This summer, Donald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Delaware and director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN), will receive the Liebig Award from the International Union of Soil Sciences for outstanding contributions in soil science research, revealing new discoveries, techniques, inventions, or materials related to soils and the environment.
The award, which consists of an engraved medal, a certificate, and honorarium, will be presented to Sparks on Aug. 5 at the 19th World Congress of Soil Science in Brisbane, Australia. It will mark only the second time the award has been given by the 150,000-member society, which was founded in 1924.
"This is thoroughly deserved and recognizes the very substantial and outstanding contributions you have made to the advancement of soil science and, in particular, the application of sound science to the study of soils throughout your career," noted Roger S. Swift, president of the International Union of Soil Sciences, in the official award letter.
Sparks' research focuses on soil and environmental chemistry -- specifically the reaction rates of metals and nutrients with mineral surfaces and soils and impacts on bioavailability and transport in soils and water.
The Sparks lab utilizes high-tech tools to reveal the basic mechanisms behind these interactions. Recently, Sparks and his research team developed a new analytical method using quick-scanning X-ray absorption spectroscopy (Q-XAS) that scientists can use to pinpoint, at the millisecond level, what happens as harmful environmental contaminants such as arsenic begin to react with soil and water under various conditions.
"I am very honored to be recognized with the Liebig Medal because it is an award for which you must be nominated by your peers and also because of its distinguished namesake," Sparks says.
Justus von Liebig, after whom the award is named, was
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University of Delaware