Professor of Pedology
Deputy Director of CAES
Gene Kelly is a Professor of Pedology, Deputy Director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station and is Associate Director for Research in the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University (CSU). He was recently on assignment at National Ecological Observation Network (NEON) as visiting head scientist. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Colorado State University and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley. Dr. Kelly conducts research and lectures nationally and internationally on various aspects of soils as related to global change issues. His scientific specialization is in Pedology and Geochemistry with primary interests in the biological weathering of soil and studies of soil degradation and global biogeochemical cycles. His current research is centered on Global Soil Degradation and fundamental role of grasslands in global biogeochemical cycles. He serves as an advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture with the National Cooperative Soil Survey, The National Science Foundation and several major research programs. He is a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and is the recipient of the 2016 Soil Science Society of America Research Award. A native of New York, a marathoner and triathelete, he lives in Boulder, Colorado.
I drifted into Pedology as an activity that involves more of the things that interest me; Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geology, and Ecology. This discipline of Pedology simultaneously challenges one intellectually, physically and brings one to the field in some of the most beautiful and interesting places imaginable.
I am interested in the underlying stability of soil systems. This stability is controlled by the inherent balance between inputs and losses of nutrients and carbon. We now understand that human exploitation of these soil resources, beginning a few thousand years ago, allowed agriculture to become an enormous success. The vastness of the planet and its soil resources allowed agriculture to expand, with growing populations, or to move, when soil resources were depleted. My research program is directed toward studying the origin and evolution of soils and quantifying the biologically mediated processes of soil formation in many environments around the world. However, the practice of farming greatly accelerated rates of erosion relative to soil production, and soil has been and continues to be lost at rates that are orders of magnitude greater than mechanisms that replenish soil. The net results of human impacts on soil resources this century will be global in scale and will have direct impacts on human security for centuries to come.
My current research is targeted towards evaluating the vulnerability and stability of soils to changing climatic and land use conditions in the context of global and climate change research.
Extension and Outreach:
As the liaison between the university and cooperators in federal, state, local and private sectors, I work at strengthening our capacity for accessing and disseminating soils information. Much of the information about soils that people utilize comes directly out of Soil Surveys published through the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). I serve on several regional and national advisory committees for the NCSS.