The Margaret Oliver Award is made biennially by the Pedometrics Commission of the International Union of Soil Sciences. The award is named in honour of Professor Margaret Oliver, and to mark her particular commitment to developing and supporting young pedometricians. The award is made to an early-career scientist, active in pedometrics and in promoting and supporting the discipline who, at the time of nomination (February 2019), had held the degree of PhD for less than six years. In 2019 a total of six candidates were nominated for the award, a measure of the enthusiasm and energy within pedometrics, and the diversity and geographical spread of its practitioners.
It is my great pleasure, as Chair of the Awards Committee of the Pedometrics Commission, to announce that the committee has made the 2019 Margaret Oliver Award to Dr Vera Leatitia (Titia) Mulder, assistant professor in the Soil Geography and Landscape group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
Titia is a graduate of Wageningen, with the distinction of holding two masters degrees from that institution, one on soil–landscape modelling and one on the inference of soil properties from measurements of spectral reflectance. She undertook a PhD at Wageningen on the use of spectroscopy for digital soil mapping, in the course of which, along with extensive computation, she did both field work (in Morocco) and laboratory analyses.
After successfully defending her thesis in October 2013, Titia held post-doctoral positions at the University of Zürich (Switzerland), the INRA InfoSol Unit (France) and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium) where she focussed on modelling and mapping soil organic carbon at global and regional scales.
Titia has made substantial contributions to the development of pedometrics throughout the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum at Wageningen, developing and teaching courses on proximal sensing and machine learning. She supervises a PhD student and is due to take on three more this year. She has also established a soil spectroscopy laboratory at Wageningen, and has been energetic in developing collaborations both within and outwith the university.
Titia serves the wider scientific community through service on the editorial boards of two soil science journals. She works in Pillar 4 Working Group of the Global Soil Partnership. Of particular relevance to this award is her election as Chair of the Pedometrics Commission of IUSS at the 2018 World Congress of Soil Science.
Within a short period of obtaining her PhD Titia has contributed substantially to the field of pedometrics, both through her research and teaching, but also through her energetic and commited engagement with the scientific community and her willingness to offer both support and leadership to the discipline. It is clear that she has made an impressive start to her career, and we all look forward to seeing how she progresses in the years to come. Given the objectives and focus of the Margaret Oliver award, there can be no doubt that she is a worthy winner, and this was reflected in the views of the committee.
University of Nottingham