Lina F Yousef is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST) in Abu Dhabi.  She received BSc and Msc degrees in Biology from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and a PhD in Soil Science from the Ohio State University in the US.  Prior to becoming an Assistant Professor, she was a scientist with the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium at MIST and was involved in mitigating risks associated with establishment of seawater based agricultural systems in Abu Dhabi for bioenergy crop cultivation.  She also spent one year as a visiting scholar at the Ralph M. Parsons Laboratory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of the MIT-MIST Technology and Development Program.  In 2013 she established the sustainable soil and environmental microbiology lab ( at MIST.   Her research group mainly focuses on arid soil management and restoration of degraded, marginal lands.  

Keynote Address :The value of dirt: managing soil quality now to secure the future”

Soils provide essential ecosystem services and play a pivotal role in climate change, food and water security.  Degraded soils are a result of poor soil quality that is primarily caused by soil erosion associated with losses of soil carbon and land vegetation. Management interventions that slow or reverse land degradation through terrestrial carbon sequestration can simultaneously improve soil quality, enhance food production and preserve water.   Properly managing the soil resource is now a global priority particularly because the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050.  It is estimated that 120 million hectares of land will be needed to support growth in food production resulting in socio-economic tension and environmental stress.  Agricultural intensification on existing cultivated land is currently practiced but the impact on the environment is unknown and it does not support economic development in poor countries that only have access to poor quality soils that are highly vulnerable to degradation - particularly in the face of climatic uncertainty.  The presentation aims to address the importance of soil conservation in securing food and water reserves for the future.