Headshot of Dr. Jo Handelsman in a greenhouse wearing a bright blue blazer, smiling

Nordin Lecture | A World Without Soil: From the White House to Wisconsin

Event Details

Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Goodell Hall

140 Hicks Way

Amherst, MA 01003



David Gross, Professor Emeritus

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


This event is on UMASS campus

This event is handicap accessible

Abstract: Soil is a precious natural resource that is disappearing rapidly. Soil erosion threatens our supply of food, clean water, and life-saving drugs. The knowledge necessary to halt soil erosion is in hand—we just need the will to apply it broadly. In this talk I will discuss the nature of soil and how I have worked on policy to save it as a science advisor to President Obama and from academia.

About The Speaker: Dr. Jo Handelsman is the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Vilas Research Professor, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor.  She previously served as a science advisor to President Barack Obama as the Associate Director for Science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) where she served for three years until January 2017, and was on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin and Yale University before that. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Molecular Biology and is responsible for groundbreaking studies in microbial communication and work in the field of metagenomics. She is also widely recognized for her contributions to science education and diversity in science. Notably, she received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Obama in 2011, and in 2012, Nature named her one of “ten people who mattered this year” for her research on gender bias in science. In 2019, Dr. Handelsman was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.