Department of Plant Sciences & Landscape Architecture
Dr. Cristian Schulthess, in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, specializes on soil chemical processes, such as the retention of aqueous organic and inorganic compounds by the soil’s minerals. He is interested in the mobility and fate of nutrients and contaminants in soil environments is controlled to a large extent by their affinity to the solid immobile phase relative to their affinity to the liquid (and vapor) mobile phase. His research concentrates on the physical chemical behavior of compounds at the solid-liquid and solid-vapor interface. He is currently investigating (1) the effect of nanopores (small pores inside each individual mineral particle) on the entrapment of organic and inorganic compounds; (2) the enhancement effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the adsorption of anions by soil constituents; (3) the adsorption and desorption of CO2 on oxides, and its effect on proton adsorption; (4) the effect of temperature and pressure on the volatility of adsorbed organic compounds; (5) the validity of current methods for the determination of proton adsorption isotherms, with particular emphasis on the impact of background electrolytes; and (6) the competitive adsorption behavior of anions (such as SO 4 and SeO4) and organic compounds on oxide surfaces.
Dr. Schulthess traveled to Cuba in June 2016, and met with several research scientists at the Instituto Ciencia Animal (ICA), and met with Dr. Gustavo J. Crespo Lopez and Dr. Sandra Lok, and discussed the NPK soil fertility status of soils and the translocation of nutrients up the food chain (soils to grasses to animals to consumption). Dr. Lok invited Dr. Schulthess to be an Associate Editor in the Review of English language articles in the Cuban Journal. During this visit, Dr. Schulthess also met with research scientists at the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agricolas (INCA), which has a larger soils research team. Since most of INCA’s team specializes in soil fertility rather than soil chemical processes, they were very interested in complementary collaborations with Dr. Schulthess to fill gaps in their research efforts. INCA discussed 12 new research activities with Dr. Schulthess, such as looking at the mobility K in soils and its role in food production. Dr. Schulthess also met with a few researchers at Centro National de Sanidad Agropecuaria (CENSA).
All three groups–INCA, ICA and CENSA–noted interest in having Dr. Schulthess give an intensive 5-day course (of about 6 hours each day) in December 2016, on his specialty. ICA and INCA where both eager to help Dr. Schulthess construct an environmental soil science course for up to 30 students in May 2017, consisting of a tour of the four main regions of Cuba, with emphasis on the biogeophysical influences of the environment and landscape on the cultural, dialects, and historical differences found in these four regions. Efforts are underway to construct this course for 2018.
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