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Flury protects crops, environment as first Gaylon S. Campbell Distinguished Professor

Researcher and teacher Markus Flury, center, is the new Gaylon S. Campbell Distinguished Professor

For generations, scientists at Washington State University have studied how water, soil and air interact to produce healthy crops and communities and a thriving environment.

Markus Flury continues that work as the first Gaylon S. Campbell Distinguished Professor.

As Distinguished Professor, Flury will build on retired WSU professor Campbell’s research and teaching legacy to refine our understanding of how plants interact with their environment. This knowledge will ultimately improve the way we raise crops for biofuels, food, and fiber.

“A better understanding of how plants, water, soil, air and energy interact will have long-term implications for our ecosystem and our survival on this planet,” said Flury.

The professorship was created in January 2018 to honor the 27-year career of Campbell, a former faculty member renowned for his contributions to soil and environmental physics.

At WSU, Campbell wrote textbooks that make mathematical tools more accessible to biologists, an invaluable resource for students, professors and professional scientists.

Campbell retired from the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences in 1998 to join his family’s company, producing devices that measure soil and environmental conditions for biological studies. His work lives on in the achievements of the hundreds of students he mentored and inspired, and in the WSU scientists who continue his research.

Among them is Flury. Based at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center, he studies the physics of soil and water in the vadose zone — the region between the ground’s surface and the water table.

The 2017 recipient of the Soil Science Society of America’s Don and Betty Kirkham Soil Physics Award, Flury also teaches environmental soil physics to graduate students at WSU Pullman.

The Campbell family’s endowment will support Flury’s work for three years.

“It is inspiring that the work my father loves will be remembered through further, important scientific work at WSU,” said Tamsin Jolley, Gaylon’s daughter, and one of the founders of the endowment.

“Markus has done wonderful work at WSU, and is most deserving of the support this endowment brings,” said Campbell, who was part of the committee that hired Flury. “He will be carrying on with my name on his research. I hope that will be useful.”

“It’s a great honor to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Campbell,” said Flury.

  • Learn more about the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences here.