Claire Chenu

Nobel Conference 54

Claire Chenu is an international specialist in soil organic matter, organic matter dynamics, carbon storage in soils, and the interaction of soil structure and changes in agricultural practices. Chenu presently is Professor at AgroParisTech, the Paris Institute of Technology for Life, Food and Environmental Sciences, and a researcher at the Joint Research Unit for Functional Ecology and Exotoxicology of Agroecosystems. In 2015, Claire Chenu was appointed Special Ambassador for the United Nations International Year of Soils, sponsored by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In this role, Chenu traveled the world teaching about the importance of soils to food, fiber, water, and other needs. Chenu used her role as Special Ambassador to teach stakeholders, decision makers, and the general public, about soil security, one of the great global challenges of our time.

In an interview with the FAO, Chenu states, “Soils are considered to be the last frontier in terms of Earth’s biodiversity. From the surface, soil is brown and doesn’t look like much, but take a closer look and in fact it has a very complex architecture with pores, holes and canals. It is a three-dimensional world where a very wide diversity of organisms exists.” Her research into this “last frontier” is published in scholarly journals such as the European Journal of Soil Science and Soil Biology and Biochemistry. At present, much of her research focuses on the role and function of organic matter in soil, and its interactions.

Chenu shares her passion with her students; she encourages them and us to be aware of the steps we can take to preserve our soils: “avoid using pesticides in our own gardens, recycle our wastes and use compost, pay attention to how our food was produced, with practices that are harmful to soils or not, try to buy local in order to reduce our indirect use of soils that come from the other end of the planet.” A public policy expert, she works on scientific advisory committees for several European nations, has served as France’s Vice-Chair of France’s Scientific Council for Natural Heritage and Biodiversity, and was named a member of the Scientific and Technical Committee of 4 Per 1000, an initiative aimed at showing that “agricultural soils can play a crucial role where food security and climate change are concerned.”

Professor Chenu’s Nobel Conference Presentation

Claire Chenu’s presentation will focus on questions of how we should manage soil for the benefit of all. She will discuss soil management for crop production, focusing on the role of organic matter in carbon sequestration.