Mary Beth Adams
2011 Recipient of the Golden Auger Award
Dr. Mary Beth Adams serves with the USDA Forest Service as Research Soil Scientist with the Sustainable Forest Ecosystems in the Central Appalachians research unit at the Fernow Experimental Forest in Parsons, WV. Mary Beth is a nationally recognized research soil scientist who has examined effects of air pollution on forest ecosystems, nutrient cycling in forests, and sustainable productivity of forest soils. Mary Beth has served as associate editor on many professional journals, holds Adjunct Associate Professorship at West Virginia University, has served in Leadership positions in international forestry and soil science professional societies and committees, and continues to publish a multitude of articles associated with her important research.
In 2009, Mary Beth, who is a descendent of our 6th President, John Quincy Adams, was recognized as a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America at their annual meeting in Pittsburgh. This award is only given to 0.3 percent of the Society’s active and emeritus members. Other honors include the Forest Service Stewardship Award, the Environmental Award from the WV Forestry Association, the American Forest and Paper Association Wildlife Stewardship Achievement Award, and USDA Forest Service Chief’s Multicultural Award. This Multicultural Award was for her work with Howard University on air pollution from fossil fuels and its associated acid deposition.
Much of Mary Beth's research impacts us all in West Virginia. Her work has been centered on the effect of air pollution and acid deposition to Appalachian forests. She has worked on how the forest grows, how different forest harvesting techniques affect long term forest growth, and how forest harvesting effects surface water runoff. This forestry research culminates in forestry Best Management Practices.
Mary Beth's environmental interest started early in her home state of Indiana. Summers during high school, she worked for the Youth Conservation Corps at the Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge in south central Indiana. After high school, Mary Beth received her B.S. and M.S. in Forestry from Purdue University. It was at Purdue that she took her soil courses, and with the mentorship of professors at Purdue, acquired passion for the research side of science, and the scientific method.
Mary Beth continued on to her Ph.D work in Soil Science and Forestry at North Carolina State University.
She had many options open to her: Should she become a professor and teach? She had interviews with some of the top colleges, including Yale University. Or should she continue in research? Mary Beth is now part of the Research and Development section of the USDA Forest Service. This is the largest forestry research organization in the world, consisting of over 500 research scientists.
One of Mary Beth's favorite responsibilities was serving as manager of the Fernow Experimental Forest. The Forest Service manages a network of 81 Experimental Forests and Rangelands across the country. Mary Beth was one of the original team that, for the first time in Forest Service history, brought together the managers of all these experimental forests and rangelands, and created a chartered national working group to help advance long-term research on these national treasures, and provide a support group for scientists and managers of Experimental Forests and Ranges.
Mary Beth has always supported the WV Association of Professional Soil Scientists by being a contributing member, also as Secretary-Treasurer and Executive Board Member. The soil scientist community in West Virginia owes Mary Beth much for her treasury of work. Her research has culminated in many environmental applications here in West Virginia, and her research has impacted, and continues to impact, the knowledge of soils and forestry internationally.