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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Ippolito Research Team

Jim Ippolito
Rattan Lal Endowed Professor of Soil Health and Soil Fertility within SENRJim Ippolito

Jim has 30+ years of experience focused on soil health across numerous ecosystems.  Jim also works with land application of biosolids, biochar, manure, water treatment residuals, and other materials for ensuring improved environmental quality/health.  Jim is originally from New Jersey, obtained a BS degree from the University of Delaware, an MS and PhD from Colorado State University, and has worked for Colorado State University, the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, and now The Ohio State University.

Current Projects:

1. USDA-ARS: The soil health nexus: Biochar use for improving soil health and limiting PFAS movement in soils;

2. Assessing soil health and soil carbon alterations across agroecosystems at the Grace Drake Farm, Wooster, Ohio;

3. USDA: Climate Smart Commodities-Soil Health-Saving Tomorrow’s Agricultural Resources (STAR) program across Colorado and the West;

4. NRCS: A Collaborative Multi-State Research and Technical Assistance Consortium State of Science and Future Opportunities to Address PFAS in Agriculture;NRCS: A Colorado Soil Health Program: Supporting producers and conservation districts to improve drought resilience and water utilization;

5. USDA NRCS/General Mills/NFWF Conservation Partners Program: Advancing soil health through technical assistance and producer incentives in the Republican River Watershed (CO);

6. US EPA & USDA-ARS: Investigating naturally revegetated chat-contaminated soils-assisted revegetation;

7. Project GREEEN (Collaborative research with Michigan State University: Accumulation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) in Historically Achieved Corn and Wheat Grains;

8. Colorado Dep. Public Health and Environment, Water Quality Control Division: Implementing agricultural best management practices alongside the STAR program;

9. US EPA National Priorities: Evaluation of pollutants in biosolids - Assessing biosolids treatment processes on environmental fate and plant uptake of pollutants from land application of biosolids;

10. USDA-ARS: Data Innovations Project (Big Data);

11. Colorado Dep. Public Health and Environment, Water Quality Control Division: Water quality, soil health and regenerative agriculture: A nexus for sustainability.

Other interests:  I really enjoy anything outdoors, and used to extensively run, hike, mountain bike, ski, mountain climb, etc.  Now, and when I can, I love to spend time as well as travel with my wife and family.  I really like solving problems, either at work or at play, and I like helping others be successful. 

Meet the Team

Tad TrimarcoTad Trimarco
PhD Candidate, Colorado State University

Tad has 7 years of experience studying soil-water relations in agricultural settings. Tad’s primary focus is on the interaction of regenerative agriculture and the ecosystem services provided by healthy soils – namely water quality protection and greenhouse gas mitigation. His current work focuses on the role of Best Management Practices in regulating ecosystem health. Tad is originally from central CO, obtained his BS in Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University and is a current PhD student at the same institution.


1. Colorado Dep. Public Health and Environment, Water Quality Control Division: Water quality, soil health and regenerative agriculture: A nexus for sustainability.

2. Colorado Ag Water Alliance: Assessment of biochar as a potential water quality and water storage regulator in agricultural soils

Other interests: I love to travel and adventure around the world and within the US and find myself most at home when I’m not at home. I’m a very active person and love to spend my days hiking, camping, playing basketball or ultimate frisbee, or scampering around a forest or cliffside. I also paint, write, and play music to activate the creative side of my brain and get out of the world of numbers for a minute.

Austin P. HopkinsAustin P. Hopkins
PhD Candidate, Colorado State University

I grew up in South-Eastern Idaho working on an Ag research farm, moving irrigation pipe, harvesting potatoes, raising 4-H pigs etc. I worked with my dad (who is also a soil scientist) from a young age. I took thousands of plant and soil samples before I even started middle school and I suppose it was punishment enough that I wanted to keep it going in my own adult life. I earned my B.S. and M.S. in Environmental Science from Brigham Young University (BYU). My thesis work centered around estimating leaf area index in irrigated wheat fields to better inform variable rate irrigation systems within precision agriculture. I’m working towards a career in the USDA-ARS, I’m tentatively planning my next step in my career around a post doc in the Forage and Rangeland Research lab in Logan, Utah with the USDA-ARS focused on modeling climate change effects on newly developed rangeland genetic material aimed at increased resilience with harsher conditions.


1. USDA-ARS: Measured Annual Nutrient Loads from Agricultural Environments (MANAGE) Database. How do agriculture management decisions affect the water quality across North American Ecoregions?

2. Varda: Soil Hive. A platform for accessing, comparing and visualizing global soils data and how it can prove valuable to a variety of audiences and users.

Other interests: Work interests: Precision Ag, Remote Sensing, Water Quality, Soil Conservation, UAV and Satellite Imagery, Statistical Modeling.

