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2021 NCSS National Conference – Speakers’ Bios

Photo of Cristine Morgan from NSHI.Cristine Morgan — Keynote Speaker
National Soil Health Institute

Dr. Cristine Morgan serves as Chief Scientific Officer at the Soil Health Institute, where she establishes research priorities to advance soil health and develops the scientific direction, strategy, and implementation for soil health research programs. Dr. Morgan is an adjunct professor of Soil Science at Texas A&M University with emphasis in soil hydrology, pedometrics, and global soil security. She is an editor in chief at Geoderma, a global soil science journal, and a founding editor in chief of Soil Security. Dr. Morgan has served on the board of directors for the Soil Science Society of America, currently serves on the board for the North American Plant Phenotyping Network, and is a fellow of SSSA. Dr. Morgan earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.S. degree in Plant and Environmental Soil Sciences from Texas A&M University.

Photo of Ben Malone from NRCS.Ben Malone
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Ben Malone is the eighth State Conservationist to serve Alabama’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. He holds a degree in forest management from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (Alabama A&M). Malone began his career in conservation as a student trainee in New York and Maine with the U.S. Forest Service. He served as a Forester with the U.S. Forest Service in Vermont until he accepted a position with the NRCS as a Soil Conservationist in Mobile, Ala. in February 1997.

Over his 24-year career with NRCS, Malone has served as a District Conservationist, Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Coordinator, and Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations. In 2005, Malone became the Emergency Operations Center Manager for Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in Louisiana. As Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, Malone managed conservation efforts in 18 counties and 11 field offices. In April 2011, his area was devastated by numerous tornadoes. He and his staff are credited with helping communities recover from the disaster’s effects.

Photo of Terry Cosby from NRCS.Terry Cosby
USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS Chief Terry Cosby began his career with the agency in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. Terry’s roots run deep. Raised on a cotton farm with his eight siblings in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, his love for the land began at an early age. The farm, now in his family for three generations, was purchased by his great-grandfather in the late 1800s.

Over Cosby’s 42 years with the agency, he has served in numerous capacities, most recently, Acting Chief of NRCS and State Conservationist for Ohio. Prior to serving as Ohio State Conservationist, he has served in leadership positions in Iowa as an Area Resource Conservationist, in Missouri as an Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations, and Idaho as a Deputy State Conservationist.

One of Terry’s proudest achievements is the instrumental role he played in establishing the Ohio Interagency Forestry Team and in the formation of its governance model and business plan. Under his leadership, Ohio was the first state to use Environmental Quality Incentive Program funds for forestry practices. Today, he leads the NRCS Hiring Strategy initiative, which will shape, guide, and solidify NRCS as the premiere technical service agency for USDA conservation.

Photo of Paul Patterson from Auburn.Paul Patterson
Auburn University, College of Agriculture

Paul Patterson was named dean of the Auburn University College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station in February 2016. He most recently had served as associate dean for instruction in the college, a position he had held since June 2009.

Patterson is an Auburn, Alabama, native and an alumnus of the college he now leads, graduating with a B.S. degree in agricultural business and economics in 1985. He received his M.S. in agricultural economics from Purdue University in 1987 and spent the next two years as a cotton analyst for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service before returning to Purdue to pursue his doctoral degree. He was awarded a Ph.D. in agricultural economics in 1994.

In 1995, he joined the faculty at Arizona State University’s Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, where he taught courses in agricultural marketing, management science, and food and agricultural policy. His research concentrated on issues ranging from food marketing and industrial organization to global trade and international food and agricultural policy. In 2006, he was appointed interim dean of the school, and in January 2007, the position was made permanent.

Photo of Walter Hill from Tuskegee.Walter A. Hill
Tuskegee University, College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences

Walter is Dean (33 years), Director/Administrator of 1890 Research and Extension, and Director of the Carver Agricultural Experiment Station. Hill was Director of the NASA Center for Food and Environmental Systems for Human Exploration of Space for 20 years (including two space flight, plant growth experiments). He is Director of the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture Center of Excellence in Innovation and Sustainability for Small Farmers, Ranchers, and Forest Landowners. He served as Chair of the 1890 Council of Deans, Association of Research Directors, and APLU Academic Heads Section. Hill has 133 publications and two patents. He received a B.A. in chemistry from Lake Forest College, an M.A.T. in chemistry from the University of Chicago, an M.S. in agricultural chemistry and soils from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in agronomy and environmental chemistry from the University of Illinois. In 2016, Walter was inducted into the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hall of Fame.

