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ISMC News 7 Feb 2023

Announcements + Featured Paper + Featured Soil Modeller
New executive board formed and new co-chair elected
The new executive board has been formed after the election in November 2022. The new members of the executive board are:  Kathe Todd-Brown, Bhavna Arora, Jan Vanderborght, Quirijn de Jong van Lier, Anne Verhoef, Yijian Zeng, Ana Tarquis, Umakant Mishra, Dani Or, Salini Sasidharan, Gautam Sagar, Roland Baatz, Attila Nemes, Nunzio Romano, Hailong He, Mehdi Rahmati, Adebayo Oluwole Eludoyin, Ruhollah Taghizadeh-Mehrjardi, Huang Jingyi, Francis Durnin-Vermette, Gordon Merrick. 
Additionally, a new co-chair has been elected during the executive board meeting held 1st of February 2023. There were two volunteers, namely Nunzio Romano from Naples University in Italy and Yijian Zeng from Twente University Netherlands. Yijian Zeng has been elected for the new 3 year term and Teamrat Ghezzehei is outgoing. We thank Teamrat for his excellent work over the last 3 years, and welcome Yijian Zeng as the co-chair for the coming 3 years.
New working group on teaching & dissemination seeks for volunteers
We are delighted to inform you that the teaching & dissemination working group (TAWG) has been initiated at ISMC. This working group aims to improve the efficiency of the knowledge flow in soil modelling and related fields between research groups. Here is the description of WG. If you are an early career scientist who wants to take actions on TAWG  goals, please fill out this application form. Our effort is to build an inclusive and diverse team where ideas grow better.
It’s great to have you with us.
Conferences and Workshops
BONARES Conference 2023: Soil as a Sustainable Resource (15-17 May 2023, Berlin, Germany)
 A sustainable bioeconomy requires integration of soil productivity with a wide range of other soil functions including nutrient cycling, carbon storage, water retention and filtering as well as being the habitat of a myriad of organisms and enabling their activities. The conference will bring together researchers from various disciplines related to soil and plant sciences and agronomy to discuss strategies towards a (multi)functionality of soil ecosystems taking also constraints of climate and global change into account. The conference aims at providing solutions for a sustainable soil management including climate change adaptation, which requires an understanding of soils at a systemic level and to assess their value in a socio-economic framework.
BONARES is looking forward to welcome interested scientists as well as stakeholders in the field of soil management for inspiring discussions.
The following topics will be presented at the conference:
  1. Impact of agriculture and cropping systems on soil functions
  2. Carbon and nutrient cycling in soils: Processes and interactions in a changing world
  3. Soil biomes and multifunctionality of soils
  4. Soil degradation and sustainable soil management in agricultural landscapes
  5. Model-based prediction of the dynamics of soil functions
  6. Using soil sensing technologies for soil mapping, modelling and decision making in agriculture
  7. Soils as a key to climate change mitigation: private and public governance instruments to unlock the potential
  8. Data challenges and solutions 
 More information can be found at Abstract submission deadline is January 10th, 2023
Galileo Conference in Naples, Italy
The 8th Galileo Conference "A European vision for hydrological observations and experimentation" will take place on 12th-15th June 2023 in Naples (Italy), with the geosciences excursion at the Alento Observatory scheduled on 14th June (
This 8th Galileo Conference holds the following sessions:
  1. Innovative geophysical sensing methods in hydrological and critical zone research
  2. Applications of UAS- and satellite-based remote sensing in hydrological monitoring and modeling
  3. From hydro-geophysical observations to predictions (e.g. data assimilation, AI)
  4. Using stable isotope tracking to support hydrological process understanding
  5. Quantifying regional hydrological change impacts
  6. Big data science in hydrological research
The call-for-abstract will be opening in early December of this year and directions will appear soon on the webpage. Therefore, SAVE THE DATE and start preparing your contributions.
Featured Paper
Do you want your paper featured?
Please share your recent paper if you want to be featured in the ISMC newsletter. With your contributions, we will select one paper to be featured in every newsletter. Below is the link to google form
Down to the root of vegetated soil: challenges and state-of-the-art
Vegetated soil plays an essential role in confronting climate change. It is the host material where inorganic carbon is stored and green infrastructures are built. The expected impacts of climate change, such as extreme wetting-drying cycles, pose an urgent need to understand the interplay between soil deformation, root growth, and water/solute uptake. The key to this challenge lies in the extension of unsaturated soil mechanics to incorporate bio-hydrological processes, such as root growth and water uptake. In this paper, we first provide an overview of the state-of-the-art knowledge of root-zone mechanics and bio-hydrology. We identify the main knowledge gaps and suggest an integrated, bottom-to-top approach to develop a multidisciplinary understanding of soil-water-root interaction. We demonstrate how emerging experimental and numerical methods can be used to study rooted soil under wetting--drying cycles. Although focused on the biophysical processes at root/soil particle scales, we discuss potential up-scaling from the root to the field scale and further research on remaining challenges, such as the microbial activities in vegetated soil.
