GS-EAG Outreach Program

The GS-EAG Outreach Program is a partnership between the Geochemical Society and the European Association of Geochemistry with the directive of developing outreach activities in geochemistry in under-represented regions of the world.

2022-23 Outreach Program to Africa

Outreach Lecturer: Sebastian Doetterl

Sebastian Doetterl is a physical geographer with a special focus on soil development. He is working as an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) for Soil Resources at ETH Zurich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science since 2019, is the group leader of the DFG funded Emmy Noether research group “TropSOC” and co-founder of the Congo Biogeochemistry Observatory. Doetterl is especially passionate about engaging stakeholders, decision makers and scientists in the Global South to profit from and advance our knowledge of biogeochemical cycles in tropical environments. With this, he contributes towards a better understanding of tropical soil systems and how these differ from temperate regions, where most of our knowledge is derived from.

His research is oriented towards carbon and nutrient dynamics across geo-climatic gradients with a focus on the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on soil development. He is particularly interested in helping to bridge the gap between process understanding from experimental data to model development and spatial representation of biogeochemical cycles. He has been working on soil development and its consequences for biogeochemical cycles in a large variety of ecosystems, including large scale gradients and chronosequences, with his latest focusing being on tropical African landscapes.

Lectures, locations and dates

As part of the EAG-GS Outreach Program, Dr. Doetterl will give two connected lectures on the role of biogeochemistry and soil development in complex tropical landscapes for carbon and nutrient cycling. A special emphasis will be given on the rapid land cover changes we are observing in tropical Africa as population grows, and climate as well as land management changes.

The first lecture will focus on the role of pedogenesis for understanding today’s soil landscapes and their properties in tropical and subtropical Africa with a focus on natural ecosystems. This lecture will illustrate how soil development can govern and control carbon input, turnover and stabilization in soils and how ecosystems adapt towards but also shape the properties of tropical soils.

The second lecture will focus on the emergence of new soil landscapes and their relevance for biogeochemical cycles in the 21st century and beyond with a special focus on tropical Africa. Emphasis will be given on the effects of land conversion for soil biogeochemistry and soil fertility, how these effects differ across soil types and landforms and how knowledge on soil biogeochemistry can help us to improve cropland management but also reforestation.

Each lecture is about 90 minutes long. Participants are invited to reach out to the lecturer for an extended discussion afterwards.

(exact dates tba)
1-2 November 2022 World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF), University of Eldoret Nairobi, Kenya
3-4 November 2022 University of Nairobi Nairobi, Kenya
7-8 November 2022 Makerere University Kampala, Uganda
9-11 November 2022 University of Rwanda Kigali, Rwanda
2023 (dates tba) Sokoine University of Agriculture Tanzania
2023 (dates tba) University of Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
2023 (dates tba) Bunda College of Agriculture Malawi
2023 (dates tba) Copperbelt University Zambia

Learn about Past Outreach Initiatives