We strive to understand the structure and the function of the surface of our earth through research of five disciplinary areas.

Soil Biology

Organisms living in the soil are critical to maintaining soil quality, ecosystem function, and soil structure. In turn, we study organisms that help prevent soil erosion, maintain water availability, and aid decomposition and nutrient cycling.

Faculty studying soil biology:

Peter Bottomley
Jennifer Parke
David Myrold

Soil Chemistry

We study the chemical composition, chemical properties, and chemical reactions that occur in soils, or that are related to environmental issues and soil quality.

Faculty studying soil chemistry:

Markus Kleber
Julie Pett-Ridge

Soil Physics

Understanding the physical properties of soils is important to proper soil and agronomic management, as well as water quality and climate change. We seek to understand the transport of energy, water, solutes, and gases throughout soil structures.

Faculty studying soil physics:

Maria Dragila
Rich Roseberg
Don Wysocki


Pedology, the study of soils in their natural environment, is important to understanding topics such as evolutionary pathways of ecosystems and how humans have historically interacted with soils. We study and inventory soil landscapes by survey and other methods.

Faculty studying pedology:

Jay Noller
Rebecca Lybrand
Julie Pett-Ridge


Soil Fertility

Our work in improving the fertility and quality of soils in a sustainable way is essential for continuing to grow healthy plants and crops in Oregon and beyond.

Faculty studying soil fertility:

Dan Sullivan
Amber Moore

Learn More

For students interested in studying soils, we offer an undergraduate degree with an option in soil science and a graduate program in soil science. Or discover why you should consider studying soils.