Rodale Institute Welcomes New Chief Scientist, Dr. Kristine Nichols

(Kutztown, PA, July 8, 2014) Rodale Institute, a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, today announced that Dr. Kristine Nichols is the new Chief Scientist and began July 7th.

Raised on a conventional farm in southwestern Minnesota, Dr. Nichols is a leader in the study of soil biology, particularly mycorrhizal fungi.  The term ‘mycorrhizal’ refers to a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant.  The presence of mycorrhizal fungi in a plant’s root system is an indication of good soil and plant health.

Prior to joining the Institute, Dr. Nichols was a Research Soil Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for 11 years.  Her professional achievements have focused on the impacts of cropping and grazing systems on soil microbiology, nutrient cycling, and soil aggregation to improve soil health and water quality.

Dr. Nichols has received several awards, including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.  Listed in the "Top 40 under 40" by North Dakota Business Watch magazine, she was recognized as "a leader in the movement to rebuild the health of our soils for the sustainability of global food production."

“Rodale Institute has led the movement toward healthy, living soil for over 65 years.  As Chief Scientist, I will conduct research and develop best methods of regenerative organic agriculture which can be replicated across the world.  I am honored to join Rodale Institute, where the work can have this level of impact,” said Dr. Nichols.

As Chief Scientist, Dr. Nichols will take the lead on all Rodale Institute research projects; act as the scientific voice for the Institute as she travels worldwide; and help create a vision for the future of food and farming.  She will also represent Rodale Institute at conferences and make presentations domestically and internationally.

“Dr. Nichols’ deep understanding of life in the soil is built on years of study and exemplary research.  Her role will be central to the work of Rodale Institute, where we continuously work to illuminate the interconnection of healthy soil to healthy food, and ultimately, to healthy people,” says Executive Director ‘Coach’ Mark Smallwood. “She is a most welcome addition to our team.”

Since its founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30% higher. This year, 2014, marks the 34th year of the trial. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock.



Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For more than sixty years, we’ve been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.

2 Responses to “Rodale Institute Welcomes New Chief Scientist, Dr. Kristine Nichols”

  1. Karan Manral

    I was interested in knowing if there is an online soil biology course planned in the near future at Rodale (perhaps by Dr Nichols) or if perhaps she might point me to one (from another institution) that is useful.


    • megan

      Hi Karan, We are working on developing an online soil course and are hoping to roll something out in 2015. Keep an eye on our website for details!


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