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John Galbraith

John Galbraith
185 Ag Quad Lane
239 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, Virginia


I have a three-way appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences covering 60% teaching, 30% extension, and 10% research.  The foundation of my program is teaching Wetland Soils and Mitigation, Soil Description and Interpretation, Soil Genesis and Classification, and Soils. I coach the Virginia Tech Soil Judging Team. My extension program focusses on training Virginia Department of Health employees about soil features that indicate water tables, and providing foundational soils information to nutrient managers, Master Gardeners, and the general public. My research includes remote sensing of wetlands, ecology of vernal pools, and developing hydric soil indicators.


  • Wetland Soils
  • Soil Genesis
  • Soil Classification


  • Ph.D. Soil Science, Cornell University, 1997
  • M.S. Range Science, Texas Tech University, 1983
  • B.S. Range and Wildlife Management, Texas Tech University, 1978

One of the central themes of my research is to learn how to use remote sensing to detect and delineate wetlands. We study hydric soil indicators used in wetland identification. We also study the ecology of vernal pool wetlands in the Appalachian Mountains to understand how they form, quantify the functions they provide, and learn how they can be sustained. I contribute to the development of U.S. Soil Taxonomy used in making and interpreting soil surveys.

  • CSES 3114: Soils (30%)
  • CSES 3144: Soil Description and Interpretation and CSES 4174 Soil Sampling and Evaluation
  • CSES 4134: Soil Genesis and Classification
  • CSES 4854: Wetland Soils and Mitigation (also CSES 5854 Adv. Wetland Soils) and CSES 5864 Wetland Soils and Mitigation (on-line)
  • CSES 5214: Soil Genesis Field Trip
  • NRM 489/689: Alaska Soil Geography Field Tour (University of Alaska-Fairbanks)

Professor | 2021 – present 
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Adjunct Faculty | 2019 - Present 
School of Natural Resources and Extension
University of Alaska-Fairbanks 

Associate Professor | 2005 – 2021 
School of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Assistant Professor | 1999-2005
Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Virginia Tech

Post-Doc | 1997-1998
Cornell University

Post-Doc | 1998-1999
University of Florida

Lab Manager and Instructor | 1990-1997
Cornell University

Range Conservationist and Soil Scientist | 1978-1990
USDA-Soil Conservation Service
(multiple locations)

  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence - College of Ag & Life Sciences, 2014
  • Diversity Enhancement Award - College of Ag & Life Sciences, 2014
  • NCSS National Cooperator of the Year - USDA-NRCS, 2014
  • Silver Spade Award for outstanding regional and/or national service to soil survey. NE Cooperative Soil Survey Conference, 2008
  • Harry A. McDonald Award for Excellence in Teaching - Dept. Soil, Crop, and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, 1997

* student author

  1. Galbraith, J.M. 2018. Human-altered and Human-transported (HAHT) Soils in the U.S. Soil Classification System. Soil Sci. and Plant Nutr. 64 (Issue 2 - Special Section for Soils of Urban Industry Traffic Mining and Military Area): 190-199. Published online: 21 Feb 2018. DOI: 10.1080/00380768.2018.1442682.
  2. Galbraith, J.M., Stolt, M., Rabenhorst, M.C., and M. Ransom. 2018. Impacts of fundamental Changes to Soil Taxonomy. South African J. Soil and Crop Sci. DOI:
  3. Kayastha, N.*, Thomas, V.A., and J.M. Galbraith. 2012. Monitoring Wetland Change Using Inter-Annual Landsat Time Series Data. Wetlands 32:1149–1162. DOI 10.1007/s13157-012-0345-1. I wrote parts pertaining to remote sensing and wetland inventory and edited the manuscript.
  4. Galbraith, J.M. 2012. Shepherding Undergraduate Students Through a Research Experience. No. Am. Col. Teach. Agric. J. 56 (2): 76-82.
  5. Galbraith, J.M. 2012. Using Student Competition Field Trips to Increase Teaching and Learning Effectiveness. J. Nat. Res. Life Sci. Edu. 41(1): 54-58. doi:10.4195/jnrlse.2011.0023u
  6. Galbraith, J.M. 2012. Rationale for Proposed Changes to Soil Taxonomy Concerning the International Committee for Anthropogenic Soils. Soil Horizons 53(2): 1-5. doi:10.2136/sh2012-53-2-lgc
  7. Chakraborty, S.*, Weindorf, D.C., Morgan, C.L.S., Ge, Y., Galbraith, J.M., Li, B., and C.S. Kahlon. 2010. Rapid Identification of Oil-Contaminated Soils Using Visible Near-Infrared Diffuse Reflectance Spectroscopy. J. Environ. Qual. Vol 39(4): 1378-1387. I wrote parts pertaining to soil properties such as carbon and edited the manuscript.
  8. Pantaleoni, E.*, R. Wynne, J. Galbraith, and J. Campbell. 2009. A Logit Model for Predicting Wetland Location Using ASTER and GIS. Inter. J. of Rem. Sens. 30(9): 2215-2236. I wrote small parts pertaining to wetland soils and edited the manuscript.
  9. Pantaleoni, E.*, R. Wynne, J. Galbraith, and J. Campbell. 2009. A Comparison of CART and Logistic Regression for Mapping Wetland Types in the Coastal Plain of Virginia Using the ASTER Sensor. Inter. J. of Rem. Sens. 30(13): 3423-3440. I wrote parts about wetland soils and edited the manuscript.
  10. Burdt, A.C.*, J.M. Galbraith, and J.P. Megonigal. 2006. Using CO2 Efflux Rates to Indicate Below-Ground Growing Seasons by Land-use Treatment. Wetl. Ecol. and Mngmnt. 14(2):133–145. I wrote about the wetland soil properties at our research site and edited the manuscript.
  11. Burdt, A.C.*, J.M. Galbraith, and W.L. Daniels. 2005. Land-Use Effects on Growing Season Length Indicators in Southeastern Virginia Wet Flats. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 69:1551-1558. I wrote about the growing season and the wetland soil properties at our research site and edited the manuscript.