This year, Colorado State University Distinguished Professor Diana Wall joins the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Edward O. Wilson, and other scientific luminaries as an Honorary Member of the British Ecological Society. Wall is a College of Natural Sciences biology faculty member and director of CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability.
“The British Ecological Society is an esteemed society that has, for more than a century, provided evidence about how the world works,” Wall said. Receiving the honor, which goes to fewer than 1 percent of the group’s members, “was an incredible surprise,” she continued. “It is a tribute to all those who contribute – especially my great lab teams and collaborators, past and present.”
Wall has dedicated her career to studying soil ecology and is part of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative which, with the European Union Joint Research Initiative, released the “Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas” this summer at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. The goal of the work is to raise awareness about the importance of soil’s life – the bacteria, fungi, and animals – that live in the world just beneath our feet.
“This honor, which I can still hardly believe, is truly a recognition that soil biodiversity – whether in Antarctica or right here in soils around Colorado State University – works 24/7 to maintain the crucial ecosystem services our life depends on,” Wall said. “The food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink all depend on the interactions within our living soil. We must sustain that soil, and treat it like gold.”
Wall will be traveling to the UK this winter to accept the honor. The British Ecological Society was founded in 1913 and aims to create and communicate knowledge and solutions in the field of ecology. “Honorary membership is the highest honor we can give,” according to the group. “It is usually given to reflect a lifetime’s achievement in the science of ecology or its application.”
In addition to her positions at CSU, Wall has also served as president of the Ecological Society of America, the American Institute of Biological Sciences, and the Society of Nematologists. She is a national associate of the National Academy of Sciences, fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and recipient of the Ulysses Medal, the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research President’s Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Antarctic Science, among numerous other honors.
She even has an Antarctic feature named after her: the Wall Valley, named in 2004 for her work on the continent – which currently spans more than 25 seasons, and counting.