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Neher Head Shot

Dr. Deb Neher, honoree of the section’s Career Award, and first recipient of the award in 2015.

The Deborah A. Neher Career Award honors someone who has made significant contributions to the field of soil ecology. It is named in honor of Deb Neher, the first Chair of the section and the first recipient of the award. Dr. Neher helped establish the Soil Ecology section in 1993. At that time, ESA was mostly known for theoretical and basic work, and seemed to have little representation or appreciation for applied ecology. Plant ecologists viewed soil as a ‘black box’ and soil ecology papers were not widely published in the ESA journals. The section was established to provide a place at ESA for soil ecologists, but also to educate other ecologists about soil. Throughout her career, Dr. Neher has worked to foster education about soil ecology, forging linkages with ESA and other professional societies, hosting symposia and business meetings, and representing soil ecologists on various governing and advisory boards. For her decades of service, the Soil Ecology section enthusiastically established this award in her honor, and named her the first recipient of the award in 2015. Dr. Peter Groffman was the distinguished scientist awarded in 2016, Dr. Jayne Belnap in 2017,  Dr. Nancy Collins Johnson in 2018, Dr. Joshua Schimel in 2019, Dr. Gail Wilson in 2020, and Dr. Serita Frey in 2021. This award is given to someone who has made significant contributions to the field of Soil Ecology over the course of their career.

*Please note, the requirement of service in the Soil Ecology Section has been eliminated, to increase the pool of nominees.

Award nominations should include one letter of support, that may include multiple signatories, and may be sent to Stephanie Kivlin ( by June 1, 2022.


Student Travel Awards are offered to cover registration and travel for the annual ESA meeting.

Preliminary information about the 2022 Student Travel Awards can be seen here:

An application link will be available soon, and applications will be due on June 1, 2022.

We anticipate 4 awards of $400 each.


  • Student member of the section at the time of application
  • Presenting talk or poster at the meeting, or have submitted at the time of application
  • Application Requires: All required fields, statement of need, abstract, statement of support or recommendation from advisor