Hornbuckle, Brian

Dr. Brian Hornbuckle grew up in Shenandoah. After graduating from Brown University, he taught high school chemistry and physics in Clarksdale, MS, as a member of the Mississippi Teacher Corps. As a graduate student at the University of Michigan he earned degrees in electrical engineering and atmospheric science. He has been at Iowa State since 2003. Besides working in the Department of Agronomy, he holds courtesy appointments in the Departments of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He teaches courses in environmental physics, conducts research on the use of remote sensing in agricultural systems, and mentors both undergraduate and graduate students.   Dr. Hornbuckle is the Director of Graduate Education for Agricultural Meteorology, a member of the department’s advisory council, and represents the department on the Iowa State Faculty Senate. He and his wife Jalene have three children and live in Nevada.

Cruse, Richard

Richard Cruse is a professor in the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University and Director of the Iowa Water Center where he has research, teaching, administration and Extension responsibilities.  Cruse served as President for the National Institutes for Water Resources from 2015 – 2016.

His program involves field and modeling research in soil erosion, soil management, and soil physical properties while he maintains cooperative research projects with the Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. These cooperative projects address the soil erosion and soil management effects on soil physical properties. He also teaches Advanced Soil Management in the Iowa State University Agronomy Graduate program; meets with diverse audiences to address soil management, soil erosion, and water quality issues; and administers the Iowa Water Center, one of the nation’s Water Resources Water Resource Units.

Sauer, Thomas

Tom Sauer

I am a native of southwestern Minnesota, being raised on a typical Midwestern family farm. My degrees in soil science are from the University of Wisconsin-Steven Point and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I joined the USDA Agricultural Research Service in 1993. My current research focus is on soil organic carbon dynamics and greenhouse gas production in agroecosystems. These efforts include studies on the effects of land use change and in particular agroforestry as climate change adaptation and mitigation practices. I serve as Research Leader of the Soil, Water and Air Resources Research Unit at the National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment.

Manu, Andrew

I serve as George Washington Carver Endowed Chair and Professor-in-Charge of the Carver Scholarships and Academy in pursuant of Iowa State’s commitment to transformative research, teaching and outreach in the plant and soil sciences. My position is dedicated to the memory of George Washington Carver who was born into slavery, but went on to become one of the most prominent scientists and inventors of his time, and one of Iowa State’s most accomplished graduates. This position honors his commitment to create a nurturing environment for students regardless of gender, social status, class, or race.

I have a passion for introducing students from various disciplines to soil science and soil management. I teach soil science courses for agronomists, horticulturists, those who plan to apply soil science in managing urban development, and students who just have a keen interest in it. My goal is to lay a foundation for their quest to develop sustainable natural resource management systems. I do this through a student-centered instructional approach that puts students in charge of their own learning.

My research agenda focuses on pedology and remote sensing. I have developed an unmanned aerial systems research initiative for precision agriculture, landscape dynamics, soil digital mapping, and assessment of urban pollution. My research activities aim to advance drone technology applications in agriculture and environment and natural resources management in the U.S. and in the developing world.

Castellano, Michael

Research focuses on biogeochemical cycling and transport within the soil as it extends to the atmosphere and subsoil. Our ultimate objective is to maximize sustainable productivity of agricultural systems. We have particular interest in nitrogen because nitrogen frequently limits production and is easily lost from agricultural systems to the surrounding environment, where it represents an economic loss to farmers that can diminish air and water quality. Minimizing nitrogen limitation on crop production while maximizing nitrogen retention within agricultural systems is among the most important global research priorities of the 21st century. To reach these goals we use agronomic, ecological, and biogeochemical principles to advance our basic understanding of element cycling and improve ecosystem management.

