VOLUME 17 #2

Current cover


Presidential award for soil scientist

David McNear
Photo by Danielle Quigley

ALUMNI | Soil scientist David McNear, AG ’06PhD, has won a prestigious Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor the federal government gives to scientists and engineers beginning their independent research careers.

After his graduate studies, McNear was a postdoctoral associate from 2006-07 in UD’s environmental soil chemistry research group headed by Donald L. Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Plant and Soil Sciences.

The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers was created in 1996 to honor and support young professionals at the outset of their research careers in science and technology. Eleven federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, NASA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, participate in the awards program.


McNear is an assistant professor of rhizosphere science in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

Sparks’ environmental soil chemistry research group has produced two other Presidential Early Career Award winners: Philip Jardine, AG ’83M, a research staff scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, earned the award in 1996, and Dan Strawn, AG ’99PhD, associate professor of soil chemistry and director of the environmental soil chemistry program at the University of Idaho, received it in 2003.

“The Sparks research group offers unique opportunities to go to national labs, be exposed to cutting-edge equipment, go to national and international meetings, give talks and network,” McNear says.



  • University of Delaware   •   Newark, DE 19716   •   USA   •   Phone: (302) 831-2792   •   © 2018