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Summer Research Scholarship digs the good dirt on soil

14 August 2014

Summer Research Scholarship digs the good dirt on soil

Dr Megan Balks loves soil. She loves it so much, the University of Waikato Earth and Ocean Sciences Senior Lecturer is co-authoring a book about soil with Professor Darlene Zabowski from the University of Washington, Seattle.

“We wanted to say something positive about soil as we are critically dependent on it,” Dr Balks says. “Our food is derived from soil and we’re feeding more people than ever before. There are a lot of great things happening with soil, but we tend to only hear about the negative.”

The book “Celebrating Soils in the Landscape” will highlight the diversity, importance and intrinsic beauty of soils around the world, and explain how soils are related to the landscapes in which they form and the life they support.

The book will cover all types of soil; volcanic, coastal, river flood plains, forest, grassland and soil from extreme environments. It will also look at managing and caring for soil, contaminants and soil erosion.

With more than 30 years of experience in soil-related study, research and teaching, Dr Balk’s soil studies include 18 trips to Antarctica, the Arctic (Russia, Norway and Alaska), Australia, Thailand, Peru, China, Samoa and Europe.

Dr Balks has secured a 10-week Waikato University Summer Research Scholarship, which runs from November 2014 until February 2015, for a student to work drafting diagrams for the book.

Students can now apply to be part of the University of Waikato Summer Research projects. Applications close on 31 August 2014. The programme is open to students enrolled at a New Zealand or Australian university, and gives promising final year undergraduate, honours year and first-year masters degree students the chance to experience the challenges and rewards of research, working alongside senior University of Waikato academics.

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