January 4, 2017
K-State professor becomes first American woman elected honorary member of the International Union of Soil Sciences
Mary Beth Kirkham, professor of agronomy, was elected honorary member of the International Union of Soil Sciences at its Inter-Congress Meeting in November 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Union of Soil Sciences, founded in 1924, has 86 member national and regional societies, with about 55,000 scientists in 57 countries. Every four years, the union hosts the World Congress of Soil Science. The Inter-Congress Meeting takes place two years before a Congress to plan the Congress.
The Council of the International Union of Soil Sciences, which includes a representative from each member country, gathers at the Inter-Congress meeting to elect the honorary members. According to the union's statutes, honorary members must be scientists of great distinction in soil science and have made substantial contributions to the union.
Elections took place among the council members at the Inter-Congress Meeting Nov. 24, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro. Thirteen new honorary members were elected, including Kirkham. Between 1924 and 2012, 16 people from the U.S. have been elected honorary members. Kirkham was the only person from the U.S. elected honorary member in 2016 and the first American woman to be elected. She was one of the first two women to be elected, the other being Maria Gerasimova of Russia, who also was elected in 2016.
Nominees for honorary members from the U.S. are selected by the U.S. National Committee for Soil Sciences, a committee of the National Research Council that represents the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. soil scientists to the International Union of Soil Science.
Kirkham will be recognized with a certificate at the next World Congress of Soil Science, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Aug. 12-18, 2018.