Most prestigious title of Distinguished Professor awarded to Leo Condron

29 April 2024 | News

Professor of Biogeochemistry, Professor Leo Condron, has been awarded the University’s most prestigious title of Distinguished Professor.

Reserved for only four academics at any one time, the title of Distinguished Professor pays tribute to leadership of the highest order in research and education at an institutional, national and international level.

The honour has been conferred on Professor Condron in recognition of his world-class leadership and international eminence in his field of soil phosphorus dynamics and the interplay with organic phosphorus.

Joining Lincoln University in 1992, Professor Condron has continuously maintained a substantial teaching portfolio, and to date has supervised 110 postgraduate students from 21 countries (including 60 PhD students), as well as mentored and supervised 13 postdoctoral fellows. He has also acted as course examiner, served on a number of University committees and panels, and was the Academic Coordinator for the Bachelor of Agriculture and Agricultural Science degrees for 18 years.

His research has focused on investigating the biogeochemistry of organic carbon and major nutrients in natural and managed ecosystems, with an emphasis on the nature, dynamics and bioavailability of organic and mineral forms of phosphorus in the soil-plant system in relation to soil management and land use.

Professor Condron explains, “Together with nitrogen, phosphorus is the most important nutrient that determines the productivity of all natural and managed ecosystems on earth.

“Phosphorus is a finite resource, and New Zealand imports large quantities of phosphorus to sustain primary production. However only a small proportion of the phosphorus applied in fertiliser each year is taken up by plants, while most accumulates in soil as residual or legacy phosphorus, which means that repeated inputs are required to maintain plant growth.

“My research has mainly focused on investigating the fundamental processes that determine the fate of phosphorus in soil-plant system, with the aim of improving the efficiency with which phosphorus inputs are utilised in agriculture. This has principally involved assessing and quantifying the short- and long-term impacts of variations in nutrient inputs, land use/vegetation, land management practices, and environmental conditions on soil phosphorus transformations, plant acquisition and mobility.

“This research has highlighted the importance of biological processes in determining phosphorus availability and utilisation in soil, and how these can be employed to improve phosphorus use efficiency and thereby lower phosphorus inputs required to maintain productivity.”

During his career, Professor Condron has developed and maintained an extensive network of research partnerships in Aotearoa and internationally, including collaborations with researchers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.

Since publishing his first paper in 1985, Professor Condron has published 314 articles, contributed more than 50 papers in leading science journals, authored or co-authored 15 book chapters and delivered to two major reports on the status of New Zealand soils for the United Nations.

He has been a Fellow of the New Zealand Society of Soil Science since 2008 and a Fellow of the British Society of Soil Science since 2015.

In the 2023 Best Scientist Rankings for Plan Science and Agronomy he was ranked first among New Zealand scientists and 183rd internationally. Based on SCOPUS citation data collated up to 2020, he was the number two ranked New Zealand soil scientist in the Agronomy and Agriculture category.

Distinguished Professor Leo Condron