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The Ohio State University Alumni Association honors extraordinary alumni

Rattan Lal, Ohio State Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science, has earned the 2019 Alumni Medalist Award for his revolutionary contributions to the understanding of earth’s most basic, life-giving resources.

Having earned his PhD in agronomy in 1968, Lal was nominated for the highest honor presented to a university graduate for his work on two areas of global concern: managing soil to minimize the risks of degradation so as to sustain food production, and restoring the health of degraded and damaged soil.

Lal, whose internationally recognized work spans five decades, foresaw potential negative effects of 1950s- and 60s-era agricultural methods, and sought to counteract them with conservation agriculture and no-till farming to enable crop growth without the soil disturbance.

He also pioneered the concept of restoring soil by improving the concentration of its organic carbon, ultimately leading to the significant reduction of land necessary for cereal production.

This work was described as “the most promising option to restore soil health, advance food and nutritional security, sustain production and improve the environment” by Lal’s nominator, Jeff Sharp, director of Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Lal will be recognized tonight (Friday, Sept. 20) at the Fawcett Center during the program’s 61st year of awarding graduates who have brought extraordinary honor to Ohio State.

Additional award recipients include:

  • Dan L. Heinlen Award: Lori J. Herman (BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2000)
  • Diversity Champion Award: Quinn Capers IV (MD, Medicine, 1991)
  • Josephine Sitterle Failer Award: Amy Wittmann (BS, Elementary Education, 1980)
  • Archie M. Griffin Professional Achievement Award: Paul C. Stromberg (BS, Zoology, 1967; PhD, Parasitology, 1973; DVM, Veterinary Medicine, 1978)
  • William Oxley Thompson Award: Naomi Adaniya (Master, Public Health, 2010; MA, Geography, 2013; PhD, Public Health, 2016)
  • Ralph Davenport Mershon Award: Shelley Graf (BS, Physical Therapy, 1983)
  • Robert M. Duncan Alumni Citizenship Award: Herbert C. Robinson (BS, Industrial and Systems Engineering, 1977)
  • E. Gordon Gee Spirit of Ohio State Award: Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps

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