Alexandre Wadoux

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 had held the degree of PhD for less than six years.  In 2021 a total of four candidates were nominated for the award.  They came from three continents, and each had an impressive CV evidencing a range and depth of interests, and original contributions to Pedometrics. 

The choice of a winner from the four nominees was not easy, but it is my great pleasure, as Chair of the Awards Committee of the Pedometrics Commission, to announce that the committee has made the 2021 Margaret Oliver Award to Dr Alexandre Wadoux.

Alexandre graduated in Environmental Geography from the University of Angers, France, in 2012.  He obtained Masters degrees in soil science (Tübingen, Germany) and philosophy of science (Nantes, France) before graduating from Wageningen in 2019 with a PhD thesis entitled Sampling design optimization for geostatistical modelling and prediction under the supervision of Gerard Heuvelink and Dick Brus.  These studies were undertaken within a highly competitive Marie Curie Initial Training Network (EU) programme, under which he gained experience as a visiting researcher at Sydney, the British Geological Survey, Delft University of Technology and Bristol University.

Since the end of his PhD studies Alexandre has been employed as a Research Associate at the  Sydney Institute of Agriculture & School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Australia.

Alexandre has made an impressive contribution to Pedometrics.  He has published 23 papers (at the time of nomination), and was lead author and animator of a recent innovative paper on contemporary problems in Pedometrics which has just been accepted by Geoderma.  His 2019 paper Efficient sampling for geostatistical surveys  (European Journal of Soil Science, 70, 975-989) was in the top 5 most downloaded papers in that journal for 2019.

Alexandre’s interests are wide, encompassing geostatistics, sampling, machine learning and spectroscopy.  He is also interested in the philosophy and history of soil science, and has brought the skills of the philosopher to bear on pedometrical methodology in his critical evaluation of the epistemological status of machine learning.  His approach to problems is original and critical, and also practical.  He produces tools and software to be used by others, he is lead author of a recent book on inference from soil spectra in the R environment.

Alexandre is already involved in supervising postgraduate students, and has significant teaching experience from Wageningen and elsewhere.  He has served the Pedometrics community as editor of Pedometron since 2018, and manager of the Pedometrics Twitter account, and is an advisory editorial board member at Geoderma.

In short, Alexandre is a worthy winner of the Margaret Oliver Award with a quality and quantity of output which a scientist with significantly more post-doctoral years would be proud to acknowledge.  The awards committee congratulate him, and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Alexandre was nominated for the award by Budiman Minasny, Alex McBratney, Gerard Heuvelink, Dick Brus and Titia Mulder. 

Murray Lark

University of Nottingham

7th April 2021.