Photo of Joseph E. Quansah from Tuskegee University.Joseph E. Quansah
Tuskegee University, Geospatial and Climate Change Center

Joseph is an Associate Professor and Director of the Geospatial and Climate Change Center at Tuskegee University. His research and teaching activities focus on; water resources and ecohydrologic engineering, watershed/water quality modeling, climate change, geospatial science and information systems, forestry and crop modeling, soil science, and digital agriculture and extension. He serves as both Principal Investigator and collaborator on national and international projects. He has served as an advisor for 20+ graduate level research theses/dissertations and has authored and co-authored many journal publications. Joseph received the Kristof award for outstanding research in Remote Sensing in 2005. His prior experiences include Research Hydrologist with United States Geological Survey and Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Purdue University. Joseph received his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Biological Engineering and MSE in Civil Engineering from Purdue University. He also studied Earth Observation at KU Leuven in Belgium and Geomatics Engineering at KNUST in Ghana.

Photo of Lloyd Walker from Alabama A&M.Lloyd Walker
Alabama A&M University, College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences

Dr. Lloyd T. Walker is the dean and research director of the College of Agricultural, Life and Natural Sciences, Alabama A&M University (AAMU). Dr. Walker, a tenured professor, is a food scientist by training who chaired the Department of Food and Animal Sciences from 1999–2008. He is credited with the growth of the Department of Food and Animal Sciences to its current national prominence as a top-tier program among universities with similar Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) accreditation. The Department is also recognized as one of the top producers of African American PhDs in the discipline and transitioning undergraduates to graduate studies in food science.

Dr. Walker joined AAMU in 1992 as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate after completing his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. He received his undergraduate and M.S. degrees in animal science from Prairie View A&M University.

In his 20 plus years at AAMU, he has mentored and advised numerous graduate and undergraduate students. His scholarly record shows upwards of 150 publications, more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, and three book chapters.

Photo of Dedrick Davis from Alabama A&M.Dedrick Davis
Alabama A&M University

Dedrick Davis is currently an Associate Professor of Soil Physics at Alabama A&M University, where he conducts research, advises graduate students, and teaches courses such as Soil Physics and Scientific Writing. His research focuses on measuring and characterizing soil physical properties and quantifying soil physical processes using laboratory experiments, field experiments, and novel measurement techniques. Specifically, Dr. Davis’ research interests include coupled heat and water transfer in soil, soil water retention, and soil health. Dr. Davis received his Ph.D. in Soil Science and Environmental Science from Iowa State University (ISU) after obtaining his M.S. degree from ISU in 2005. He completed his B.S. in Soil Science at Alabama A&M University. Dr. Davis is a member of the Soil Science Society of America and the American Society of Agronomy, among others. He also serves on the Editorial Board of the Soil Science Society of America Journal and Geoderma. Dr. Davis also participates in several programs that encourage the participation of underrepresented students in STEM and agriculture.

Photo of Dave Lindbo from NRCS.Dave Lindbo
USDA-NRCS, Soil and Plant Science Division

Dr. Lindbo currently serves as Director of the Soil and Plant Science Division with USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and is a Professor Emeritus of Soil Science in the Department of Soil Science at North Carolina State University. Dr. Lindbo is a former President of the Soil Science Society of America.

Dr. Lindbo directs the soil and ecological site survey, research, and interpretation programs for the USDA-NRCS. He has spent his career working on land use soils relations, including soil interpretations, hydric soils, wastewater, and related issues. He has worked extensively with K12 students and teachers regarding soils and land use education.

He has authored/co-authored numerous research and extension publications, including practitioner training materials related to decentralized wastewater, low-impact development issues, hydric soils, and hydropedology as well as a general interest soil book for young children, “Soil! Get the Inside Scoop” and an advanced book “Know Soil, Know Life.” He has over 130 publications, has given over 200 invited presentations, and taught well over 10,000 professionals in his array of extension courses.

Photo of Dana Chandler from Tuskegee.Dana Chandler
Tuskegee University

Dana Chandler is a trained archivist and historian, receiving his graduate degree from Auburn University. He works as the University Archivist/Associate Professor at Tuskegee University and is the co-author of To Raise Up the Man Farthest Down: Tuskegee University’s Advancements in Human Health, 1881-1987 (University of Alabama Press, 2018).