For Fun!: Being with my wife Karenna and my two young girls. Racquet sports, biking, cooking (and subsequently eating), hiking, fishing, hot springs, nature sketches, LEGO’s, collecting and enjoying books and records, wood working, living life.  

Catherine SchumakCatherine Schumak
PhD Candidate, Colorado State University

I grew up in North Carolina alongside one of the cleanest rivers in the state. From a young age, I was fascinated with water and its multifaceted role in the environment. This motivated my academic interests, leading me to a B.S. with Honors in Environmental Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a M.S. in Water Resources Management with a focus on Hydrologic Modeling from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. My PhD research centers on modeling claypan hydrology, nutrient and atrazine fate and transport at the watershed scale to quantify the impact of mitigation strategies.


1. USDA-ARS: Creating phosphorus and pesticide components for the AgES watershed model. Dynamic Claypan Modeling – characterizing the hydraulic conductivity of shrink-swell smectitic clay soils.

2. Waterborne Environmental/Syngenta:  Process-based versus regulatory Models - simulating atrazine concentrations in Goodwater Creek, MO using the AgES and SEAWAVE-QEX models; Quantifying the impact of mitigation strategies on atrazine loading and exposure using the AgES model.

Other interests: Hiking and birding with my husband Jon, nature photography, gardening, and enjoying time with my two horses Amore and Thunder.

Egondu UmeobiEgondu Umeobi
PhD Candidate, ESGP Program, The Ohio State University

Egondu Umeobi is an accomplished academic, earning a Bachelor of Science in Soil Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a research which focused on environmental impact assessment of mining-impacted land, specifically monitoring contamination levels in mine impacted land in Ebonyi State Nigeria. Egondu is pursuing her Ph.D., which she began in Soil Science at Colorado State University, and is now continuing in Environmental Science at Ohio State University.


Egondu's current PhD research centers on restoring soil health in heavy metal-contaminated mine lands. She is passionate about soil and environmental science and is particularly interested in contamination, remediation, and soil health. Egondu's goal is to develop innovative strategies for restoring soil health in mining-impacted areas to mitigate the impact of mining on the environment.

Other interests: Egondu enjoys traveling and engaging in physical activities such as running. In addition, Egondu finds cooking therapeutic and enjoys experimenting with new recipes and cuisines. Cooking is also a great way for Egondu to bond with friends and family over delicious meals.

Oliver HoffmanOliver Hoffman
MS Candidate, Colorado State University/SENR The Ohio State University

Oliver, originally from Oregon moved to Colorado for his bachelors degree at CSU in Soil and Crop Science, complemented with a minor in GIS. His work in agriculture took shape while aiding in the management of family farmland in southern Minnesota. While in Colorado, Oliver worked for a number of institutions: Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Cutrufo Soil Innovation Lab, the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities, and the Soil Health and Environmental Quality Lab. Oliver is now in progress on the completion of a Master’s degree in SENR at The Ohio State University. 


1. Investigating the ability of the Soil Management Assessment Framework’s ability to quantify soil health in ecological and agricultural systems in Faribault County, MN.

2. Assessing the influence of the soil microbiome on soil health frameworks in Faribault County, MN.

3. Federal CIG: A Colorado Soil Health Pilot Program: Supporting producers and conservation districts to improve drought resilience and water utilization.

4. CDPHE + CDA State 319: Implementing agricultural best management practices within Colorado Soil Health Pilot Program.

5. CPP: Advancing Soil Health through Technical Assistance and Producer Incentives in the Republican River Watershed of Colorado.

Other interests: Separate from the office or lab, you can usually find Oliver in the mountains snowboarding or climbing and occasionally doing this out of the country.

Xucheng HuXucheng Hu
MS Candidate, SENR, The Ohio State University

Xucheng grew up in Beijing, China, before he came to OSU as an international student. After receiving his B.S. degree in Natural Resource Management from OSU in May 2023, Xucheng is currently pursuing an M.S. degree with Dr. Jim Ippolito. He recognized his interest in soil when he was doing field sampling and lab analysis in the soil chemistry lab. Additionally, he focused on comparing the methodologies in pyrogenic carbon quantifications in soils in his undergraduate research. Currently, he is passionate about soil health associations regarding different landscapes and management practices. He is also interested in soil carbon pools and carbon dynamics in agroecosystems.


1. Assessing soil health and soil carbon alterations across agroecosystems at the Grace Drake Farm, Wooster, Ohio;

2. Comparison between the Soil Management Assessment Framework (SMAF) and the Haney Soil Health Test (HSHT) in diverse agroecosystems under varying management practices in Colorado.

