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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, and Dr. Joshua Schimel in 2019. 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 30, 2021.


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

To apply, use this link: and fill out all required fields in the submission form, including:

   ** The “Describe your need for financial assistance” field must include

            – Your accepted abstract text and abstract #

            – A one-paragraph statement of the impact of the presented work to Soil Ecology (beyond the    abstract content, note the knowledge advancement of your research in general, and any broader educational or societal impacts that you have made in association with the research)

   ** “Supporting Statement / Recommendation” from your PI or supervisor should be brief: Please simply confirm that the student will prepare a presentation for the ESA 2020 Virtual Meeting on the topic detailed in the accepted Abstract.

Priority deadline is April 30, 2021. Applications will be accepted after this date.

We anticipate 10 awards.