Figure Caption: Sketch of the rooted soil containing sand grains, water, air, roots, and a slice of the tomography of a rooted sample - the elements are detected using the sketch colours. The top right panel illustrates soil water retention curves at various stages of the root system development (dark green to light green). The blue path exemplifies a transient behavior where the root growth dynamics is active.
Featured Soil Modeller
Ali Mehmandoostkotlar
As a civil engineer with a passion for understanding the complexities of soil and plants systems, I have dedicated my career to understanding and solving the complexities of the earth beneath our feet. In fact it was my master's thesis on heavy metal transport which sparked a deep interest in soil processes and modeling, leading me to pursue further study in Brazil.
At Prof. van Lier’ lab in University of Sao Paulo, I conducted extensive research on nitrate availability for plants under the application of layered double hydroxide slow-release fertilizer, using a combination of experimental and numerical methods. This experience solidified my passion for soil science and motivated me to continue my research journey, delving deeper into the world of root water uptake modeling at UClouvain with Prof. Mathieu Javaux. I joined ILVO as a senior researcher to work on different projects related to drainage systems, drought, and salinity dynamics.
- Please tell us briefly about yourself and your research interest. 
As a senior researcher at the Flanders Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO), I am on a mission to find sustainable solutions for the pressing issue of drought and water deficit. My focus is on developing smart strategies for groundwater management through controlled drainage systems, which can significantly increase the availability of water for plant growth when it demands. Additionally, I am investigating how controlled drainage systems can be used to increase freshwater lens and reduce the rise of saline water in coastal areas.
In my research, I employ a variety of modeling approaches such as 1D, 2D, and 3D with variable density and constant density for water flow and solute transport. Furthermore, in collaboration with UClouvain, I am studying how mechanistic models considering detailed root hydraulic architecture can be used to create a proxy for the activity of root systems in water uptake. This will help us understand how to target irrigation, fertilizer management, and field management to cope with drought stresses. In addition to my research, I am deeply committed to spreading knowledge and empowering the next generation of soil modelers. I have taken the initiative to establish a new working group dedicated to providing equal education opportunities at ISMC. Through this group, I am striving to ensure that all interested students and professionals have access to the latest techniques and tools for soil modelling. 
-  How did you first become interested in soil modeling and learn about ISMC?
My interest in soil modeling began during my studies in an arid region of Iran, where I witnessed the challenges faced by farming families due to water scarcity. This inspired me to pursue my MSc thesis on the effects of wastewater reuse on crops and soil. Through my research and collaboration on the design of porous pavements to increase water storage, I became familiar with using and developing computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models to gain deeper insights into experimental data.
During my PhD, I decided to focus specifically on soil water atmosphere modeling plus data mining techniques. I first learned about ISMC in 2018 when I participated in a conference held in Wageningen. Since then, I have kept in touch and collaborated with some researchers in different science panels through ISMC.
- Please tell us briefly how your research could contribute to ISMC Science Panel's activities. Or the other way around, how do you wish ISMC science panels help/support your research activities?
As a soil hydrologist, my research aligns with the goals of several ISMC science panels, particularly those focused on water management and soil modeling. However, my current focus is on the teaching dissemination working group, where I and my colleagues are working to establish a collaborative education system for soil modelers worldwide, particularly those facing unequal opportunities.
One example of how ISMC has supported me is through the recent "water fluxes in soil-plant system" summer school held at UClouvain in 2022, where we received positive feedback and requests for future collaborations. These types of concrete collaborations between ISMC and early career scientists provide opportunities for both parties to grow and develop new ideas. 
- What resources or skills would you recommend that early career members of ISMC should acquire? And how can ISMC help and support early career members in this regard?
As an early career member of ISMC, I highly recommend investing in developing a strong foundation in technical skills such as mathematics, physics, and programming. This will enable you to stay on the cutting edge of the field of soil modeling, and gives you the tools to tackle complex and challenging problems.
But technical skills are not enough. To make a real impact in your research, you also need to develop your soft skills such as networking, collaboration, time and project management, and communication. ISMC provides a fantastic platform for early career members to connect with experienced researchers, form valuable partnerships and learn from the best.
Moreover, being transparent and open in your research is becoming more and more important. ISMC can support you in this by providing training and resources on open science practices and open-source software. Embracing open science will increase visibility and help you to build a reputation as a credible and reliable researcher.
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