While earning his doctorate at Duke University, David Valentine studied nutrient cycling in tundra soils, which planted the seeds for his eventual move north.
Valentine joined the University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty in 1996 and, as a professor of forest soils, has taught a variety of classes for the School of Natural Resources and Extension, including Soils and the Environment, Nutrient Cycling and Soil Fertility, Perspectives in Natural Resource Management, Resource Management Issues at High Latitudes, Environmental Decision Making, and Environmental Ethics. He and Professor Peter Fix toured the Interior and Southcentral this May with 19 students participating in the annual NRM 290 field course.
Valentine’s chief research interest now centers around the effects of climate change on soil respiration and carbon balance. He is looking at how the reduced soil moisture affects roots, fungi and other below-ground activity as reflected in soil respiration. To simulate expected climate change, he measures how rapidly soil produces carbon dioxide in plots that have been shielded from moisture.
“We’re drying it now as a proxy for the future,” he said.
Valentine assumed a new role at the school July 1 as the director of academic programs. He will direct and evaluate the school’s academic offerings, work to increase the number of degree-seeking students and institute a better assessment of what students are learning.
“And then we know what aspects of our program work well and which ones we will need to focus on improving in the future,” he said.
With the half-time administrative appointment, he is reducing his teaching load to one class this fall, Environmental Decision Making, and another TBA in the spring.
Valentine has also been active in faculty governance. He served as UAF Faculty Senate president two years ago and as chair of the statewide Faculty Alliance. He has been active in politics having served as a local political party leader.
Other interests include canoeing and biking. He bikes to work year-round and canoed a section of Birch Creek this summer with his wife and two daughters, ages 8 and 28.