Media Release

Soil scholarship winners soak up world congress experience

SSA publishes basic and applied soil research focused on the Australian context



Soil scientists from Australia have enjoyed tremendous success at the 21st World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil last week.                   
From students just starting out in the profession to well-respected and established researchers and teachers, members of the Soil Science Australia1ommunity were applauded for their knowledge, experience and great commitment to the industry.          

The Australian Soil Judging team finished fifth after a fiercely contested competition only just missing out of the top positions and placing ahead of Mexico, Brazil, Taiwan, Korea, South Africa and Great Britain.


Team members included Karin Azzam, University of Sydney, Bethany Sleep, University of Adelaide, and Stirling Roberton, University of Southern Queensland.


Karin Azzam demonstrated exceptional talent and understanding throughout the competition earning her a third ranking in the world for soil judging.


Jim Payne, Brisbane, Erinne Stirling, Adelaide, and Olivia Cousins, Adelaide, presented their latest research to large and enthusiastic audiences. Jim and Erinne won highly competitive Soil Science Australia scholarships, while Olivia won an equally competed scholarship from the International Union of Soil Science, to support their travel and participation costs.


Erinne also accepted the JeJu award on behalf of Soil Science Australia’s Federal President, John McLean Bennett CPSS. John was congerred the highest honour for a mid-career researcher by the International Union for Soil Science and the Korean Society of Soil Science and Fertilizer for innovative and outstanding accomplishments in education, research, and extension in soil sciences and his substantial contribution to IUSS missions.


“We knew we had a strong, well-prepared contingent of Australian soil scientists attending the congress with representation across all levels of experience and a great depth of specialist knowledge on show,” said Associate Professor Bennett.


“However, until you actually arrive and take part at these big conferences, it’s hard to gauge just how well your research will be received or the calibre of the soil judging competition.


“I am incredibly proud of all that we achieved during the congress and the new opportunities for further collaboration that have resulted from our presence. It bodes very well for the future of soil science in Australia and the areas such as agriculture, the environment and engineering who benefit directly from our expertise, and is a testament to our existing soil science capacity and capability.”


Soil Science Australia is the peak non-government body for soils and soil scientists. The Association supports students and early career researchers and practitioners through a range of initiatives including financial support to attend key conferences such as the WCSS.


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