Andreas A. Richter
The 2023 Philippe Duchaufour Medal is awarded to Andreas A. Richter for his pioneering scientific contributions in soil ecological research, and his work as an excellent teacher and mentor for his students, following an inclusive approach.
Andreas Richter is a soil ecologist with a focus on the role of microorganisms driving soil biogeochemical processes in response to climate change. With an original training and his habilitation treatise in plant physiology, Andreas’ approach to soil ecology integrates multiple disciplines, which allows him to link data and conceptual approaches from the microorganism to the ecosystem scale. His research is driven by overarching questions of soil microbial processes with a global perspective, from the Siberian arctic, to the Amazon basin, to the Antarctic. Notably, he also includes modelling to develop quantitative and causal relationships among the biological agents (bacteria, fungi) and their respective environment (soil) which makes him a true pioneer in the integrative understanding of soils and their functions. Within soil science the work of Andreas represents one of the currently most vibrant and future oriented research fields that provide the fundament for the integrative understanding of soil functions in a fast changing world. By developing novel methods to measure carbon and nitrogen use efficiency, he strongly contributed to our current understanding of microbial stoichiometry and its consequences for the decomposition of soil organic matter. Andreas led pioneering work in stable isotope pool dilution methods to measure gross protein and cellulose depolymerisation rates in soil and litter. Importantly, he has been able to frame these cross-scale measurements into the bigger picture. This became evident, for example, through a recent publication in ‘Nature Climate Change’, where it was shown that microbial temperature sensitivity and substrate depletion together dictate warming effects on soil carbon loss via their control over microbial biomass.
Andreas Richter has now become a world leader in soil ecological research as visible by his publication record including soil science and ecology journals (e.g. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Global Change Biology, Ecology Letters), as well as the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journals. He has a highly distinguished record of scientific accomplishments in soil science over the course of his career, and has been listed as highly cited researcher in last three years (Thomson Clarivate Analytics).
Andreas Richter leads the very successful Terrestrial Ecosystem Research group at the University of Vienna, where he maintains an excellent and stimulating research environment. He is an excellent teacher and mentor for his students and follows an inclusive approach that provides young researchers with an optimal start into their scientific career. This is nicely mirrored by the excellent Alumni coming from his group, and the innovative researchers currently working with him. Andreas’ dedication as a mentor has also shown during the COVID19 lockdown, where he proactively took care of every single one of his numerous lab members by discussing and adjusting their projects.
Last, Andreas is very active in communicating his research, both to his peers (as evidenced by his large number of contributions to the EGU General Assemblies), but also in public debates, where he discusses the implications of his research for sustaining the functioning of future soils by raising awareness about the impact of anthropogenic climate change on soils and the processes therein.
Based on the above, Andreas Richter stands out as both a leader and a role model in Soil Sciences.