He has had over seventy presentations at a variety of venues and teaches history in the Department of History and Political Science. He specializes in the history of Tuskegee University.

William Puckett_Al SWC.jpgWilliam E. Puckett
Alabama State Soil and Water Conservation Committee

Dr. Puckett has more than three decades of experience in soil and water conservation. Puckett currently serves as the Executive Director of Alabama's Soil and Water Conservation Committee (SWCC), where he leads 67 conservation districts in a statewide effort to implement locally-led conservation priorities. He also provides leadership for the Alabama Agricultural Conservation and Development Commission. The Commission provides cost-share for the installation of conservation practices. Prior to taking on this role with SWCC, he served as State Conservationist with the USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Alabama for six years. Before coming to Alabama, Dr. Puckett was the NRCS Deputy Chief for Science and Technology and Soil Survey and Resource Assessment in Washington, D.C. He was also Director of the NRCS Soil Quality Institute. Dr. Puckett is known for his proactive approach, can-do attitude, and building effective partnerships with a host of organizations and agencies committed to soil and water conservation and the wise stewardship of Alabama's natural resources.

Photo of John Andreoni from NRCS.John Andreoni
USDA-NRCS, Soil and Plant Science Division

John Andreoni is a Management Analyst with the Soil and Plant Science Division based in Denver, Colorado. He has been with the Division for over three years, coming in as a Presidential Management Fellow after receiving a Master of Science in Conservation Ecology and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor under Dr. Dorceta Taylor.

While at Michigan, he was involved with environmental justice-related work through his research on the conservation potential of cattle ranches in Western Nicaragua and the implementation of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at the School of Natural Resources and Environment, now the School for Environment and Sustainability.

Photo of Kevin Norwood from NRCS.Kevin Norwood
USDA-NRCS, Soil and Plant Science Division

Kevin Norwood is the North/East Central Glaciated Regional Director, Indianapolis, Indiana, and responsible for Soil Survey operations in 9 states. He is a graduate of Alabama A&M University and has been working for NRCS for 21 years. Kevin started his career as a soil conservationist Student Trainee in Iowa and then converted to a Soil Scientist upon graduation. He worked on Iowa and Winneshiek counties and served as project lead for Bremer County Soil Survey before becoming the MRLA Soil Survey Office Leader in Indianapolis, Indiana. During his career, he served on many details: Lake Tahoe California Soil Survey Update, Acting State Soil Scientist in Maryland, Acting State Soil Scientist in Ohio, and Conservation Boot Camp Instructor.

Photo of Mark Stolt from URI.Mark Stolt
University of Rhode Island

Mark H. Stolt is a Professor of Pedology and Soil Environmental Science at the University of Rhode Island (URI). He teaches soil morphology, classification, genesis, mapping, conservation, and land use to graduate and undergraduate students. He has been coaching the URI soils team for over 20 years. His research focuses on riparian, palustrine, coastal, and subaqueous soils and landscapes.

Mark has been the major professor for 25 graduate students publishing over 75 research papers. His most recent scholarly activities have focused on collaborative efforts to increase the efficiency and use of Soil Taxonomy. He is the president of the Society of Soil Scientists of Southern New England, Chairman of the New England Hydric Soils Technical Committee, and Chairman of the Fundamental Changes to Soil Taxonomy Task Force.

Photo of Andy Colter from the U.S. Forest Service.Andy Colter
U.S. Forest Service

Andy is the National Soils Program Leader for the National Forest System in the U.S. Forest Service.

Andy’s interests are in forest management with an emphasis on doing what’s right on the ground based on what the soils and ecology are telling us, developing partnerships to build capacity and achieve common goals, and incorporating new technologies to maximize time on the ground.

Andy is continuing to help the Forest Service build on forest soil management in Terrestrial Ecological Unit Inventory development, soil carbon, soil disturbance, and long-term soil monitoring. Andy has a broad educational background consisting of a B.S. in general agriculture, an M.S. in plant and soil science, and a Ph.D. in forest ecology.

Photo of Marina Skumanich from NOAA.Marina Skumanich
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Marina Skumanich is a program specialist with NOAA-NIDIS (the National Integrated Drought Information System) and provides staff support to the inter-agency National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network, a multi-institutional effort to better coordinate and leverage soil moisture data from in situ mesonets, satellites, and modeled output to develop near-real-time decision support tools for a wide range of applications, from drought and flooding, to climatology research, to forest harvesting and fire management.

