Messenger - Vol. 4, No. 1, Page 13 1994 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.