Co-Chairs of the International Scientific Committee

Franciska de Vries

Franciska de Vries is Professor of Earth Surface Science at the University of Amsterdam. Her research focusses on the effects of global change on soil organisms and their functioning, and in particular how interactions with plants modify these responses. She is interested in global patterns as well as in disentangling small-scale mechanisms, and uses experimental and observational studies on global and regional scales, field and field-based mesocosm experiments, and pot experiments under controlled conditions. A major aim in her work is to understand the properties that determine ecosystem response to change, and using those for predicting, and managing, future ecosystem functioning.

Mary Firestone

Mary Firestone’s soil microbial ecology laboratory investigates the interactions of microorganisms with each other and with their soil environment. Current research in her lab addresses cross kingdom interactions underpinning C- and N- cycling in soil. Research in the Firestone lab commonly uses isotopes to follow material exchange among viruses, bacteria, fungi (AMF), and micro fauna as well as isotope-enabled metagenomics and amplicon sequencing to disentangle complex communities and link function to identity.

Olaf Schmidt

Olaf Schmidt is a Professor at the School of Agriculture and Food Science, and a member of the UCD Earth Institute, at University College Dublin. He is committed to science education and teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in agricultural, environmental and biological sciences. His research interests are diverse and include linkages between land use, soil biology and soil functions, crop pest management, tick ecology, food authentication and the application of stable isotope techniques in any of the above.

Members of the International Scientific Committee

Fredrick O. Ayuke

Fredrick O. Ayuke is a Senior Lecturer, at the Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology, University of Nairobi, and Thread Coordinator, Conservation Agriculture, Soil and Water Management Instructor at Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture (RICA); Consultant with Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).  His interests are in  soil biodiversity conservation and associated ecosystem services, conservation agriculture, Soil organic matter dynamics in agroecosystems and urban food systems. Currently serving in GSBI Scientific Advisory Committee.

Richard Bardgett

Richard Bardgett is Professor of Ecology at The University of Manchester, United Kingdom. His research seeks to develop a mechanistic and conceptual understanding of how interactions between plants and complex soil biological communities regulate biogeochemical cycles and plant community dynamics, and their response to global change. He has written several books on this topic, including “Aboveground-Belowground Interactions (2010) and “Earth Matters: How Soil Underpins Civilization” (2016), both published by Oxford University Press, and is routinely recognised as a Highly Cited Researcher in ecology and environmental sciences. Richard is currently President of the British Ecological Society and Senior Editor of Journal of Ecology.

Isabelle Barois

My main research is on earthworms and their interactions with microorganisms and soil physiochemical characteristics.  I work as well on endogeic and epigeic earthworms, with these last determining how they produce vermicompost from different feedstock and which quality it has.

I do surveys on soil meso- and macrofauna in different ecosystems and land uses and determine how the soil fauna supports changes. I promote the knowledge and conservation of soil biodiversity.

Fiona Brennan

Research officer, Teagasc (the Irish Agricultural and Food Development Authority)
Research Interests include microbial-soil-plant interactions in agronomic systems, and their relationship to the role of functional microbial communities in soil biogeochemical cycles and greenhouse gas emissions. She leads the Soil Microbiome sub-programme

Maria J.I. Briones 

Maria J.I. Briones (PhD in Biological Sciences) is currently a Professor of Animal Biology at the University of Vigo (Spain) with special interest on the functional role of soil fauna in terrestrial ecosystems in the context of climate change. In particular I have been trying to quantify soil biodiversity changes and their potential implications for ecosystem services that they govern (i.e. sustainable plant production, soil carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas mitigation, hydrological regulation). To achieve this I have developed a robust research profile on taxonomy and ecology of different soil organisms.

Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira

Fatima Maria de Souza Moreira- Full professor Universidade Federal de Lavras since 1993
1978-93- researcher at the National Institute of Amazonia Research (AM, Brazil)
Since 1978- coordination and participation in projects funded by Brazilian agencies CNPq, Capes, Fapemig and FINEP

2002 – 2010- Brazilian Coordinator of project “Conservation and sustainable Management of Below-Ground Biodiversity GF2715/02)” (CIAT-TSBF) with funding from GEF/UNEP
Scientific and technical production: 217 papers, 46 chapters, and 4 books published, 13 books edited. More than 200 graduate and undergraduate students supervised.
Since 2011- coordination of the Graduate Programme in Soil Science/ UFLA.
July 2015 to July 2019 -President of Brazilian Society of Soil Science.

Konstantin B. Gongalsky

Konstantin B. Gongalsky is a specialist in soil macrofauna and terrestrial isopods in particular. Conducting research on soil ecology and forest functioning mainly after disturbances: industrial pollution and forest fires. Applying spatial soil ecology studies and application of geostatistic methods in biodiversity research. Conducting research on soil biogeography and biodiversity. He is Head of both Laboratory of Ecological Soil Functions at A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences and Laboratory for Biogeography of Soils at Moscow State University.

