Joann Whalen

Image by Alex Tran.

Professor; James McGill Professor

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


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 160 peer-reviewed scientific publications and supervised/co-supervised more than 50 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 Canadian Society of Soil Science in 2016.

Awards and Recognitions

2020-2027. James McGill Professor, McGill University.
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. 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” and “Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Sources and Sinks in Canadian Agro-Ecosystems” (2015-2017).

2. Agronomy Journal: Associate Editor (2009-2014).

3. Soil Biology and Biochemistry: Subject Editor (2010-2015), Associate Chief Editor (2016), Chief Editor (2017-2020).

4. Frontiers in Agroecology and Land Use Systems: Review Editor (2015-present).

5. Applied Energy: Guest Editor for Special Issue on “Sustainable biofuel production from forestry, agricultural and waste biomass feedstocks” (2016-2017).

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.  Earthworm-microbial interactions affecting crop production and greenhouse gas emissions from temperate agroecosystems
2. Transforming plant carbon into soil carbon: the role of soil microorganisms and fauna
3. Environmental and economic benefits of temperate tree-based intercropping systems
4. Best management practices for manure management, to optimize the soil nutrient supply and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
5. Ecotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in soils
6. Bioenergy feedstocks for production of next generation biofuels and bioproducts: life cycle assessment and supply chain management
7. Carbon feedstocks for simultaneous energy and biocement production


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

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


View a list of current publications

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