Dr. Martine van der Ploeg, assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, was recently awarded the SSSA Soil Physics Division Early Career Award. This award recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions in soil physics within six years of completing their Ph.D. degree. Applicants must be active members of SSSA, provide evidence of quality teaching (if in a teaching position) and effectiveness in extension and/or outreach activities, contribute original basic and/or applied research in soil physics, and participate in public, professional, and institutional domains.
Martine’s research shows her originality and versatility as it covers a broad research area ranging from subpermafrost environments to monitoring systems. In her PhD, she successfully combined polymer chemistry, ceramic technology, and soil physics into a system that could measure beyond wilting point—a goal long seen as a holy grail in soil physics—, and in subsequent research applied this technology in ecogenomics and plant physiology research.
In her teaching Martine mobilizes students to apply topical content to formulate sustainable solutions for future challenges (food, water, climate). She teaches in both the regular program at Wageningen University and in the B.Sc. Honours Programme.
She has an impressive service record: is chairs the Vadose Zone subdivision of EGU, and has co-initiated the global network on Groundwater@Global Palaeoclimate Signals and is the European coordinator of this collaboration. In 2014 she became a Board member of the Dutch Scientific Hydrology Center Boussinesq. She co-founded a non-profit to find innovative ways to communicate and interact with society.