2022 Annual Meeting

Link to PSSAC’s YouTube Channel and watch the recording of this interesting Zoom Meeting!

The 2022 Annual Meeting of the Professional Soil Scientists Association of California was held virtually on October 21, 2022 (1-3 pm)

We enjoyed presentations from the three interesting speakers, please see their topics and bios, below. After the presentations, there was a brief PSSAC business meeting, including the introduction of PSSAC’s 2022 scholarship recipients. Following there was an opportunity for a moderated roundtable discussion, so that PSSAC’s members and friends could be updated on various projects and other items of soil science interest. PSSAC was grateful to Ascent Environmental who will be providing Zoom meeting access and professional moderation of the meeting.

Virtual Meeting Agenda (1-3 pm, 10/21/22):

  • Welcome (1:00-1:10)
  • Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe (Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy) “From the Ground Up: Soils, Climate Change, and Inclusive Excellence” (1:10-1:40)
  • Michael Sowers, (Valley Sciences and Engineering), “Solving Water Infiltration Issues in Azerbaijan” (1:40-2:00)
  • Break (2:00-2:10)
  • Randy Riddle, (NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division), “The Salton Sea Perimeter Project: Filling the Gaps” (2:10-2:30)
  • PSSAC Business Meeting (including scholarship presentations, and a preview of next year’s Field Tour on Santa Cruz Island) (2:30-2:55)
  • Closing Remarks (2:55-3:00)
  • Opportunity for Moderated Open Forum (3:00-3:30) Optional


Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
Presentation: “From the Ground Up: Soils, Climate Change, and Inclusive Excellence”

Bio: Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe is Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. She is on leave from the University of California, Merced where she is a Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry, holds the Ted and Jan Falasco Chair in Earth Sciences and Geology, and served as the Interim Associate Dean for Graduate Education. Berhe’s internationally recognized research lies at the intersection of soil science, global change science, and political ecology, with an emphasis on how the soil system regulates the earth’s climate and the dynamic two-way relationship between the natural environment and human societies.

Berhe’s scientific leadership has been recognized by multiple national awards. Additionally, she was selected as a New Voice in Science from the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (2018); served as the Chair of the US National Committee on Soil Science at the National Academies; and has served in scientific advisory capacities for multiple state and private programs related to her areas of expertise. Berhe is committed to broadening participation in science, as a former Leadership board member for the Earth Science Women’s Network and as a founding investigator of the ADVANCEGeo Partnership – a National Science Foundation funded effort to empower (geo)scientists to transform workplace climate through interventions to reduce harassment, discrimination, bullying, and other exclusionary behaviors in research environments.

Berhe received a B.Sc. in Soil and Water Conservation from the University of Asmara, an M.Sc. in Political Ecology from Michigan State University, and a Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Sowers
Presentation: “Solving Water Infiltration Issues in Azerbaijan”

Bio: Michael Sowers is the Managing Soil Scientist at Valley Sciences and Engineering, a division of Valmont Industries, Inc., based out of Visalia, CA. Mr. Sowers is a Certified Professional Soil Scientist (CPSS) and a Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) with 30 years of experience working with land application of municipal and commercial process wastewater disposal and reuse systems in California, Washington, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

He has extensive experience evaluating, interpreting, and mapping soils exclusively for the land application of wastewater. He has also taught Soil Judging at Delaware Valley University for six years and California State University – Fresno. Michael is a graduate of Delaware Valley University, where he earned a B.S. in Agronomy and Environmental Science.

Randy Riddle
Presentation: “The Salton Sea Perimeter Project: Filling in the Gaps”

Bio: Randy Riddle is the Senior Regional Soil Scientist (detail) for the Special Projects Office and Chairperson for the Urban Soils Focus Team with the NRCS Soil and Plant Science Division. Randy has done soil survey work in California since 2010 following a brief stint mapping soils in southern New Jersey and Maryland beginning in 2008. Until recently, Randy was MLRA Soil Survey Leader in Templeton, CA with prior stops as a soil scientist in Oxnard and Carson, CA. He has worked on a variety of soil survey projects and initiatives throughout the central coast and southern California and has an interest in human impacts to soils in urban areas. Randy earned a M.S. in Plant and Soil Science from Texas Tech University and B.S. in Agronomy, Soil Science Option from West Virginia University.