Other interests: Xucheng loves traveling, especially taking photographs of natural and landscape sceneries. Besides that, he also enjoys hiking, going to the symphony, and playing sports. His favorite dish is Sweet and Sour Mandarin Fish.

Katie WolfKatie Wolf
Partnership for Data Innovations Coordinator (at Colorado State University/USDA-ARS)

Katie is originally from Minnesota and has worked for several governmental agencies in areas of environmental policy. Focusing on the intersection of agriculture and environment, she has worked on water and agricultural regulation and policy, along with air quality and soil health. Katie has a M.S. in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota's Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a B.S. in Plant Improvement from the University of Minnesota.


1. Feds Feed Families National Technology Lead, 

2. COTMAN Software updating team

3. Digital Accessibility, AMS, MADIS GeoHub, LIMS, PDI Spotlight, RAP…And many others!

Other interests: In her free time, Katie enjoys spending time outdoors, paddleboarding, gardening, and hiking as well as spending as much time as possible with her family.

Steven Russell
Steven Russell
Partnership for Data Innovations Project Coordinator

Steven Russell comes to PDI’s Project Coordination team from his alma mater, Arizona State University, where he most recently managed the Project Cities program at ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network. In this capacity, Russell facilitated 58 student- and faculty-led research projects, designed to advance local government agencies’ sustainability programs and policies. In this role, Russell regularly conducted strategic planning workshops and events with municipal staff and leadership participating in the program, and produced public-facing reports, designs, and multimedia content. Russell earned his BIS in Psychology and Communication, his BA in Sociology, and then later his Master’s in Public Administration, all from ASU as well. Russell has served in multiple other program development and administration roles at ASU, including piloting a new carbon offsets through forestry program, launching a student leadership and equity program, and advising on the university’s 2018 Sustainability Goals. Russell has also served just under three years as a Commissioner on the City of Tempe’s Sustainability Commission, assisting in the development, public comment, and advocacy phases for Tempe’s 2019 Climate Action Plan and subsequent updates. Russell brings several years’ experience to the team in coordinating events, workshops, festivals, and conferences, as well as facilitating public meetings and group decision-making processes.


1. Soil Carbon Monitoring and Evaluation project, USDA-FPAC & USDA-NRCS;

2. Soil Sampling Planning Optimizer Tool project, University of Nebraska, Lincoln & USDA-ARS;

3. Geospatial Enterprise Architecture Outreach project, USDA-OCIO;

4. Precision Ag Data Connector, USDA-ARS, numerous collaborators;

5. Tribal Soils Explorer: Quapaw Nation, USDA-ARS, Quapaw Nation

Other interests: In his free time, you can find Russell enjoying the Colorado outdoors, tending to his patio garden and “indoor jungle” of houseplants, or enjoying bad sci-fi and a home-cooked meal. 

Grant ZochGrant Zoch
Partnership for Data Innovations GIS Analyst (at Colorado State University/USDA-ARS)

Grant is a GIS Analyst who works with the Partnerships for Data Innovations (PDI) Technology Team. Since he began in this position, he has worked on creating data collection, data visualization, and data management tools to help agricultural scientists with their research and work.

Grant is passionate about GIS and its capabilities because of how it brings needed context to complex problems. Being able to collect, map, explore, and analyze agricultural research data in central data repositories helps scientists to better understand their projects and how they can help to feed the world.


1. Citrus Research and Field Trials: Combatting citrus greening disease in Florida, California, and Texas by helping growers collect data on different interventions and their efficacy.

2. COTMAN: Modernizing cotton research data collection tools to allow researchers greater flexibility and ease of use in their field work to help grow better cotton.

3. Extension Master Gardeners (USDA-NIFA): Collaborating with the EMG program to create data collection and visualization tools to help Master Gardeners and volunteers see the impact their work is having in their communities.

4. USDA Farm Management App: Creation of a customizable and flexible data collection tool for farm operations managers across the country to aid in standardizing and streamlining farm operations data collection efforts.

5. Sugarbeet Rolodex: Creation of a public hub site to help sugar beet researchers across the country increase visibility and collaboration in various research projects.

6. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program Field Mapping (USDA-APHIS): Collaboration with the CFTEP team at APHIS to create a suite of data collection and mapping tools to aid in their work in creation of quarantine zones concerned with Cattle Fever Tick occurrences in southern Texas and Puerto Rico.

Other interests: While not mapping or building data collection tools, Grant enjoys hiking, cooking, and cross-country skiing.

