The annual Soil Science Society of America meeting is always a great time to learn about the hot topics in soil science but also to meet with colleagues and discuss the future of the field. This was my second SSSA meeting in Tampa, and had a different feel. The first meeting back in 2013, I was a young scrappy graduate student, just completing my third study and figuring out the next set of questions to pursue. This time around, I am was a young scrappy soon-to-be professor, figuring out where the field of soils science is going. I am happy to report that there are dozens of great questions and topics soil scientists are taking the field, from nutritional security of nutrients in our diets to national security, ensuring America has soil-derived resources into the future.
Tampa is a city that reminds me much of where I grew up in Southern California. Urban sprawl as far as the eye can see. I even found a California style taco and burrito shop and order my go-to favorites, the California Burrito. The weather was tropical the first few days but fortunately cooled down. I was lucky to meet up with many current and past UC Riverside soil scientists, Dr. Robert Graham, Dr. Samantha Ying, Dr. Daniel Hirmas, Dr. Judith Turk, and many more. Later that meeting, I ran into more UC Riverside scientists, Dr. Angelia Seyfferth and Dr.
Rebecca Lybrand. It is a very wonderful and humbling feeling to know that I have an extended soils family across the United States!
This meeting, I presented some of my Critical Zone science. First, I gave a talk on some of my mineral synthesis experiments with Dr. Louis Derry. This is a work in progress as additional experiments are needed to show if Gallium was truly incorporated into Al and Fe oxides. X-ray diffraction patterns did not show significant changes in peaks for the synthesized Al and Fe oxides. Second, I presented a poster on some soil mercury work, looking at the role of redoximorphic features on Hg sequestration at Calhoun CZO. Unfortunately, someone squashed my poster during transit at the Tampa airport (not me!) and it came out with an unusual wave texture to it. I received some great feedback and interest on the data. Most importantly, I believe I have met some students interested in building upon this work for a masters degree. I am eager and excited to get the Soil Biogeochemistry lab up and running at UMass Amherst!