Dr. Francesca Cotrufo grew up in a family of academics, educators and doctors. At a young age, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in academia and research. Today, Dr. Cotrufo is a professor and associate department head in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at CSU. Dr. Cotrufo is also a senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (NREL).
“I grew up with an appreciation for the importance of doing a job that is relevant to society and for which one is passionate about.” Dr. Cotrufo said.
In 2020, Dr. Cotrufo received three prestigious awards: the Soil Science Society of America Research Award and Francis E. Clark Distinguished Lectureship, and the CSU Provost 14’er Award for Faculty Excellence.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Cotrufo has studied the intricacies of soils around the world. A significant part of her research has focused on understanding the processes that regenerate soils and their responses to global changes.
“In a professor’s career, we can individually be as good and talented as we want to be, but a lasting impact comes from having the opportunity to provide an invitation for others to come to the table.”
While she may not have realized it at the time, there have been many times in Dr. Cotrufo’s career when she was offered ‘a seat at the table’. These invitations have been pivotal to her life and career.
“I went to Lancaster University in England to do my PhD research,” said Dr. Cotrufo. “But when I arrived, I wasn’t inspired by the professor who I had originally contacted. So, I went to visit a scientist at another research institute nearby, who I had met before at a conference in Italy and whose work had made a big impression on me. After a great chat on a green English lawn, he invited me to his table - and that was the start of my scientific career.”
That same professor has remained a long-lasting advisor and inspiration for Dr. Cotrufo.
“He really taught me what science was all about.”
Dr. Cotrufo has also welcomed many visiting scientists from China, India, Italy and other places around the world to come to CSU and study soils within her vibrant research group.
“They are always welcome at our table, and when they gain, we gain.”