John Galbraith

Associate Professor


Ph.D., Soil Science, Cornell University, 1997

M.S., Range Science, Texas Tech University, 1983

B.S., Range and Wildlife Management, Texas Tech University, 1978


2005 - Present - Associate Professor, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

1999 - 2005 - Assistant Professor, Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech

1998 - 1999 - Post-Doctoral Associate, Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida

1997 - 1998 - Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Crop, Soil, and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University

1990 - 1997 - Research Support Specialist, Department of Crop, Soil, and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University

1987 - 1990 - Supervisory Soil Scientist, USDA-SCS, Havre, Mont.

1983 - 1987 - Soil Scientist, USDA-SCS, Pearsall and Kenedy, Texas

1977 - 1979 - Range Conservationist, USDA-SCS, Menard and Andrews, Texas

Link to curriculum vita

Courses Taught

  • CSES 3114 - Soils (30%, Fall)
  • CSES 3144 - Soil Description and Interpretation (Fall)
  • CSES/ENSC 4134 - Soil Genesis and Classification (Spring)
  • CSES 4174 - Soil Description and Sampling(Spring)
  • CSES/ENSC 4854 - Wetland Soils and Mitigation (Fall)
  • CSES 5854 - Advanced Wetland Soils (60%, Fall, odd years)
  • CSES 5864 - Advanced Wetland Soils and Mitigation, Online (Summer, even years)

Other Teaching and Advising

  • I offer undergraduate research and advise the Soil Judging Club.
  • I coach the Soil Judging Team
  • I developed and update the ENSC Wetland Science Minor

Program Focus

My research focuses on soil resource inventory, wetland mapping, wetland hydrology, morphology of hydric soils, hydric soil indicator research, soil health and carbon measurement, and soil sampling/classification for research. I assist multiple graduate students in their soils research with tools, techniques, and expertise in soil science and soil sampling. I do Soil Information extension through training and publication. I contribute to development of the Universal Soil Classification System and US Soil Taxonomy to include Human-altered and Human-transported soils.

Role of Graduate Students

My graduate students are involved in mapping, detecting, and monitoring wetlands; soil genesis and classification; carbon sequestration; and measuring changes in soil properties. I serve on committees of students involved with wetlands, carbon sequestration, wetland restoration, biochar, and aggregate stability.

Future Research

Future graduate students will study soil health, urban soil systems, wetland soils, and soil genesis in human-transported soil materials.


Extension Program

John is a licensed professional soil scientist and qualified as professional wetland delineator. He offers training sessions in soil certification exams, basic soil functions, health, and properties, redox features, soil features that indicate water-restrictive layers, wetland soils, hydric soils and wetland delineation. He is liaison to the Virginia Association of Professional Soil Scientists and instructs at two professional meetings each year. John involves students in professional society meetings. John is a member of the VDH Sewage Handling and Disposal Advisory Committee. He is co-founder and involved with VIP-COI (Virginia Indian Pre-College Outreach Initiative) at Virginia Tech and is a member of the Native@VT student organization. John is the NRCS liaison in Virginia. He led the first two-week digital soil correlation training class for NRCS employees. He hosts the Soil Taxonomy Forum website for NRCS. John participates actively in the Mid-Atlantic Hydric Soils Committee, has helped develop new hydric soil indicators. John is an ex-officio Board Member of Assoc. of State Wetland Managers and is a co-founder of the Wetland Mapping Consortium. He was chair of the Intern. Comm. for Anthropogenic Soils (ICOMANTH) for 20 years and chair and web host for Commission 1.4 Soil Classification for International Union Soil Sciences. John is a member of international working groups developing a universal soil classification system and a working group writing a simplified illustrated version of Soil Taxonomy. Extension philosophy I conduct extension work through training sessions, webinars, videos, speaking at meetings, publication, and by aiding others to obtain and correctly use soil survey data for food production. My philosophy is to look for those who most need my experience, help and advice and who are least able to gain that help elsewhere. My goal is to help the people and the environmental quality of the Commonwealth of Virginia and to assist international and indigenous groups gain the information they need to produce food and fiber while maintaining environmental and natural resource quality. Links


John Galbraith
  • (540) 231-9784
  • 185 Ag Quad Lane
    239 Smyth Hall
    Blacksburg, Virginia