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Lee Daniels

T.B. Hutcheson Jr. Professor Emeritus
Dr. Lee Daniels
185 Ag Quad Lane
244 Smyth Hall
Blacksburg, VA


I have a 60% research and 40% instruction appointment in the School of Plant and Environmental Sciences focused on environmental applications of soil science. I am particularly interested in understanding the impacts of drastic disturbances such as mining, road building and urbanization on soil and water quality along with the development of effective rehabilitation strategies. In addition to teaching basic introductory classes in soil science and geomorphology, I offer a cluster of advanced undergraduate/graduate level classes in disturbed land reclamation and rehabilitation. I supplement these programs with a range of public outreach offerings.


  • Rehabilitation of disturbed lands
  • Wetland creation
  • Soil genesis


  • Ph.D. Soil Science (in Agronomy), Virginia Tech, 1985
  • M.S.  Soil Science (in Agronomy), Virginia Tech, 1980
  • B.S. Forestry, Virginia Tech, 1978

Much of the world’s surface has been disturbed to some degree by human activities. My research program is focused on the rehabilitation of drastically disturbed lands. Major goals are to delineate the critical chemical, physical and biological processes necessary for land rehabilitation and to determine linkages between mode of disturbance and reclamation success. Since the mid-1980’s, I have led research programs involving coal and mineral sands mining reclamation, soil development processes in created wetlands, wetland water budgeting procedures, beneficial utilization of dredge materials and municipal/industrial residuals, identification and remediation of acid forming materials, and in the development of effective laboratory and bioassay screening protocols for soil amendments.

  • CSES/ENSC 3114: Soils
  • CSES/ENSC 3124: Soils Laboratory
  • CSES 3304: Geomorphology
  • CSES/ENSC 4774: Reclamation of Drastically Disturbed Lands
  • CSES 5114: Soils for Professionals (on-line)
  • CSES 5774: Advanced Reclamation of Disturbed Areas
  • CSES 5874: Reclamation of Disturbed Lands (on-line)

Thomas B. Hutcheson Jr. Endowed Professor | 2010–2022

Professor of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences | 1998–2010

Associate Professor in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences | 1989-1998

Assistant Professor in Agronomy | 1987-1989

Instructor in Agronomy | 1982-1987 

Research Associate in Agronomy | 1981-1982

Fellow, Soil Science of Society of America, 2016

Lifetime Achievement in Mined Land Reclamation Research (the William T. Plass Award), American Society of Mining and Reclamation, 2012

USEPA National Biosolids Beneficial Use Research Award, 2000

Reclamation Researcher of the Year, Amer. Society for Surface Mining and Reclamation, 1993

Research Paper Technical Merit Award, Pittsburgh Coal Conference, 1993

Outstanding Ph.D. Candidate Award, VPI & SU Sigma Xi Science Society, 1985

Outstanding Technical Paper Award, 1982 National Symposium on Surface Mining Hydrology, Sedimentology and Reclamation, Lexington, Ky., 1982