Alicia TysonAlicia Tyson
Partnership for Data Innovations GIS Analyst (at Colorado State University/USDA-ARS)

Alicia has 13+ years working in geospatial analysis, modeling and application development. She has 20+ years in layout and design and web development. Her research at Colorado State University, where she is earning a PhD in Watershed Science, reflects her passion for climate adaptation science, disaster risk reduction, transdisciplinary science, and environmental justice. Building on prior work in the Peruvian Andes, her current work is focused on the application of a geospatial systems analysis to assess socio-ecological risk, resilience, and vulnerability to landslides across Western Puerto Rico. She obtained a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder and a master’s degree in geographic information science from the University of Denver.


1. Digitial Accessibility, Integrating Section 508 Compliance: Facilitate the integration of Section 508 compliance into products and practices across ARS with specific consideration for integration into technological products. Product development includes a Survey123 survey assessment tool, guiding documents for use by technical staff, and a central site for accessing training resources, technical documentation, and assessment tools.

2. LTAR (Long-Term Agroecosystem Research) Annual Reporting: Design and development of two ESRI Survey123 instruments for use in the completion of LTAR nationwide Annual Reporting.

3. Tribal Soils - Quapaw Nation: Develop a web-based mapping application that displays soil properties on Quapaw Nation tribal land and an ESRI StoryMap. Currently the data on soil properties in tribal regions are lacking. By applying a fuzzy logic model on satellite imagery, USDA-ARS has produced geospatial data layers that estimate soil properties across a portion of Quapaw Tribal land in Oklahoma. These are made available to users through the app.

4. Forage Data Hub: Design and develop an integrative web-based model for forage data to be retrievable alongside other ARS data in a central data hub and to also be enhanced through integration of an ESRI Knowledge graph.

5. Safety Inspection Tools: Design and develop a suite of products for ARS REE safety officers that facilitates the creation of inspection reports and tracks hazardous finding trends. Products include an instructional ESRI StoryMap, two Survey123 survey instruments for data collection, and an ESRI Dashboard for analyzing results, patterns, and trends.

6. Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program: Design and development of English (assist) and Spanish (lead) ESRI StoryMaps to guide field technicians in the workflow process to assess livestock for Cattle Fever Tick infestion.

7. Legacy Phosphorus: Development of an ESRI StoryMap to promote and share information about the NRCS/ARS Legacy Phosphorus Program.

Other interests: I enjoy hiking, cycling, camping, and water sports (kayaking/SUP/rafting), and exploring new landscapes, nationally and internationally. I am also a published poet and recently embraced painting as another creative outlet. Volunteering and community service are important, holistic, and meaningful ways I also spend my free time.

Lauren HargisLauren Hargis
Partnership for Data Innovations GIS Analyst (at Colorado State University/USDA-ARS)

I grew up in Louisiana and spent all my time outdoors. I knew my love for nature at a young age and spent a lot of time working with my father, a wetland biologist. After high school, I moved to Colorado where I attended Colorado State University for a B.S. in Natural Resources Management and a M.S. in Ecology. The focus of my early career was in aquatic sciences, primarily ecotoxicology. I conducted research for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, US Geological Survey, and did some database management work for the National Park Service. After graduate school, my focus shifted to geospatial data management where I continued to serve in the public sector. I worked for several agencies including the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, Colorado State Forest Service, and currently I am working for the US Dept. of Agriculture’s Partnerships for Data Innovation. Currently I focus on environmental database management and automation of processes related to agricultural research and data acquisition.


1. USDA: Partnerships for Data Innovations, 

2. CSFS: Colorado Forest Atlas, 

3. CEMML: US Air Force Civil Engineering Center Environmental Data Standardization and Interoperability project for environmental restoration and compliance, 

4. CPW: Predatory Threat of Introduced Yellow Perch in a Salmonid-Dominated Reservoir Food Web, 

5. Prevalence and intensity of the parasitic copepod (Salmonicola californeinsis) on Kokanee salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) in a reservoir in Colorado, 

6. USGS: Aquatic Ecology and Contaminants Laboratory

Other interests: In my spare time, I enjoy camping, hiking, skiing, spending time with friends and family, traveling and attending music festivals.

Karissa BarnesKarissa Barnes
Partnership for Data Innovations (Colorado State University)

Karissa Barnes grew up on a beef and dairy farm in southeastern Idaho where she pursued an associate degree in agriculture from the College of Southern Idaho. After graduating, she took a technical support position doing GPS and GIS support. She expanded her skills and eventually moved to a GPS/GIS services specialist where she consulted and developed GIS workflows for clients. She stayed in the geospatial industry for ten years and returned to college at Colorado State University to pursue a bachelor's degree in computer science. In the future, she hopes to work on a software development team as a software engineer.

Projects: AgCROS – standardizing and validating data submitted for the AgCROS program

Other interests: Karissa is an outdoorsy person that loves hiking, backpacking, camping, and riding horses. She recently started playing and refereeing rugby. After graduating, she hopes to start travelling internationally.