Dr. Cheryl Palm

Incorporating Soil Biological and Ecological processes and principles into Agricultural Production and Environmental Management

Dr. Cheryl Palm is a Research Professor in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and a core faculty of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Florida. A biogeochemist and tropical ecosystem ecologist, Dr. Palm’s research focuses on land use change, degradation and rehabilitation, and ecosystem processes in tropical agricultural landscapes. She led a major effort quantifying carbon stocks, losses and net greenhouse gas emissions following slash and burn and alternative land use systems in the humid tropics in the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon, Indonesia and the Congo Basin. She has spent much of the past 20 years investigating soil nutrient dynamics in farming systems of Africa, including options for soil and land rehabilitation. Her most recent work investigates the tradeoffs and synergies among agricultural intensification strategies, the environment, and rural livelihoods, including nutrition and income generation. She has conducted this research across diverse agricultural ecologies and farming systems in SubSaharan through the Millennium Villages Project and Vital Signs Africa at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. She is currently working on indicators and methods for assessing and monitoring the sustainability of agricultural intensification. Palm received her Ph.D. in soil science from North Carolina State University after completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in zoology at the University of California, Davis. She served as Senior Research Scientist at The Earth Institute, Columbia University (2003-2016), Principal Research Scientist of the Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility Program in Nairobi, Kenya (1991-2001). She has served on the faculties of North Carolina State University and Colorado State. Palm is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomists and served as chair of the International Nitrogen Initiative (INI) from 2008 to 2011.


  • AOM 6932/4932: Agricultural Intensification: Tradeoffs and Synergies – production, environment and livelihoods

Cheryl Palm - Research Professor