NRCS soil survey research is a critical component of this effort, given how dependent soil moisture interpretation is on accurate soil characterization.

Photo of Keith Martin from Poarch Creek.Keith Martin
Poarch Creek Tribal Council

Keith Martin was raised in the heart of Poarch, Alabama, on Indian School Road. He has been a proud member of the Poarch Creek Tribal Council since June 3, 2006. Prior to this position, Martin served on the PCI Gaming Commission, Creek Indian Enterprises Board, and the PCI Gaming Board. As a Tribal Council Member, he serves on the Budget and Finance Committee and Government Affairs & Rules Legislative Committees. He is also Chair of the Land and Natural Resources Committee. In his position, he frequently travels to Washington, DC, and state capitals to lobby for the betterment of all United States' tribes as well as his own.

A true believer in the Poarch Creek people, Martin is deeply committed to working together with the local communities, local municipalities, and all levels of government for a future that benefits the entire community and state. To help ensure that future generations will be able to live and work close to home, he was instrumental in working with consultants to help align resources for the Tribe.

Photo of Kip Balkcom from ARS.Kip Balkcom
USDA, Agriculture Research Service

Dr. Kip Balkcom is a Research Agronomist with USDA-ARS at the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory (NSDL) located in Auburn, Alabama. He graduated with a B.S. (1994) in Agronomy and Soils and an M.S. (1997) in Soil Fertility/Chemistry, both from Auburn University and a Ph.D. (2000) in Soil Fertility from Iowa State University. Dr. Balkcom began his career with USDA-ARS in 2001 at the National Peanut Research Laboratory in Dawson, Georgia, as a Research Agronomist working in cropping systems with an emphasis on conservation tillage and cover crops.

Dr. Balkcom transferred to the NSDL in 2003 and continued his research in conservation systems focused on complex interactions between crop and soil management systems across corn, cotton, peanut, and small grain production systems in the Southeast. Dr. Balkcom also serves as an adjunct faculty member and graduate faculty member of the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department at Auburn University.

Photo of Eve Brantley from Auburn.Eve Brantley
Auburn University Water Resources Center

Eve Brantley is a Professor at Auburn University, College of Agriculture, Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences. She serves as the Director of the Auburn University Water Resources Center and Alabama Cooperative Extension System Water Resources Specialist. Dr. Brantley has worked on watershed planning and implementation that includes programming and research in stream restoration, stormwater management, and education at the watershed, river basin, and regional scales. Current initiatives in her program include planning for sustainable expansion of irrigation, development of a private well water program, and community watershed stewardship. Eve received a B.S. from Berry College, an M.S. from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences at Auburn University.

Photo of Joel Brown from NRCS.Joel Brown
USDA-NRCS, National Soil Survey Center

Joel Brown is a rangeland ecologist at the Jornada Experimental Range. He is currently the Leader of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) National Ecological Site Team. His professional interests include land description and classification systems, carbon sequestration on rangelands, and grazing land ecology. His professional experience includes 5 years as an NRCS Field and Area Range Conservationist in Kansas, 5 years as California NRCS State Rangeland Specialist, 5 years as CSIRO (Australia) Project Leader and Senior Principal Research Scientist, 5 years as NRCS Global Change Leader. His formal education includes a B.S. in Agriculture from Fort Hays State University (KS), a M.S. in Grazing Ecology from Texas A&M University, and a Ph.D. in Shrubland Ecology from Texas A&M University. He is the 2019 Society for Range Management Frederic Renner Award recipient.

Photo of Larry Laing from USFS.Larry Laing
USDA-Forest Service

Larry Laing currently serves as the Landscape Ecology Program Leader for USDA Forest Service (FS) in Washington D.C. Prior to that, he was the FS National Soils Program Leader for 4 years. Earlier in his career, after gaining experience with the Soil Conservation Service in Ohio and Idaho, Larry worked on several National Forests in Washington and Montana. He applied soil science and ecological mapping to forest planning and management and also enjoyed the opportunity to supervise the Arizona Terrestrial Ecosystem Survey for the FS Southwest Region. Later he was appointed the Soils Program Leader for the FS Eastern Regional Office in Milwaukee. Before coming to the FS Washington Office, he served as the Natural and Cultural Resources Program Manager for the Southern Arizona Office of the National Park Service. Larry is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist.