honeycutt-without-flags-10di1113-0017-2C. Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Dr. Wayne Honeycutt leads the Institute’s programs to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soils.  He previously served for 5 years as the Deputy Chief for Science and Technology with USDA-NRCS in Washington, DC, where he led programs in technology acquisition, development, and transfer to ensure NRCS conservation practices reflect the latest scientific advances for conserving our nation’s soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources.  He served as a Research Soil Scientist for 14 years and a Research Leader for 10 years with the USDA-ARS New England Plant, Soil, and Water Laboratory, where he led and conducted interdisciplinary research on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling and sustainable cropping systems development.  In those roles he led national research teams for predicting nutrient availability, developed procedures adopted by ARS for enhancing national research coordination, and received regional and national awards for technology transfer.

He is a graduate of the “Mastering the Art of Public Leadership” executive development program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC and USDA’s “Performance Excellence and Knowledge” executive development program.  He has served on assignments to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, USDA-ARS National Program Staff, and USDA-ARS Area Office Staff.

Dr. Honeycutt’s commitment to agriculture is rooted in his experiences with raising tobacco, corn, and other crops on his family’s 120-acre farm in Metcalfe County, Kentucky.  He holds a Bachelor's degree in Forestry and Master's degree in Soil Science from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. in Soil Genesis from Colorado State University. He was the 2018 recipient of the Hugh Hammond Bennett Award, the highest honor bestowed on an individual by the Soil and Water Conservation Society.

Cristine Morgan, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Cristine Morgan is responsible for developing and establishing the scientific direction, strategy and implementation plan for Institute research programs and establishing the research priorities for the Institute. Her duties include leading the scientific research and coordinating projects carried out at various institutions that advance soil health science and result in useful and reportable results.

Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Morgan was Professor of Soil Science at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX, where she was recognized for outstanding collaboration, teaching, research, and mentoring. Her emphasis was in soil hydrology, pedometrics, and global soil security. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Morgan conducted ground-breaking research on how management practices influence soil-plant-water relations. She also developed methods that were adopted by USDA for easily measuring soil carbon. She has a history of applying her knowledge for addressing real-world problems experienced by farmers and ranchers and is passionate about educating others.

Dr. Morgan serves on the board of directors for the Soil Science Society of America, is an editor in chief at the global soil science journal, Geoderma, and participates in committees for the International Union of Soil Sciences.

Dr. Morgan earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Soil Science Department (2000 and, 2003 respectively). Her B.S. degree is in Plant and Environmental Soil Sciences from Texas A&M University, magna cum laude (1998).

shafer-portrait-1Steven Shafer, Ph.D.
Interim Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Steven Shafer is responsible for developing and establishing the scientific direction, strategy and implementation plan for Institute research programs and establishing the research priorities for the Institute. His duties include leading the scientific research and coordinating projects carried out at various institutions that advance soil health science and result in useful and reportable results.

Dr. Shafer joined the Soil Health Institute after a career spanning more than 32 years in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In his last position, he served as Associate Administrator for National Programs in the Agricultural Research Service. In this position, he was the senior leader and manager for planning, prioritizing, and budgeting ARS’ comprehensive agricultural research programs. At other times in his career, he served as Director of ARS’ Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA’s largest research installation located just outside Washington, DC; ARS Deputy Administrator for Natural Resources and Sustainable Agricultural Systems national research programs; Senior Advisor for Climate Science in the Office of the Chief Scientist, USDA; Area Director for all research in ARS’ 8-state Midwest Area; and Research Plant Pathologist in ARS’ Air Quality-Plant Growth and Development Research Unit at Raleigh, NC, with concurrent faculty appointment in the Plant Pathology and Soil Science departments at North Carolina State University. His research focused on interactions of air quality with plants, pathogenic and beneficial microorganisms, and soils.

Dr. Shafer received the Senior Executive Service Meritorious Presidential Rank Award in 2011 and the USDA Secretary’s Honor Award in 2012 and 2014. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University, all in plant pathology, with research emphasis on soil microbiology and chemistry. He is a native of Marion, Ohio.

shafer-portrait-1Sheldon Jones
Chief Operating Officer

Sheldon Jones brings over 30 years of experience to the Institute, including a balance of private sector, non-profit and public service experience. Prior to joining SHI he served as Vice President at the Farm Foundation, NFP, from 2008 to 2016, where he oversaw the Foundation’s financial operations and project management activities. His public service experience involved service as deputy commissioner of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, 2004-2008. From 2002 until 2004, he was executive vice president of the Agri-Business Council of Arizona, the agricultural water and power membership organization. From 1997 until 2002, he was director of the Arizona Department of Agriculture. During his term, he was active in the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, serving as president of the organization in 2002. Mr. Jones worked in the banking industry for 14 years before beginning his career in government service. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Arizona State University.

shafer-portrait-1Byron Rath
Sustainability Specialist

Byron Rath is the Sustainability Specialist for the Soil Health Institute. His duties include working with the Institute’s partners and stakeholders to help them achieve their goals through soil health. Prior to joining the Soil Health Institute, Rath taught Geography at the American Community School at Beirut in Lebanon, and worked for CCS, a global fundraising consulting and management firm that provides development services and strategic consulting to nonprofit organizations worldwide. He graduated from Middlebury College with a BA in English and Geography. He is proficient in written and spoken Arabic.

Archie Flanders, Ph.D.
Agricultural Economist

Dr. Archie Flanders assesses the economics of soil health-promoting practices and land management systems using data from long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America and integrating that information with local on-farm data collected in strategic coordination with soil health partners. He works with producers and agricultural researchers to develop decision support tools that farmers and ranchers can use to make informed decisions about production practices on a field-by-field basis, optimizing soil health while realizing economic efficiencies.

Previously, Dr. Flanders served as a faculty member at the University of Georgia and the University of Arkansas with research and extension responsibilities in production economics, farm management, and economic development. He developed interactive economic decision tools for crop and livestock commodities, agricultural policy programs, and whole-farm analysis, which helped producers customize enterprise budgets to represent unique production situations.

Dr. Flanders is a member of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association as well as the Southern Agricultural Economics Association. He received his B.S.A. in General Agriculture, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia.

North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements

This project assesses 31 indicators of soil health, partnering with teams from long-term research sites and scientific laboratories across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements is supported through the generosity of grants from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills.

Paul Tracy, Ph.D.
Project Manager – Soil Science/Agronomy

Dr. Paul Tracy manages the day-to-day activities of the Soil Health Institute’s North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements. Dr. Tracy also leads SHI’s soil health indicators assessment project in Mexico.

Dr. Tracy’s 32-year career has spanned both public and private sectors with roles as the Director of Agronomy, Ostara Nutrient Recovery Technologies; Professional Agronomist, Pacific Northwest WinField Solutions; Director of Agronomy Services, MFA Incorporated; and Assistant/Associate Professor, University of Missouri. Dr. Tracy was elected Chairman to both the Missouri and International Certified Crop Advisor Boards and received the 2015 American Society of Agronomy, Agronomic Achievement/Agronomic Industrial Award. He has a B.S. in Agriculture (Soils Option) from Montana State University, an M.S. in Soil Chemistry from the University of Idaho, and a Ph.D. in Agronomy/Soil Science from Colorado State University.

Michael Cope, Ph.D.
Statistician and Database Manager

Dr. Michael Cope serves as the project’s statistician and database manager. Most recently, Dr. Cope served as a statistical and research analyst at Clemson University. His expertise includes analysis of large and assorted data. He is skilled in Python Programming, Soil Science, Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Modeling, and Cloud Computing.

Dr. Cope received his B.S. in Environmental Studies from Brevard College and his Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University.

G. Mac Bean, Ph.D.
Project Scientist

Dr. G. Mac Bean serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also leads the team for soil health in soil pedology and genesis. Most recently, Dr. Bean focused on improving nitrogen fertilizer management as a graduate student at the University of Missouri.

Dr. Bean is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America, and the International Society of Precision Agriculture. He received his B.S. in Agricultural Science, Systems, and Technology from Brigham Young University-Idaho, his M.S. in Plant Science and his Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Missouri.

Shannon Cappellazzi, Ph.D.
Project Scientist

Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the western United States and also leads the team for soil health in pastures and rangeland for SHI. Dr. Cappellazzi most recently served as Manager at the Oregon State University Central Analytical Laboratory. Earlier in her career, she was the Equestrian Manager for Wheelbarrow Creek Ranch and an agricultural commodities trader for Wilbur-Ellis Company.

Dr. Cappellazzi is a member of the Soil Science Society of America and serves as a board member of the Oregon Society of Soil Scientists. She received her B.S. in Animal Science and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from Oregon State University.

Kelsey Hoegenauer, Ph.D.
Project Scientist

Dr. Kelsey Hoegenauer serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the southern United States. Most recently, Dr. Hoegenauer was a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas conducting research on recycling nutrients using cover crops in row crop systems. She also has served as a graduate research assistant at Auburn University conducting research on the long- and short-term effects of cover cropping on physical and chemical soil properties in a peanut-cotton rotation. As a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture (Noble Foundation), she conducted research on blackberry management in rangelands. Dr. Hoegenauer has certification as an Associate Professional Soil Scientist.

Dr. Hoegenauer is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America, and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. She received her B.S. in Agronomy from Texas A&M University, her M.S. in Plant Science from Auburn University, and her Ph.D. in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (Soil Fertility emphasis) from the University of Arkansas.

Daniel Liptzin, Ph.D.
Project Scientist

Dr. Daniel Liptzin serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the High Plains. Dr. Liptzin recently served as a Senior Instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, where he taught courses in biogeochemistry, environmental science, and climate. His research interests include exploring human effects on the nitrogen cycle, interactions among elemental cycles, redox-sensitive biogeochemistry, and ecosystem processes in seasonally snow-covered ecosystems. Dr. Liptzin is a member of the American Geophysical Union and an investigator at the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research Site in Colorado. He received his B.S. from Yale University, MES from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Charlotte Norris, Ph.D., P.Ag.
Project Scientist

Dr. Charlotte Norris serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for Canada. Dr. Norris has collaborated on research determining best management practices for intensive vegetable production, assessing the effects of agricultural crops on soil health, and evaluating the effects of forest harvesting practices on soil quality. She also has investigated indicators of soil quality in reclaimed forest ecosystems.

Dr. Norris holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Victoria and received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Alberta. She is a registered Professional Agrologist.

Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke, Ph.D.
Project Scientist

Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke serves as the soil health indicators assessment project lead scientist for the northern Midwest and northeastern United States. She also leads the assessment of microbial population dynamics using genomic tools to identify microbial soil health indicators. Most recently, Dr. Rieke served as a postdoctoral research associate, Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering. Dr. Rieke is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She received her B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, her M.S. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from Iowa State University.

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton is a continuous engagement project to help U.S. cotton farmers increase soil health on their farms. The project seeks to quantify and expand the productivity, economic, and environmental benefits of soil health systems for participating farmers.

David Lamm
Project Manager - Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton

David Lamm spearheads soil health training and education programs for the Soil Health Institute’s Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton.

For 40 years, Mr. Lamm served in various positions within USDA-NRCS, including District Conservationist for the Ft. Wayne Field Office, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in Georgia, and Team Leader for the National Soil Health and Sustainability Team. He assisted with the USDA-NRCS Organic Agriculture and Sustainable Ag effort and worked with program policy, particularly for the Conservation Security Program. Mr. Lamm earned his B.S. in Natural Resources from Ball State University in 1978.

Soil Health Institute Interns

Katie Harrigan

Mrs. Katie Harrigan is a graduate student pursuing a Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Policy through the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at Tufts University in Boston, MA. Her focus is on natural resource conservation in the U.S. food system. She is working with Dr. Wayne Honeycutt at the Soil Health Institute to research federal policies, assess their impact on soil health, and suggest ways to improve these policies. Mrs. Harrigan has a B.S. in Biology from Northeastern University. She worked in the biotechnology field in Boston for five years before seeking a degree to help secure the future of our food and environment.

Janel Ohletz

Mrs. Janel Ohletz is a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Needs Ph.D. Fellow in the Crop and Soil Science Department at North Carolina State University. She is researching nutrient management in field corn using machine learning and remote sensing technology to gain a better understanding of dynamics in soil fertility. Mrs. Ohletz has B.S in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and an M.S. in Agricultural Science from the University of New Hampshire. She is committed to working toward a more sustainable and equitable food system. Mrs. Ohletz is also a classically trained chef and, prior to returning to school, worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years. She believes in making an impact by being part of the conversation for changing our food and agricultural systems.

Janeva Williams

Ms. Janeva Williams is an undergraduate student attending North Carolina A&T State University. Majoring in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Sustainable Land Management, Ms. Williams aspires to work with soil conservationists and scientists on an international level to improve soil health. She joined two major organizations called MANRRS (Minorities in Agricultural, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences) and the Climate Justice League, each of them is about improving the environment and creating self-awareness. Ms. Williams is a student intern for the summer working at SHI in data collection and interpretation.