Uncle Rod O’Brien
Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation

Mickey Kumatpi Marrutya O’Brien
Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation

Robert McGowan JP
Department of Conservation (DOC)

Dr Abad Chabbi
French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)

Rod identifies as a Kaurna man and devotes much time to helping other Kaurna people identify with the language and culture. He is an active member of the Adelaide Aboriginal community, volunteering his time as a Board member on a number of committees which include the Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation, Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation and Kura Yerlo Inc.

Rod has an Honors and Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science in Aboriginal Community Development and Management from Curtin University.

Prior to joining Wirltu Yarlu in 2017as a Cultural Advisor, he worked in the State Government for over 23 years in the Department for Child Protection.

Rod is passionate about reclaiming Kaurna language, and hopes to see Kaurna language and culture being in taught in every school in the Adelaide Plains region.

“My dream is for the Kaurna language to be revived to a level where there are hundreds of people able to converse in it with meaningful dialogue on a daily basis. For I believe, if it is spoken, people will gain strength, knowledge and power from us, thus keeping alive Kaurna culture.”

Uncle Rod will be giving the Welcome to Country Address during the opening session.

I am a Senior Aboriginal Man.  I am a descendant of the Kaurna (Adelaide Plains) and Narrunga (York Peninsula) peoples.

I have been, sharing cultural engagement for a number of years. It is a role handed to me by my Father, Uncle Lewis Yerla Burka O’Brien. It is a position, I honour and respect greatly.

I am a Foster Parent of seventeen years, to three beautiful children.  I have travelled all across Australia, living and working in a number of Aboriginal Communities, delivering programs and benefits.  I enjoy the opportunity to support the Aboriginal Community, sitting on boards and Advisory Panels.

I am a recipient of the Rotary Club Courtesy Award, for Community involvement working with youth. I am also an Australia Day Service Award recipient, for my work as a volunteer on advisory groups. I enjoy sharing Cultural Knowledge and providing Welcome to Country, with people, not at people.

My Father has told me “Aboriginal people have always welcomed people to this country, we just never told them to go home”

Rob McGowan currently works for the Department of Conservation (DOC) and is the Amo Aratu for Nga Whenua Rahui (NWR), a contestable Ministerial fund established in 1991 to provide funding for the protection of indigenous ecosystems on Māori land.  Rob is one of the foremost authorities on rongoā Māori (traditional Māori medicine) and is well respected nationally for his work with and for the restoration of rongoā Māori practice in New Zealand.

Dr. Abad CHABBI, is a plant ecologist and soil biogeochemist. He worked at the Louisiana State University, USA; the Faculty of Environmental Science in Cottbus, Germany; the University of Pierre & Marie, Curie (UPMC), France; and the INRA research council where he has been leading the National Observatory for Environmental Research-Agro-Ecosystems, Biogechemical Cycles and Biodiversity since 2009. Abad Chabbi is currently Director of Research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and his research centers on the linkage between soil carbon sequestration, nutrient availability and stoichiometry in the plant-soil system and their relations to land use management and climate change. He is also working with strategic Research Infrastructures and interested in science policy and societal challenges. Throughout his career, Abad Chabbi has focused on coordinating international and multidisciplinary projects, including ExpeER and AnaEE under the strategic European Commission framework. He also chairs a Working Group at the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, at the Hercules Foundation for Investments in Research and Innovation”, Brussels… and provides expertise to the German Research Science Foundation, the European Commission’s Direction of Research and Innovation as well as the Chinese Academy of Science, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the American National Science Foundation and the Academy of Finland Grant Review. 

