Diana Wall

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Diana Wall
Diana Wall portrait.jpeg
Diana Harrison Wall

(1943-12-27)December 27, 1943
DiedMarch 25, 2024(2024-03-25) (aged 80)
Alma mater University of Kentucky
Awards SCAR medal (2012)
Tyler Prize (2013)
Scientific career
Fields Soil ecology
Environmental science
Institutions Colorado State University
Website walllab.colostate.edu/

Diana Harrison Wall (December 27, 1943 – March 25, 2024) was an American environmental scientist and soil ecologist. She was the founding director of the School of Global Environmental Sustainability, [1] a distinguished biology professor, and senior research scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory at Colorado State University. Wall investigated ecosystem processes, soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. Her research focused on the Antarctic McMurdo Dry Valleys and its Wall Valley was named after her. Wall was a globally recognized leader and speaker on life in Antarctica and climate change. [2] [3] [4]


Early life and education

Diana Wall was born on December 27, 1943, [5] in Durham, North Carolina. [6] Her formative years were spent in Lexington, Kentucky, where she graduated from Lafayette High School. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology from the University of Kentucky in 1965. [6] Her interest in nematodes began during her undergraduate studies when she worked on nematode parasites in horses and birds. She completed her PhD in plant pathology from the University of Kentucky in 1971. [7]

Career and impact

Wall began work as a postdoctoral researcher at University of California-Riverside in 1972 where she researched the function and biological diversity of soil ecosystems. [7] In 1976 she began work in the Department of Nematology as an Assistant Research Nematologist. She continued to work at UC Riverside for a further seventeen years before becoming a Professor in the Department of Nematology. Throughout this period, she was the Associate Director of the Drylands Research Institute from 1986 to 1988 and the Associate Program Director of the National Science Foundation in Washington, DC, from 1988 to 1989. [8]

Wall began working at Colorado State University in 1993. At this time, she became a Professor in the Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Watershed Stewardship (until 2006), the Associate Dean for Research in the Natural Resources College (until 2000) and the Director of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory (until 2005). [7] Wall became a Professor in the Department of Biology at CSU in 2006 and was key in establishing the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at CSU in 2008. [9]

Wall began working in Antarctica's Dry Valleys in 1989. [10] She conducted long-term soil ecology research in the region, drawing links between soil process and diversity to environmental conditions. Wall described invertebrate soil communities in the Dry Valleys of Victoria Land and devised some of the first models of habitat suitability for specific invertebrate species in the Dry Valleys. [11]

Wall served as president of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, the Ecological Society of America, [12] the Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, and the Society of Nematologists. Wall was also the Chair of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents in 2003. [13] She was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018. [14]

Awards and honors

Wall Valley, Antarctica Wall Valley Antarctica.png
Wall Valley, Antarctica

Wall received the 2012 Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, [15] the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research President's Medal for Excellence in Antarctic Research, [16] [17] and the Soil Ecology Society Professional Achievement Award. [8]

Wall was named a Fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program in 1999. She was selected as the 2012 Tansley Lecturer of the British Ecological Society. [3] [18]

Wall was awarded the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement in 2013 [7] and was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2014. [19] [20] She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences [21] and named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014. [21] Wall was awarded University College Dublin's highest honour, the Ulysses Medal, in 2015. [4]

Wall Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica was named for her due to her extensive research on soil biology, including spending 13 field seasons there at the time of the naming. [22] [23]

Other activities

Wall chaired the DIVERSITAS-International Biodiversity Observation (2001–2002) and the Global Litter Invertebrate Decomposition Experiment. [24] She also co-chaired the Millennium Development Goals Committee of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the AAAS panel for the What We Know initiative from 2013 to 2014. [25] Wall was a member of one of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) working groups and a member of the UNESCO International Hydrological Program US National Committee. She was a board member of the Island Press and the World Resources Institute. [20]

Wall died on March 25, 2024. [10] [26]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">McMurdo Dry Valleys</span> Snow-free valleys in Antarctica

The McMurdo Dry Valleys are a row of largely snow-free valleys in Antarctica, located within Victoria Land west of McMurdo Sound. The Dry Valleys experience extremely low humidity and surrounding mountains prevent the flow of ice from nearby glaciers. The rocks here are granites and gneisses, and glacial tills dot this bedrock landscape, with loose gravel covering the ground. It is one of the driest places on Earth and is sometimes claimed to have not seen rain in nearly two million years, though this is highly unlikely and several anecdotal accounts of rainfall within the Dry Valleys exist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lake Vida</span> A hypersaline, permanently ice-covered lake in Antarctica

