Texas Tech University

Daniel Hirmas named Texas Tech’s B.L. Allen Endowed Chair in Pedology

Norman Martin

January 10, 2023

Daniel Hirmas, a nationally-recognized soil scientist from the University of California-Riverside, has been named a professor and the B. L. Allen Endowed Chair in Pedology within Texas Tech's Department of Plant & Soil Science, according to Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources officials. He officially stepped into his new teaching and research post on Jan. 1.

“Dr. Hirmas is recognized as a leader in quantitative pedology, soil-landscape dynamics, and soil hydrology,” said Glen Ritchie, chair of Texas Tech's Department of Plant & Soil Science. “We are fortunate to welcome such a talented researcher and mentor back to Texas Tech University.”

One of Hirmas' primary goals at Texas Tech is to apply new, high resolution imaging techniques – VisNIR hyperspectral imaging and micro-X-ray fluorescence – to map spatial distributions of soil chemical and mineralogical components at the horizon scale with the aim of linking the arrangement of soil solid phase constituents – especially soil carbon – to changes in land use, climate and root architecture.

“These tools will help to better understand and potentially optimize the arrangement of soil particles and pores for plant growth and soil health,” Hirmas said.

In the past, his research program has broadly focused on analysis of continental-scale datasets to assess rapid, climate-induced changes in soil structure, macroporosity, and soil hydrology; as well as application of 3-D laser scanning, proximal sensing, and rapid fabrication methods to quantitatively characterize and understand the evolution of soil structure and its effect over vadose zone water flux.

Established in 2008, the primary objective of the endowed chair is to strive for excellence in the fields of pedology and/or soil mineralogy. Pedology is the study of soil development processes and resultant profile morphology. The endowment has been used to support the production of numerous research manuscripts published in journals such as the Soil Science Society of America Journal and Geoderma.

Prior to joining the Texas Tech faculty, Hirmas served as an associate professor within the University of California-Riverside's Department of Environmental Sciences. He also worked as an associate and assistant professor in the University of Kansas' Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science in Lawrence, Kansas.

He is a member of the Professional Soil Scientists Association of California, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, International Union of Soil Sciences, American Geophysical Union, and the Soil Science Society of America. He received his bachelor's degree in biology from Texas A&M University, and his master's degree in soil science from Texas Tech. His doctorate in soil and water sciences is from the University of California-Riverside.

Texas Tech's Department of Plant & Soil Science is a comprehensive academic unit, conducting research and offering coursework and programs in several areas of plant and soil science. It has 29 full-time faculty members, and a student body consisting of approximately 150 undergraduate and 120 graduate students. Some of those students are enrolled in the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources distance education program.


This story was first published in the Davis College NewsCenter. See the original article here.