Noorallah Juma, Curator, Soil Science Collections
“It was through Noorallah’s passion and his untiring efforts to fund and develop the Soil Science Collections that the University of Alberta now has a superior collection of soil science materials, preserving the legacy of soil scientists’ work over nearly 100 years, making them available for teaching at all levels.” - J.A. Robertson, former Curator, Soil Science Collections
Dr. Noorallah Juma served as the Curator of the Soil Science Collections from 1999 to 2008. As important as soils are in our natural environment, to ecosystems, and to industries such as agriculture and forestry, they are surprisingly poorly understood by the public. They are natural objects with their own distinctive characteristics and properties, elucidated for students by the Soil Science Collection, with which Dr. Juma worked to make accessible to students at all levels. An engaging, charismatic, and passionate individual, Dr. Juma has always advocated that soil is not dirt but rather the “skin of the earth.”
Dr. Juma worked to preserve these monoliths, providing access through highly visible and easily understood exhibits and by digitizing the collection, making it available online for researchers around the world. He put enormous energy into conceptualizing, finding funds, and developing a unified and coherent display from a number of disparate collections and sources.
Over his decade of working with the collections, Dr. Juma was instrumental in completing several significant projects, most notably of which are the following: making the inventory of the soil monolith collections accessible online; recognizing the soil science pioneers; mounting the exhibit of more than 100 soil monoliths in the Earth Sciences Building, increasing visibility and accessibility for students and instructors; and developing major educational resources to enhance the collections, ultimately leading to our increased understanding of the world around us and underneath our feet.