Francesca Cotrufo1

1Department of Soil and Crop Sciences & natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA


Soil organic matter (SOM) is at the nexus of the most wicked challenges facing humanity, from mitigating climate change to assuring sustainable food, fiber and bioenergy production to a growing population. It is our role to quantify and characterize it, understand mechanisms and drivers of its formation, transformation and mineralization, and use this understanding to forecast its vulnerability to changes and disturbances as well as its capacity to regenerate. This is our ambition at Colorado State University and to achieve it we recently developed a fully integrated measurement-modeling approach to use for research as well as in decision support tools. We will report on how our most recent work using this approach across the European continent and on future developments.


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.

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