Presentation: Soil capital- our last rampart to address climate change, food security & reaping societal challenges


Jeff Baldock
CSIRO, Adelaide, Australia

Professor Francesca Cotrufo
Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University

Professor Ingrid Kögel-Knabner
Technical University of Munich TUM

Dr Joshua Schimel
UC Santa Barbara

Jeff Baldock is a soil scientist working in CSIRO at Adelaide, Australia.  His research has focussed on measuring the amount and composition of organic matter in soils and other terrestrial (native and plantation forests) and aquatic environments (coastal and open ocean).  He has also worked on quantifying the beneficial role of organic matter on soil properties contributing to enhancing plant/crop productivity.  Jeff has led and leads research projects aimed at defining the influence of agricultural management practices on the stocks and composition of organic carbon in soils, peats and sediments and how this impacts productivity.  He has examined the availability of nitrogen within agricultural systems and developed a calculator for predicting the amount of fertiliser N required to achieve targeted grain production outcomes.  He has contributed to the development the soil carbon modelling component of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory and soil carbon methods included in Australia’s Emissions Reduction Fund.  Jeff is also working on enhancing the use of various forms of spectroscopy to provide rapid and cost effective soil measurement capabilities and how to integrate the data derived into predictive models and decision support systems.

Presentation: Characterising the diverse nature of soil organic matter

Francesca Cotrufo is Professor and Associate Head at the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Senior Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, at Colorado State University.  She earned B.Sc. from the University of Naples, Italy and Ph.D. from Lancaster University, UK. Dr. Cotrufo is internationally recognized for her work on litter decomposition and soil organic matter formation, and for the creative use of isotopic methodologies in these studies. More recently her team developed an integrated measurement-modelling approach to further improve the understanding of the mechanisms and drivers of formation and persistence of soil organic matter, and better predict soil organic matter changes in response to global environmental changes, disturbances, and management practices. Her overall goal is to contribute to the design and development of a research and decision support approach to facilitate soil health improvements and climate change mitigation and adaptation. She is subject editor of the journal Global Change Biology. To date she has published over 100 peer reviewed articles and several book chapters.

Presentation: Improving understanding and forecasting of Soil Organic Matter dynamics to transform challenges into opportunities

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner studied geoecology at the University of Bayreuth, where she also obtained a doctorate in soil science (1987) and habilitation (1992). In 1991 she received a professorship for soil science and soil ecology at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Since 1995 she serves at the Chair of soil science of the Technical University of Munich TUM. Since 2011 she is Carl von Linde Senior Fellow at TUM Institute of Advanced Study. She is member of the Editorial Board of several high-impact soil science journals. Since 2015, she has been on the list of “Highly Cited Researchers”, belonging to the most cited scientists in the world.

Ingrid Kögel-Knabner’s work is dedicated to understanding the formation and properties of soil organic matter as a major component of soils, and its central role in the terrestrial carbon cycle. Her work focusses specifically on soil structure and the biogeochemical soil interface formed by the interaction of organic matter with the soil mineral phase. The challenge to be coped with is the transition of methods which have been designed and developed for pure systems to the extremely complex, often amorphous natural materials found in soils. By applying a spectrum of sophisticated techniques (solid-state 13C NMR spectroscopy, chemolytic methods with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, stable isotopes, radiocarbon dating, scanning electron microscopy SEM, NanoSIMS) the elucidation of soil organic matter structure, interactions and turnover can be brought a step forward.

Presentation: Mineral surface area and organic matter accrual

Dr. Joshua Schimel is a Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara. His research has focused on the intersection of microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, with emphases on N-dynamics in Arctic soils, and on the role of drought on soil organic matter dynamics, focusing on Mediterranean-climate ecosystems in California. This work has emphasized the linkages among soil mineralogy, organic matter chemistry, and soil microbial dynamics to understand how the physical, chemical, and biological components of soil interact. He is an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a Fellow in the Ecological Society of America and is a Chief Editor for Soil Biology & Biochemistry. 

Presentation: Linking microscale processes with the macro world: Microbes, molecules, and moisture through the soil profile


Dr Matt Aitkenhead
The James Hutton Institute

Professor Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Life and Environmental Sciences Unit, University of California

Marie Spohn
University of Bayreuth

Professor Franciska de Vries
University of Amsterdam

Soil monitoring and mapping can be achieved through a number of approaches. My work focusses on optimising sensing approaches (remote sensing, soil spectroscopy) and developing new methods (soil profile image analysis). The integration of sensory data with existing, legacy survey data allows us to carry out improved mapping of soil properties. Much of my work in this area focusses on soil carbon, particularly in organic soils, in terms of primary soil health properties (carbon, texture, bulk density, pH).

