Craig Rasmussen

Dr Craig Rasmussen

I joined the SWES department in January of 2005 and established the Environmental Pedology program after finishing my dissertation in Soils and Biogeochemistry at the University of California, Davis.  Prior to returning to graduate school, I worked as a soil scientist and GIS specialist at a vineyard consulting firm in the Napa Valley of California, working extensively with wine makers and vineyard managers to understand the role of soil and its interactions with the environment in producing high quality wines and table grapes.  
I have greatly enjoyed my time at the University of Arizona and being part of the diverse and dynamic SWES Department in particular.  Part of my recent departmental responsibilities included leading the redesign and modernization of the SWES webpage
( The Environmental Pedology Group
( is mainly focused on research activities that fall within the category of Critical Zone Science – which is science involving the near-surface zone featuring interactions of rock, soil, water, air, and living organisms – with an emphasis on soil-forming processes and the importance of soils for ecosystem functions and biogeochemical cycles. The pedology research program spans a broad range of topics including: 1) organic and inorganic carbon cycling, with a focus on mineral weathering processes and the interaction of organic materials with mineral surfaces; 2) soil development control of soil-water dynamics and ecosystem response to climate change; 3) digital soil mapping; and 4) energy-based modeling of pedogenesis and ecosystem function.  
Many of the active research projects in the Environmental Pedology laboratory are collaborative in nature and integrate related, but traditionally separate, fields of study such as pedology, microbiology, geomorphology, soil physics, and climatology. For example we are involved in several NSF-sponsored projects examining how organic materials and the microbial community interact with minerals and metals in the soil environment to protect organic matter from decomposition.
My main teaching responsibilities include the Soil Genesis course
(SWES 431/531), taught every fall semester, which is focused on basic principles of soil genesis and soil-forming processes, description of soil properties in the field and laboratory, and soil classification using Soil Taxonomy; and Advanced Soil Genesis (SWES 541), a graduate class focused on models of soil formation, mineral weathering, and using soils to understand current and past environments.  
My main teaching responsibilities include the Soil Genesis course