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Robert E. Danielson

photo of Bob Danielson

Degrees Awarded

  • B.S. Colorado A & M University – 1948
  • M.S. Cornell University – 1950
  • Ph.D. – University of Illinois – 1955


Awards and Recognition

  • Shepardson Award for Excellence in Teaching, CSU College of Agricultural Sciences, 1977
  • Outstanding Faculty Award, Dept. of Agronomy, 1978
  • Chairman, Soil Physics Division, Soil Science Society of America, 1979
  • Fellow, American Society of Agronomy, 1980
  • Fellow, Soil Science Society of America, 1980
  • President, CSU Chapter, Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society for Agriculture, 1983-1984
  • Oliver P. Pennock Distinguished Service Award, CSU, 1984
  • President, Western Society of Soil Science, 1984
  • Faculty Certificate of merit, Gamma Sigma Delta, Colorado Chapter, 1985

Bob Danielson was raised on a farm near Wiggins, Colorado.  He enrolled at Colorado A & M College in the Department of Agronomy and graduated with a B.S. in 1948.  He was attracted to Cornell University for graduate studies where he completed an M.S. in 1950.  He then followed his Major Professor from Cornell to the University of Illinois for a Ph.D. in Soil Physics.  Not many scientists can list the same Major Professor for two different graduate degrees at two different universities!  When Bob completed his Ph.D. in 1955, he returned to Colorado State University as Assistant Professor of Agronomy.  In those early days at CSU, he taught Introductory Soils, Soil Fertility, and Soil Microbiology with Laboratory.  In later years he taught Soils Physics with Laboratory, and Irrigation Science.


Bob’s research interests centered around the physical condition of the soil in relation to plant growth and crop production with soil water of most significance among these physical properties.  He developed expertise in irrigation and water requirements of crops involving field studies, greenhouse investigations, and controlled environments in the laboratory and with growth chambers.  One area of interest was the effect of aeration on plant growth.  He showed that there were optimal levels of aeration, above which additional aeration decreased crop growth causing excessive root and microbial respiration, and in turn consuming substrate that decreased the supply available for plant growth.  Bob’s finding of luxury respiration and its negative effects on crop growth and soil organic matter have been used to help explain the beneficial effects of no-till cropping systems and other practical phenomena.


Dr. Danielson served as Major Professor for 14 Ph.D. and 29 M.S. students, the highest number of M.S. students among all Agronomy Faculty.  He also served on the graduate committees of 132 Ph.D. and M.S. candidates, mostly from departments other than Agronomy.  This is a remarkably large number.  With all the evidence of Dr. Danielson’s obvious successes and contributions, he once wrote to a colleague, “It’s not easy to come up with anything that I have been unique in.  I have enjoyed teaching and advising, and my most pleasing experiences have been when students expressed satisfaction with my relation to them.”  Bob Danielson was a modest giant!

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