Presentation: Monitoring and mapping Scotland’s peat soils: legacy and development

Prof. Berhe is an Associate Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry at the Life and Environmental Sciences unit, University of California, Merced. Prof. Berhe received her Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley; M. Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and B. Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from University of Asmara, Eritrea. Dr. Berhe was a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California, Berkeley and University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on biogeochemical cycling of essential elements (esp. carbon and nitrogen), in particular in systems that experience physical perturbations (ex. erosion, fire, changes in climate). Prof. Berhe is a recipient of several awards including the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, the Young Investigator Award from Sigma Xi, and the Hellman Family Foundations award for early career faculty. Prof. Berhe currently serves: as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; in the Leadership board of the Earth Science Women’s Network; and as Associate Editor for the scholarly journals Biogeochemistry and SOIL. 

Presentation: Lateral transport of SOM through landscapes

Marie Spohn is a scientist at the Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research at the University of Bayreuth. She leads the group Soil Biogeochemistry, which is funded by the German Research Foundation through the Emmy Noether Programme. Together with her group, she studies how the cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus are interrelated in soils. For this purpose, she uses a large range of methods including soil chemical methods, stable and non-stable isotopes as well as microbiological tools. Dr. Spohn studied biology and earned her PhD from the University of Oldenburg in 2011. After a two-year postdoc at the University of Göttingen, she worked as an assistant professor at the University of Bayreuth before starting her own group in 2016. Dr. Spohn has contributed to a better understanding of the cycles of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus and their interrelatedness in soils.

Presentation: Interactions of organic carbon and phosphorus dynamics in soils

Franciska de Vries is Professor of Earth Surface Science at the University of Amsterdam. Franciska did her PhD in Wageningen, the Netherlands, and then spent 10 years in the UK at Lancaster University and The University of Manchester, before she returned to her home country for a full professorship at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in 2019. Her research focusses on the effects of global change on soil organisms and their functioning, and in particular how interactions with plants modify these responses. She is interested in global patterns as well as in disentangling small-scale mechanisms, and uses experimental and observational studies on global and regional scales, field and field-based mesocosm experiments, and pot experiments under controlled conditions. A major aim in her work is to understand the properties that determine ecosystem response to change, and using those for predicting, and managing, future ecosystem functioning. Franciska set up the special interest group Plants-Soils-Ecosystems of the British Ecological Society, and is on the editorial boards of Ecosystems and Journal of Ecology.

Presentation title: Soil C cycling in a changing world: the role of root-microbe interactions

A/Professor Brian Wilson
University of New England, Australia

Dr Lynne Macdonald
CSIRO Agriculture & Food, Adelaide, Australia

Professor Budiman Minasny
University of Sydney, Australia

Professor Dr Ellis Hoffland
Wageningen University and Research

Associate Professor Brian Wilson completed his PhD in Soil Science at the University of Reading in the UK. He held positions as an academic in the UK and, following a move to Australia in 1999, has worked as a Research Scientist with New South Wales (NSW) State Government and more recently as an academic at University of New England (UNE).  His research has focused principally on soil organic matter quantity, distribution and dynamics across a range of land-uses, especially native vegetation systems, in Europe, Australia and the sub-Antarctic, utilising a variety of elemental, stable- and radio-isotope techniques. He leads the Terrestrial Carbon Research Group at UNE which has examined a range of processes and mechanisms of soil organic matter storage and movement in the soil profile in response to land use and management pressures in the climate-stressed, NSW environment. Current work within the group focuses on the addition and stabilisation of carbon through the whole soil profile from plant/root contributions and dissolved organic carbon combined with soil organic matter cycling and change in Australian alpine and island environments. A/Prof Wilson continues a close research collaboration with the NSW State Government focusing on key Statewide research and policy needs relating to soils and the development of strategic research initiatives.

