Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 13
Donald Sparks named Distinguished Professor of Soil Sciences

     Donald L. Sparks, chairperson of the Department of Plant and Soil
Sciences, has been named a Distinguished Professor of Soil Sciences in
recognition of his distinguished service as a teacher and scholar.
     Sparks earned both his bachelor's degree in agronomy and his
master's in soil science from the University of Kentucky, and he
received his doctorate in soil science in 1979 from Virginia
Polytechnic Institute.
     He joined the University as an assistant professor of plant
science in 1979, became an associate professor in 1983 and a full
professor in 1987. He served as assistant chairperson of the
department from 1984-85 and was named chairperson of the Department of
Plant and Soil Sciences in 1989.
     Sparks said one area of his work that is especially meaningful is
the advising of graduate students. Two of his doctoral advisees have
won the Emil Truog Science Award given by the Soil Science Society of
America for outstanding dissertations, and others of his advisees have
won national fellowships from the Potassium Phosphorous Institute.
     The author or editor of 14 books and 24 chapters in books, Sparks
is a prolific writer who also has had articles published in more than
70 scholarly journals, and he is a sought-after lecturer at numerous
symposia across the United States and abroad. He currently serves on
the editorial boards of five publications.
     The recipient of more than $2 million in research grants and
contracts from a number of governmental, academic and industrial
sources, Sparks focuses his research on the kinetics and
thermodynamics of soil chemistry processes, surface chemistry of soils
and soil components, physical chemistry of soil potassium and,
recently, on organic pollutant interactions on clay minerals.
     Initial funding for this position comes from gifts to the
University from the A. Palmer Corey family in Bridgeville, Del., and
from Mildred M. Meredith of Newburgh, N.Y., who made a gift in memory
of her late husband, John, who was a member of the University's class
of 1919 in agriculture. It is anticipated that friends of agriculture
will make contributions to this fund in the future.
     The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Sparks received the
University of Delaware Sigma Xi Distinguished Scientist Award in 1982.
A year later, he was cited by the International Potash Institute for
his outstanding research on soil potassium. In 1985, he was recipient
of the American Society of Agronomy's Visiting Scientist Award, and in
1986, he received the Research Award from the Northeastern Branch of
the American Society of Agronomy.
     In 1987, Sparks was elected to chair the Soil Chemistry Division
of the Soil Science Society of America. In 1989, he was named a fellow
of both the American Society of Agronomy and the Soil Science Society
of America, the most prestigious honors given by both societies. In
1991, he received the F.D. Chester Distinguished Performance Award
from the College of Agricultural Sciences and the M.L. and Chrystie M.
Jackson Soil Science Award from the Soil Science Society of America.
     In November, he received the Research Award from the Soil Science
Society of America.
     Sparks has served as a consultant for the DuPont Co., U.S. Borax
Co., Research Triangle Institute, Bikini Atoll Rehabilitation
Committee and the Department of Energy.