4 August 2006

A prominent University of Queensland soil scientist has been appointed the President of the International Union of Soil Sciences.

He is Professor Roger Swift, who is the University`s Executive Dean for the Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science (NRAVS).

The International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) is the global union of soil scientists incorporating over 50,000 individual members in 69 member nations around the world.

Professor Swift takes on the presidency with an impressive résume of service to the soil sciences beginning in the UK and including work at universities in New Zealand and Australia. Following a period with the CSIRO in the early 90’s as Chief, Division of Soils, he took over his current position as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science (NRAVS) and Gatton Campus Director in 2000.

“I am very pleased to become the President of the IUSS, following a long career in soil science as lecturer, researcher, manager and administrator in universities and research organisations," Professor Swift said.

"I have also been fortunate to work and gain experience in several countries in the developed and developing world.”

Professor Swift officially took over his position as President at the conclusion of the 18th World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in Philadelphia, USA. UQ's Associate Professor Neal Menzies has been appointed the Vice-President of the IUSS.

“The IUSS represents soil scientists at the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), promoting the interests of soil scientists internationally,” Professor Swift said.

“Soil scientists are important to agricultural industries and the environment because they study the science of soils as a natural resource on the surface of the earth. They deal with soil formation, classification and mapping, properties of soil including their physical, chemical and biological characteristics and also the fertility properties of soil. Soil is integral to life on earth, providing the only resource for food production.

“The major challenges facing soil scientists at present is improving soil fertility overcoming soil salinity and acidity, enhancing carbon sequestration and rectifying contamination.

Although the highlight of Professor Swift’s Presidency will be hosting the World Congress of Soil Science (WCSS) in Brisbane in 2010, his ongoing focus will be to raise the profile of soil, including the significance of this vital natural resource in the production of food, fuel and fibre and as a key component of environmental processes. Professor Swift will also be working to highlight the wide variety of rewarding careers available to industry entrants.

Media inquiries: Susanne Schick - UQ Gatton Campus (5460 1229, 0409 265 587).
Further information/comment: Contact Professor Roger Swift (5460 1201).