CCE (Cynthia) van Leeuwen MSc

CCE (Cynthia) van Leeuwen MSc

PhD candidate Quantifying Imperfect Soil Data

Current research

Cynthia is a PhD candidate at ISRIC and Wageningen University, where she works under the supervision of dr. ir. Gerard Heuvelink (promotor), dr. ir. Titia Mulder (co-promotor) and ir. Niels Batjes on the development and use of a soil information system for imperfect soil data.

Most soil information systems store soil observations without storing the associated uncertainties. However, soil data are never perfect and may be hampered by field and laboratory measurement errors, positional errors, classification errors and interpolation errors. It is important to acknowledge the imperfection of the soil database because this allows users to judge the ‘true’ quality of the soil information and decide whether it is sufficient for their intended use. Moreover, digital soil mapping approaches can benefit from quantified soil data quality by weighing observations in accordance with their accuracy. Knowledge about soil data quality is also helpful to refine soil sampling designs and soil map validation procedures.

The aims of this research project are (1) design and implement a database for uncertain soil data; (2) analyse how quantitative uncertainty information can be included in digital soil mapping; and (3) analyse how digital soil mapping results differ from a case in which uncertainty in soil observations is ignored.



Cynthia has completed the master Earth Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, following the research track Geo-Ecological Dynamics. She did her MSc thesis in collaboration with the University of Basel, where she has looked into the physical properties of wind erosion, i.e. the threshold friction velocity for PM10 dust emission, while comparing two instruments; a traditional straight-line wind tunnel and a new device, the Portable In-Situ Wind Erosion Lab (PI-SWERL).

Cynthia has experience as a teacher’s assistant for various bachelor courses on physics, modelling and programming (2 years) and as an administrative help during the accreditation procedure of an academic program. Prior to her PhD, she has published work on the implementation of soil conservation policies targeting land abandonment and soil erosion in Spain.