Zhongjun Jia

Dr. Zhongjun Jia is a professor of Microbial Ecology at the Instute of Soil Science, Chinese Acaemy of Sciences (CAS). He obtained Ph.D. in 2002 and conducted postdoctoral researches in USA, Janpan, and Germany before he joined CAS in 2008. Dr. Jia’s research thesmes include the ecology and evolution of ammonia oxidizers and methane oxidizers, environmental microbiomes and ecosystem health, and the-state-of-the-art techniques for microbiome function. Dr. Jia has been extensively involved in national research plans of soil microbiomes as the leading principal investigator, and has published 91 papers in refereed English journals (52 papers since 2014) with 1/3 in the top-tier journals.

Zoë Lindo

Dr. Zoë Lindo uses soil arthropods as models for understanding biodiversity and ecosystem function. She combines large-scale field observations, lab, greenhouse, and field-scale experimental manipulations, together with theoretical approaches, to understand how global environmental changes will impact soil biodiversity and function. Dr. Lindo is recognized as a world-leading expert in the Acarine suborder Oribatida, and the expert on the oribatid family Peloppiidae; she teaches Oribatida at the Acarology Summer Program of the Ohio State University/University of Arkansas. Dr. Lindo is also the co-Editor-in-Chief for Pedobiologia¬–Journal of Soil Ecology.

Irena Maček

Dr Irena Maček is an associate professor of ecology at the Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her research interests include rhizosphere microbes, particularly interactions between plants and root endophytic fungi. Much of her work focuses on the ecology of plants and soil microbes in extreme environments (e.g. natural CO2 springs or mofettes), where she has studied soil communities adapted to long-term elevated geological CO2 and CO2-induced soil hypoxia. Soil life has been her passion since her PhD, with a particular interest in arbuscular mycorrhiza, which she has studied in a range of different ecosystems, from agricultural fields, forests, polluted sites to extreme environments.

Luca Montanarella

Luca Montanarella has worked in the European Commission since 1992. Leading the Soil Data and Information Systems activities of the Joint Research Centre in support to the EU Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection and numerous other soil related policies. He is responsible for the European Soil Data Centre (ESDAC), the European Soil Information System (EUSIS) and the European Soil Bureau Network (ESBN).

In 2011 he supported the establishment of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) at FAO. From 2013 to 2017 Chair of the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils of FAO (ITPS). Co-Chair of the Land degradation and Restoration Assessment of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Co-founder of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) initiating the Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas. Currently member of the editorial board for the FAO report on the ‘The state of knowledge on soil biodiversity’

Laurent Philippot

Laurent Philippot obtained his PhD in 1997 from the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France and he is now Director of Research at the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) in Dijon. His main research interest is in bridging microbial community ecology, microbial processes and ecosystem functioning using a trait-centered approach. He has developed this line of research with a focus on microbial guilds involved in nitrogen cycling and greenhouse gas emissions. He published more than 130 articles (h index of 49 WoS) and he is senior editor for The ISME J and editorial board member of Applied and Environmental Microbiology and FEMS Microbiology Ecology.

Matthias Rillig

Matthias Rillig is a soil ecologist primarily interested in fungi. His lab works on a range of topics including global change effects (microplastic, drought, warming and others), ecological synthesis, trait-based ecology of fungi, soil aggregation and community ecology. Matthias is a professor at Freie Universität Berlin and director of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB).

Brajesh Singh

Prof Singh is a microbial ecologist at Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and Western Sydney University. Through his fundamental research, he identifies the quantitative relationships between microbial diversity and ecosystem functions and how natural/anthropogenic pressures such as global change affect this. His applied research harnesses the knowledge gained in fundamental research to achieve agriculture productivity, and environmental sustainability. Outcomes from his research have informed multiple policy decisions at national and international levels and he is currently working with multiple inter-governmental bodies including United Nation agencies such as Food and Agriculture Authority to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Wim van der Putten

Wim van der Putten is head of the Terrestrial Ecology at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) and special professor in Functional Biodiversity at Wageningen University. Wim’s main interest is in aboveground-belowground multitrophic interactions, plant-soil feedback, succession, (soil) biodiversity, invasions, and climate change-induced range shifts. He had an ERC Advanced grant on community re-assembly under climate warming, is elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and member of the Board of Reviewing Editors of Science. He co-founded the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (

Monica Farfan

Monica Farfan is the Executive Director of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative based out of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability and a post-doctoral fellow at Colorado State University. She is a mite community ecologist interested in predator-prey interactions and how bottom-up and top-down effects influence decomposition. Her research focuses on detrital and foliar communities and links between these above- and belowground systems. She is the current president of the Acarological Society of America and served as Secretary/Treasurer from 2015-2018. Monica has been on the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and DePaul University, Chicago, IL. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois-Chicago and her M.Sc from The Ohio State University. 


Global Drivers of Biodiversity

Soil Biodiversity for Sustainable Agriculture

Aboveground-Belowground Interactions

Novel Techniques in Soil Biodiversity Research

Threats to Soil Biodiversity & Protection of Soil Biodiversity

Restoration of Soil Biodiversity

Abstracts dealing with education may be offered within or across sub-themes

With Special Thanks to Our Partners

Principle Partner

Executive Partner

Associate Partner

Conference Management and Website design by Conference Partners International