Professors Kate Scow and Dan Sperling Honored for Outstanding Contributions

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  • Two professors from the University of California, Davis, have been elected as members of the National Academy of Engineering. Professors Kate Scow and Daniel Sperling join 13 other current UC Davis faculty members who are in the academy.

By Kat Kerlin

Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Members are selected for having made outstanding contributions to the field of engineering, including research, practice or education, as well as to pioneering new and developing fields of technology, or innovative approaches to engineering education.

Kate Scow is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of soil microbial ecology in the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources. The academy honored her for “elucidating the role of soil microbial communities in polluted ecosystems and their responses to agricultural management practices,” according to an NAE statement.

Her research investigates relationships between indigenous soil microbial communities and critical ecosystem processes such as biogeochemical cycling and biodegradation. It has been applied in low-cost approaches that promote biologically based solutions for clean-up of contaminated groundwater and for soil carbon sequestration. For the past decade, she has collaborated with partners in Uganda and Kenya in participatory research on small-scale irrigation, soil health and integrated soil management.

Scow chairs the UC Davis International Agricultural Development graduate group and was director of the Russell Ranch Sustainable Agriculture Facility, a long-term experiment investigating relationships between farm management, below-ground biodiversity and sustainability of row crop agroecosystems. Previously, she was director of the Kearney Foundation of Soil Science during the mission “Soil Carbon and California Terrestrial Ecosystems.”

Scow received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Antioch College and her master’s and doctoral degrees in soil science from Cornell University.

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