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Bianca Moebius

2005-2006 CSIP Fellow

Research Interest
Crop and Soil Sciences

I am working on Soil Health in agricultural ecosystems as a graduate student in an MS/PhD program. As collaborator in the NYS Soil Health Project I am evaluating a series of physical and biological tests as potential indicators of agricultural soil health. These indicators are analogous to tests a doctor might perform for our annual check-up. We plan to offer these soil health tests for a fee to farmers and gardeners. Several of these tests are allowing us to see soil health differences caused by different agricultural management practices, such as tillage, crop rotations and additions of organic matter. They provide quick and tangible assessment of soil health and insight into ecological processes.

It is imperative that students learn to understand their interactions with, and dependency on the natural world, so that they can make informed decisions about their use of resources, such as water, soils, fertilizer, pesticides, energy and minerals. In addition, basic scientific concepts in physics, biology and chemistry become much more interesting to students when they have direct relevance to their own lives. I would like to partake in developing this important understanding in students, using inquiry methods and hands-on exploration of plants (specifically the growth of our food), soils, seeds, water and microbes, both in the classroom and outdoors. Because of the hands-on, participatory nature of my research, some equipment (infiltrometer, penetrometer and rainfall simulator for example) is designed to be taken into the field for farmer-demos, and thus would be easy to bring into the class room. I would be excited to help students set up vermicomposting systems to study their ecology over the course of a semester. I can also provide access to the Master Composter educational sites, or to the Ithaca Community Garden plots, where I will be growing over the next seasons.

I would like to set up workshops with hands-on components to be taught in a variety of class rooms. Also, I would like to collaborate in a long term project, involving students on a daily or weekly basis. I am very much looking for a long term collaborative relationship with a teacher and a group of students (earth science, environmental science, biology and chemistry seem most appropriate, but I am flexible), in which we share ideas, and learn from each other about teaching, science and teaching science.



Copyright 2006 CSIP, Cornell University