Joann Whalen

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James McGill Professor

T: 514-398-7943  | joann.whalen [at] (Email) |  Macdonald-Stewart Building, MS2-069  |  Website  |   LinkedIn


BSc (Agr) (Dalhousie University)
MSc (McGill University)
PhD (Ohio State University)

Short Bio

Joann K. Whalen is a Professor and James McGill Professor at McGill University and an Adjunct Professor with the Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from Ohio State University (USA) and worked as a research scientist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada prior to joining the faculty at McGill. Dr. Whalen is also a professional agronomist (agronome) in Quebec, Canada. Her research focuses on the soil fertility and soil ecological health of agroecosystems. She has published more than 225 peer-reviewed scientific publications and supervised/co-supervised more than 60 students at the M.Sc. and Ph.D. levels. She teaches courses in soil fertility, nutrient management planning and soil ecology. Dr. Whalen is senior author of the textbook "Soil Ecology and Management" published in 2010 by CABI Publishers and editor of “Soil Fertility Improvement and Integrated Nutrient Management: a Global Perspective”, an open-access e-book published in 2012 that presents 15 invited chapters written by leading soil fertility experts from more than 20 countries. Dr. Whalen was elected President of the American Society of Agronomy in 2021.

Awards and Recognitions

2021 Incoming President-Elect of the American Society of Agronomy (from 2022-2025).
2020-2027. James McGill Professor, McGill University.
2019. Fellow, Canadian Society of Soil Science
2019. Recipient, Prix Auguste Scott from Association québecoise de spécialistes en science du sol
2017. Fellow, Soil Science Society of America
2016-2018. Three-year term as President-Elect, President and Past-President of the Canadian Society of Soil Science.
2011-present. Adjunct Professor, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin, China.
2011. Outstanding Associate Editor, Agronomy Journal.
2010-2020. William Dawson Scholar, McGill University.
2010. Research fellowship, OECD Co-operative Research Programme: Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems.
2006. Top referee award, Soil Biology and Biochemistry.

Active Affiliations

  1. Soil Biology and Biochemistry: Subject Editor (2010-2015), Associate Chief Editor (2016), Chief Editor (2017-2020).
  2. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems: member of the Editorial Board (2020-2022).
  3. Pedosphere: Guest Editor for Special Issue on “Earthworms in soil ecology and organic waste management” (2018-2020).
  4. Applied Energy: Guest Editor for Special Issue on “Sustainable biofuel production from forestry, agricultural and waste biomass feedstocks” (2016-2017) and Subject Editor (2017-2023)
  5. Frontiers in Agroecology and Land Use Systems: Review Editor (2015-2019)
  6. Agronomy Journal: Associate Editor (2009-2014).
  7. Canadian Journal of Soil Science: Associate Editor (2007-2009), Special Issues Editor (2009-2011), Editor (2012-2014), Guest Editor for Special Issues on “Soil Interfaces for Sustainable Development”, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Sources and Sinks in Canadian Agro-Ecosystems” (2015-2017), and “Biochar Amendments for Sustainable Soil Management” (2020-2021)

Research Interests

Soils support life – they are the medium in which food is grown to feed people and animals. Soil is alive – it is the home to billions of microscopic and macroscopic creatures that form a rich, diverse foodweb with capacity to sustain ecological health. The Soil Ecology group at McGill makes discoveries about the hidden life of the soil, and suggests methods of agricultural management that rely on the natural functions of soil biota to produce food in a manner that is economically sound and environmentally friendly.

Current Research

Our research focuses on how agricultural management practices affect the soil biological, chemical and physical processes that govern nutrient cycles in the soil-plant system. The goal is to identify sustainable agricultural practices, such as those that improve nutrient use efficiency by crops, increase soil carbon pools, reduce N and P leaching from soils, and reduce N2O emissions from soil.

Current Projects

  1. Biotic controls on the residence time of soil carbon and nitrogen: new understanding from alternative agroecosystems
  2. Biological promoters of crop growth and the soil microbiome in agroecosystems. Best management practices for fertilizer and manure management, to optimize the soil nutrient supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Agricultural value of organic residuals from industries and municipalities.
  4. Earthworm-microbial interactions affecting crop production and greenhouse gas emissions from temperate agroecosystems.
  5. Fundamental research towards a better understanding of the spatio-temporal dynamics in the soil-plant-atmosphere-water continuum.


SOIL 315 Soil Nutrient Management 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

SOIL 535 Soil Ecology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


View a list of current publications

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