  1. Roberts, J.A., W.L. Daniels, J.C. Bell, and J.A. Burger. 1988. Early stages of mine soil genesis as affected by topsoiling and organic amendments. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 52:730-738.
  2. Haering, K.C., W.L. Daniels, and J.A. Roberts. 1993. Changes in mine soil properties resulting from overburden weathering. J. Environ. Qual. 22:194-200.
  3. Stolt, M.H., M.H. Genthner, W.L. Daniels, V.A. Groover, S.M. Nagle, and K.C. Haering. 2000. Comparison of soil and other environmental conditions in constructed and adjacent palustrine reference wetlands. Wetlands 20 (4):671-683.
  4. Stewart, B.R., W.L. Daniels, L.W. Zelazny and M.L. Jackson. 2001. Evaluation of leachates from coal refuse blended with fly ash at different rates. J. Environ. Qual. 30:1382-1391.
  5. Bendfeldt, E.S., J.A. Burger, and W.L. Daniels. 2001. Quality of amended mine soils after sixteen years. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 65:1736-1744.
  6. Daniels, W.L., P.D. Schroeder, S.M. Nagle, L.W. Zelazny, and M.M. Alley. 2003. Reclamation of prime farmland following mineral sands mining in Virginia. Min. Eng. 55(12):42-48.
  7. Orndorff, Z.W., and W.L. Daniels. 2004. Evaluation of acid-producing sulfidic materials Virginia highway corridors. Environ. Geol. 46:209-216.
  8. Haering, K.C., W.L. Daniels, and J.M. Galbraith. 2004. Appalachian mine soil morphology and properties: Effects of weathering and mining method. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 68:1315-1325.
  9. Stuczynski, T., G. Siebielec, W.L. Daniels, G. McCarty, and R. Chaney. 2007. Biological aspects of metal waste reclamation with biosolids. J. Environ. Qual. 36:1154-1162.
  10. Wick, A.F., W.L. Daniels, Z.W. Orndorff, and M.M. Alley. 2013. Organic matter accumulation post-mineral sands mining. Soil Use and Management. DOI: 10.1111/sum.12058.
  11. Pietrzykowski M. and W. Daniels. 2014. Estimation of Carbon sequestration in pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) ecosystems developed on post-mining sites in Poland. Ecological Engineering 73 (2014)209-218.
  12. Pietrzykowski, M., W.L. Daniels and S.C. Koropchak. 2015. Microtopographic effects on growth of young bald cypress (Taxodium distichum L.) in a created freshwater forested wetland in southeastern Virginia. Ecol. Eng. 83:135-143.
  13. Koropchak, S., W. Daniels, A. Wick, G.R. Whittecar and N. Haus. 2015. Beneficial use of dredge materials for soil reconstruction and development of dredge screening protocols. Journal of Environmental Quality doi:10.2134/jeq2014.12.0529.
  14. Orndorff, Z., W. Daniels, C. Zipper, M. Eick and M. Beck. 2015. A column evaluation of Appalachian coal mine spoils’ temporal leaching behavior. Environmental Pollution 204: 39-47. 
  15. Yarwood, S., A. Wick, M. Williams and W.L. Daniels. 2015. Parent material and vegetation influence early soil microbial community establishment following 30-years of rock weathering. Microbial Ecology 69: 383-94. 
  16. Layman, R.M., S.D. Day, D. K. Mitchell, Y. Chen, J. R. Harris, and W. L. Daniels. 2016. Below ground matters: Urban soil rehabilitation increases tree canopy and speeds establishment. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 15:1-5.
  17. Nash, W.L., W.L. Daniels, K.C. Haering, J.A. Burger, and C.E. Zipper. 2016. Long-term effects of rock type on Appalachian coal mine soil properties. J. Environ. Qual. 45(5):1597-1606.
  18. Daniels, W.L., C.E. Zipper, Z.W. Orndorff, J. Skousen, C.D. Barton, L.M. McDonald, and M.A. Beck. 2016. Predicting total dissolved solids release from central Appalachian coal mine spoils. Environ. Pollut. 216: 371-379.
  19. Clark, E.V., C.E. Zipper, W.L. Daniels, Z.W. Orndorff, and M.J. Keefe. 2017. Modeling patterns of total dissolved solids release from central Appalachia, USA, mine spoils. J. Environ. Qual. 46: 55-63.
  20. Clark, E.V., W. L. Daniels, C.E. Zipper and K.A. Eriksson.  2018. Mineralogical influences on water quality from weathering of surface coal mine spoils. Applied Geochemistry 91: 97-106.
  21. Clark, E.V., C.E. Zipper, W.L. Daniels and M.J. Keefe. 2018. Appalachian coal mine spoil elemental release patterns and depletion. Applied Geochemistry 98: 87-106.