Mallarino, Antonio

The research and extension program focuses on developing cost-effective and environmentally sound nutrient management practices for cropping systems. Emphasis is on P, K, micronutrients, lime, and manure P management for conservation tillage systems including calibration of soil and plant tissue tests, fertilizer and manure placement methods, impacts of nutrient management on soil and phosphorus water quality, development of P loss risk assessment tools, and use of precision agriculture technologies. The program has integrated conventional field-plot and laboratory research with innovative on-farm research and demonstrations utilizing precision agriculture technologies, and it is developed in cooperation with producers, agribusiness, and extension agronomists. The extension effort involves outreach to producers and agribusiness, training of field extension agronomists, co-responsibility for establishing Extension nutrient management guidelines, and teaching continuing education courses.

Horton, Robert

Robert Horton is a Distinguished Professor in the Agronomy Department at Iowa State University. His program addresses soil physical processes and soil physical properties, with a focus on coupled heat and mass transfer in soil.  His fundamental work on coupled heat and mass transfer in soil has greatly enhanced understanding of the role of soils in the following topic areas: climatology (the importance of surface energy partitioning); water quality (the impacts of soil water and chemical movement); agricultural production (the impact of the soil environment on seed and root functions); ecosystem products and services (the impact of the soil environment on microbial function and gas exchange); and environmental investigations (thermal and mass flow methods for remediation of soil pollution).  His singular contributions include a comprehensive theory of coupled heat, water and chemical transfer in soil, quantifying in situ unsaturated soil hydraulic conductivity and dynamic subsurface water evaporation, and devising and validating a method to control fertilizer nitrogen leaching.  To reach these goals his program includes laboratory and field measurements, sensor development, theory development, and numerical modeling.


Graduated Magna cum laude, Texas A&M University (1975)
Outstanding technical reviewer for the Soil and Water Division of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (1989)
Raymond and Mary Baker Agronomic Excellence Award (1989)
Iowa State University Foundation Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Research (1990)
Elected Chairman of Soil Physics Division of the Soil Science Society of America (1993)
Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy (1993)
Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America (1994)
Appointed Chairman of the Soil Science Faculty Committee at ISU (1995-2002)
Appointed to Agronomy Department Head’s Advisory Council (1995-2002)
Superior Paper Award of the American Society of Agricultural Engineers (1997)
Soil Science Research Award of the Soil Science Society of America (2001)
Don and Betty Kirkham Soil Physics Award of the Soil Science Society of America (2002)
CampbellLecturer, Washington State University (2004)
Frontiers of Hydrologic Sciences Lecturer, American Geophysics Union (2005)
Selected as Distinguished Professor, Iowa State University (2006)
Honorary Professor at China Agricultural University (2007)
Rossmann-Manatt Faculty Development Award, ISU (2009)
Senior Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010)
Pioneer Hi-Bred Professor of Agronomy, ISU (2010-2013)
Kingenta Agricultural Science Award from the American Society of Agronomy (2012)
USDA Multistate Research Excellence Award for W-4188 (2021)
Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2022)

Burras, C. Lee

I contribute to ISU through teaching, advising, and research. I work on-campus, around Iowa & internationally. As a teacher and adviser I seek to foster scientific understanding, career preparedness and lifelong learning. My research examines natural soil formation, human-induced soil transformations, and inherent soil productivity. I share my findings through scholarly journal articles, soil survey interpretations, professional reports and outreach presentations.

I joined the Department of Agronomy in 1995 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor and Professor in 2001 and 2007, respectively.  I was awarded Morrill Professor in 2020.   I came to ISU from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, where I was an Assistant Professor (1990 to 1995).

Selected Awards

  • The Milkman Family Mentorship Award, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Student Council, 2022
  • Faculty Escort at Commencement for Student Marshal Payten Watson, 2022.
  • Team Award (Uganda Program), College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, 2020
  • Senior Marshal, Iowa State University, 2017
  • Team Award (Master Gardener Program), College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, 2016
  • Patriotic Employer, Secretary of the Department of Defense – Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve, 2015
  • Dean’s Citation for Extraordinary Contributions, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, 2013
  • Women in Agronomy Mentoring, ASA-CSSA-SSSA, 2012
  • Excellence in University Teaching, USDA, 2011
  • Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching, ISU, 2010
  • Soil Science Resident Education, SSSA, 2009
  • Agronomy Resident Education, ASA, 2008
  • Excellence in Academic Advising, ISU, 2007