Presentation: SOM through the soil profile in a climate-stressed environment

Dr Lynne Macdonald, a senior research scientist with CSIRO Agriculture & Food (Adelaide Australia. Integrating methods of spectroscopic characterisation with process level biogeochemistry, her research interests lie in understanding and managing organic matter to support soil function in agro-ecosystems. Playing a key role in several of Australia’s National Research programs, her research has contributed to improved understanding of the potential of biochar and organic amendments in overcoming soil constraints, and in quantifying management impacts on soil carbon fractions.

Presentation: Recycled Organic Amendments: Targeting use towards underlying soil constraints

Budiman Minasny is a professor in Soil-Landscape Modelling at the University of Sydney. His research and contribution to the discipline of soil science have been on discovering the causes and controls of soil distribution over space and time. This knowledge is crucial for soil security which is central to managing climate change, food, water, energy security and maintaining biodiversity. He works on theoretical and physical models to explain soil-formation processes and to understand why soil varies so much in the landscape. He also employs empirical approaches to gain insight from soil data and unravel the complexity of soil variation in the real world. His interest in soil organic matter research is on assessing and monitoring soil carbon stocks effectively. Better land management that can maximise the soil carbon sink and continuously improve productivity will help alleviate many land degradation processes.

Presentation: C sequestration – the opportunity, costs and trade-offs

Ellis Hoffland is from the Soil Biology Group of Wageningen University, The Netherlands. The keyword describing her research is “soil fertility” in a broader sense. She regards soil fertility as the result of biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nutrient elements. Her motivation to study these cycles is their relevance to primary production. Being a biologist by training, her natural bias is towards the biological aspects of these cycles and, more specifically, of soil-plant interactions. She often cooperates with soil chemists because she is convinced that integration of chemical and biological information provides unique opportunities to elucidate feedbacks that are operating in complex environmental systems such as the soil. Ellis has been leading a wide diversity of research projects related to soil organic matter, including effects of mixed cropping on C sequestration and soil fertility, dissolved organic matter as a predictor for SOM mineralisation or as an indicator for disease suppression, biochar, bacterial/fungal ratio effects and cycles of nitrogen, and root exudate to increase micronutrient availability to crops.

Presentation: Biofunctionality of soil organic matter

Professor Dr Johanna Pausch
University of Bayreuth

Carlos A. Sierra
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena

Dr. Jennifer L. Soong, PhD
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Associate Professor Kerrylee Rogers
University of Wollongong (UOW)

Johanna Pausch is a junior professor for Agroecology at the University of Bayreuth and a member of the Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research. After she earned a diploma in Geoecology (2009) and a Ph.D. in Agroecosystem Research (2012), she worked as an academic assistant at the Department of Soil Science at the Georg-August University of Goettingen. Since 2017, she is leading the Agroecology group at Bayreuth.

Her research concentrates on interactions between plants, soils and microorganisms in agricultural ecosystems with special emphasis on biogeochemical processes in the rhizosphere. Her focus is on the fate of rhizodeposits and their effects on carbon and nutrient fluxes in soils. To study rhizosphere functioning, the group is applying stable and radioactive isotopes under controlled and under field conditions. Using these innovative analytical tools, Dr. Pausch is working on the crucial role of microorganisms in processing C derived from living roots in the context of C sequestration and nutrient dynamics.

Presentation: Linking aboveground processes and SOM cycling in the rhizosphere

Carlos A. Sierra is a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany, where he leads a group on Theoretical Ecosystem Ecology. The group, funded by the German Research Foundation through the Emmy Noether Programme, focuses its research on the mathematical understanding of the global carbon cycle, particularly on the time-scales of carbon storage and how global change modifies process rates in the terrestrial biosphere. He obtained his PhD degree from Oregon State University, studying in his dissertation theoretical aspects of terrestrial biogeochemical models. Dr. Sierra has made contributions to the theory of soil organic matter dynamics by proposing mathematical generalizations of models with their main ecological principles. He is active in the development of software for the analysis of ecosystem properties. In addition, he has contributed to the development of the theory of time scales of biogeochemical cycling by developing mathematical tools for the estimation of ages and transit times of elements in ecosystems.