Lake Vida is a hypersaline lake in Victoria Valley, the northernmost of the large McMurdo Dry Valleys, on the continent of Antarctica. It is isolated under year-round ice cover, and is considerably more saline than seawater. It came to public attention in 2002 when microbes frozen in its ice cover for more than 2,800 years were successfully thawed and reanimated.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gene Likens</span> American ecologist

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Charles Priscu</span>

John C. Priscu, is a Romanian-American scientist who is the current Professor of Ecology in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University. He is a principal investigator in the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) project.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Antarctic microorganism</span>

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Deneb Karentz is full-time faculty, professor, and chair of the Biology Department at University of San Francisco. Her research focuses on the ultraviolet photobiology of marine organisms and understanding their strategies for protection from UV exposure, particularly in relation to the ecological implications of Antarctic ozone depletion.

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  2. Handy, Ryan Maye (April 29, 2014). "Diana Wall: A research star is born star in Antarctica". The Coloradoan. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Tansley Lecture". www.britishecologicalsociety.org. British Ecological Society. Archived from the original on May 26, 2016. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  4. 1 2 Jeracki, Kate (June 16, 2015). "UDP Diana Wall receives 2015 Ulysses Medal". Colorado State University . Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  5. "Diana H. Wall". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  6. 1 2 "Diana H. Wall". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on March 24, 2019.
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  8. 1 2 "Diana Harrison Wall" (PDF). Colorado State University. July 22, 2021.
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  10. 1 2 Olsen, Nik (March 26, 2024). "Diana Wall, groundbreaking soil ecologist who left a lifetime legacy at Colorado State University". Colorado State University News. Retrieved March 29, 2024.
  11. Porazinska, Dorota L.; Wall, Diana H.; Virginia, Ross A. (August 2002). "Invertebrates in ornithogenic soils on Ross Island, Antarctica". Polar Biology. 25 (8): 569–574. Bibcode:2002PoBio..25..569P. doi:10.1007/s00300-002-0386-7.
  12. White, Sally (March 14, 2016). "Diana Wall, Soil Ecologist". Ecological Society of America.
  13. "President's Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Antarctic Science Diana Wall". Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research. July 2012.
  14. Guiden, Mary (May 2018). "Soil ecologist Diana Wall named to National Academy of Sciences". Colorado State University.
  15. Cook, Andrea (September 28, 2012). "Colorado ecologist awarded 2012 Mines Medalist". Rapid City Journal. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  16. "President's Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Antarctic Science" (PDF). scar.org. 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  17. Wall, Diana (2012). "Wall's Response to Receiving the SCAR Medal" (PDF). scar.org.
  18. "DIVERSITAS-International Biodiversity Observation Year(IBOY)". www.amazonia.org. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  19. Painter, Kristen Leigh (2014). "Colorado Women's Hall of Fame to induct class of 2014". Denver Post.
  20. 1 2 "Diana H. Wall, PhD". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  21. 1 2 "Diana Wall of Colorado State University elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences". Colorado State University. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
  22. "Wall Valley, Antarctica information". Soil Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning Lab. Department of Biology at Colorado State University. Archived from the original (web.archive.org) on July 2, 2019. Retrieved April 1, 2024.
  23. "Antarctica Detail: Antarctica ID: 18663". U.S. Geological Survey. Archived from the original (web.archive.org) on June 2, 2021. An upland valley next E of Priscu Valley in Olympus Range; Minotaur Pass is at the head between Apollo Peak and Mount Electra. The valley opens N to McKelvey Valley. Named by Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (US-ACAN) (2004) after Diana Wall, Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; U.S. Antarctic Project (USAP) soils biologist in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, 13 field seasons, 1989–2002.
  24. Wall, Diana H.; Bradford, Mark A.; St. John, Mark G.; Trofymow, John A.; Behan-Pelletier, Valerie; Bignell, David E.; Dangerfield, J. Mark; Parton, William J.; Rusek, Josef (November 1, 2008). "Global decomposition experiment shows soil animal impacts on decomposition are climate-dependent". Global Change Biology. 14 (11): 2661–2677. Bibcode:2008GCBio..14.2661W. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01672.x. ISSN   1365-2486. PMC   3597247 .
  25. "The Panel". What We Know. Retrieved May 31, 2016.
  26. Lyell, Kelly (March 27, 2024). "CSU professor Diana Wall, a leader in environmental science and sustainability, has died" . Coloradoan.