scientist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment (NLAE) in Ames, IA. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. He earned his B.S., M.S. and PhD. degrees in soil science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, Michigan State University, and Kansas State University, respectively. His research is focused on soil quality assessment as a tool to quantify effects of soil and crop management practices including tillage, crop rotation, nutrient management, manure management and most recently crop residue removal on the sustainability of agricultural management systems.

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Dr. Richard M. Cruse is a Professor of Soil Science in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University and also the Director of the Iowa Water Center. Rick received his BS degree from Iowa State University and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Minnesota. His research, teaching and extension responsibilities are focused on soil management. He is a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society of America, and is currently the President elect of the US National Institutes for Water Resources.

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Dr. Lois Wright Morton is Professor of Sociology at Iowa State. Her research applies the science civic structure, social relations and farmer decision making to better understand the management of agro-ecosystems and how the dual goals of agricultural production and ecosystem integrity can be concurrently realized at field, farm and watershed scales. Dr. Morton directs the USDA-NIFA Climate & Corn-based Cropping System Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) www.sustainablecorn.org, a transdisciplinary team of over 140 scientists and extension educators representing 10 Land Grant Universities across the upper Midwest and USDA-ARS Columbus, Ohio.

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Marty Adkins is an Assistant State Conservationist for Partnerships at the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) in Des Moines, Iowa.  He earned his B.S. degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University and grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Council Bluffs, Iowa. In his current position, he develops partnerships to promote conservation and provides leadership for water resources programs. During his 34 years career with the NRCS in Iowa, Marty has also served in a variety of capacities at the state and field levels, including district conservationist, RC&D coordinator, Assistant State Conservationist for Water Resources and State Resource Conservationist.

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Doug Peterson has been an NRCS employee for over 28 years. He started his career as a Soil Scientist.  He has been a District Conservationist in both a grassland based county in south Missouri and a large cropland county in north Missouri. Currently he is a Regional Soil Health Specialist teaching NRCS staff and producers around the mid-west about soil health, how it impacts virtually all natural resource processes, and what type of management it will take to effectively improve our soils health and productivity. He attended college at Missouri Western State University graduating in 1986 with a B.S. degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics and Agronomy.

He grew up on a crop and livestock farm near Newtown in north Missouri.  Today he continues to operate a cow/calf and contract grazing operation with his father, Steve.  Currently they run about 350 cows. They utilize Management-intensive Grazing and Holistic High Density Grazing to improve soil health, eliminate the need for most purchased fertilizer and limit hay needs to about one bale per cow per winter. Doug’s NRCS training coupled with his real world hands on experience make him a unique speaker that is relatable to both agency personnel and producers.