Presentation: Generalizing soil organic matter models for understanding overall system properties

Jennifer Soong is a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. She earned her PhD in Ecology from Colorado State University and her B.A. from Oberlin College. Dr. Soong’s research focuses on biogeochemistry and ecosystem ecology with an emphasis on how terrestrial ecosystems function under natural and human-influenced environmental conditions. She conducts observational and experimental studies in field and laboratory across a broad range of ecosystem types, using techniques such as stable isotope probing, molecular techniques and modeling to quantify how organic and inorganic materials are transported and transformed as they move through plant-soil-microbial-atmospheric interfaces. Dr. Soong works closely with modelers to scale new mechanistic insights to ecosystem and global scales and help improve predictions of future ecosystem functioning.

Presentation: SOM dynamics in fire prone landscapes 

Associate Professor Kerrylee Rogers is a coastal ecogeomorphologist and recent ARC Future Fellow in the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Life Sciences at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Between 2005, when she graduated with PhD from UOW, and 2012 she was appointed as an environmental scientist with the New South Wales Government, before returning as a research associate at UOW in 2012. Her research has largely focused on the response of coastal ecosystems and landscapes to climate change. Particular attention is placed on the role of sea level in shaping coastal ecosystems, with substrate organic matter addition being a critical process that provides dual benefits of facilitating adaptation to sea-level rise, and contributing towards carbon storage and climate change mitigation. She is an active researcher, regarded as a national and emerging global leader in coastal ecosystem research, which is exemplified by her recent work published in Nature demonstrating that coastal wetland carbon storage is related to millennial scale variation in sea level, and that carbon storage may be enhanced should sea-level rise accelerate as projected. In addition to her research, Kerrylee Rogers is a lead co-ordinator for an Asia-Pacific Regional Cooperation Agreement (RCA) project with the International Atomic Energy Agency focussed on building country capacity in the application of radiometric and isotopic techniques for assessing the vulnerability of coasts to sea-level rise. Kerrylee Rogers also co-ordinates the Bachelor of Environmental Science (Honours) degree, teaches geomorphology and project management in environmental science, and shares her passion for coastal sustainability with her husband and two sons.

Presentation: Wetland blue carbon storage controlled by millennial scale variation in sea-level rise and soil organic matter is influenced by sea level variations

Professor Louis Schipper
University of Waikato

Dr Isabelle Basile-Doelsch
Research Director, Inra

Louis Schipper is a Professor at the University of Waikato investigating soil biogeochemical processes at landscape scales and how they might be manipulated to achieve improved environmental performance. He has led teams determining changes in carbon stocks of pasture soils at paddock to national scales. They have provided data and understanding that has been central to developing a national picture of New Zealand’s carbon budget. They have tested simple soil sampling strategies and eddy covariance approaches to quantify changes in soil carbon stocks associated with landuse change and different management practices. He also has helped develop new theories of temperature dependence of biological processes with a specific focus on soil respiration, scaling from enzymes to ecosystems and the globe. Louis is a principal investigator for the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre and elected fellow of the New Zealand and American soil science societies.

Presentation: Quantifying changes in soil carbon stocks of grazed pastures: identifying gains and avoiding losses

Dr I. Basile-Doelsch. MSc in Geology (ENSG, Nancy, France), PhD in Geochemistry for paleoclimatic reconstructions (Vostok ice core, Antarctica), Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches in geochemistry of soils and weathering systems in the critical zone. She is specialized in organomineral interactions in soils. She has been an Aix-Marseille University lecturer since 1998 (France), and a junior member of the prestigious “Institut Universitaire de France” from 2011 to April 2015. As of May 2015, she became a Director of Research at the French INRA institute(CEREGE). She recently spent one year as a visiting scientist in Jeff’s Baldock group at CSIRO Adelaide.

Google Scholar Articles

Presentation: Organomineral interactions: Zoom at nanoscale using EXAFS and MET-EELS

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