2002 Lecturer | Dr. Kate M. Scow

About the Lecturer

The nineteenth annual Roscoe Ellis, Jr. Soil Science Lecture was presented by Dr. Kate M. Scow, Professor of Soil Science and Microbial Ecology in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at the University of California, Davis. She joined the UCD faculty in 1989.

Dr. Scow teaches two undergraduate courses, Soil Microbiology and Soil Ecology, and a graduate course in Advanced Soil Microbiology. She has supervised more than 30 graduate students and postdocs as a member of the graduate groups of Microbiology, Soil Science, Ecology, and Agricultural and Environmental Chemistry. Her lab has provided a training ground for more than 50 undergraduate students over the past 12 years. She received the UCD Outstanding Mentor Award in 1998, and twice the Most Valuable Professor Award from the Ecology Graduate Group.

In 2000, Dr. Scow was named Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America. She has served as Chair of the Society’s Division S-3 (Soil Biology & Biochemistry), and as Associate Editor for Journal of Environmental Quality. Currently, she is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Microbial Ecology, Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Encyclopedia of Soils in the Environment, and Encyclopedia of Environmental Microbiology. Dr. Scow received a Fulbright Award, was a recipient of a DOE Young Faculty Award, and was an American Society of Microbiology Foundation Lecturer.


Dr. Scow conducts research on the biodegradation of organic pollutants, the kinetics of microbial processes in soil, and the community ecology of agricultural soils. Currently, her research focuses on bioremediation of the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). Other research has explored the microbial diversity of agricultural soils (using phosopholipids and nucleic acids), application of molecular tools to determine sources of fugitive dust, and how link compositional information about microbial communities to specific microbial processes.

She also has investigated the interrelationships of microbial and physical processes, which has led to long-term collaborations with soil physicists and chemists. Her research results have been published in more than 75 journal articles and invited book chapters. Dr. Scow is one of the original principal investigators with the Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) project, a 12-yr study at UCD that compares organic, low-input, and conventional farming systems in irrigated row crops. She was recently appointed Director of the Kearney Foundation of Soil Science, which supports research on its current mission, “Soil Carbon and California Terrestrial Ecosystems.”


Dr. Scow received her B.S. degree (1973) in biology from Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then took graduate courses at the University of Chicago and Harvard University. Between 1997 and 1983, she worked as an environmental biologist at Arthur D. Little, Inc., in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Scow received her M.S. (1986) and Ph.D. (1989) degrees in soil science in Martin Alexander’s lab at Cornell University.