Meet Dr. Daniel Hirmas, a professor and B.L. Allen Chair of Pedology at Texas Tech University who researches the mechanistic linkages between soil structure, climate, distribution of coarse fragments, fire frequency, dust, and subsurface boundary conditions on the development of soil hydraulic properties.
Meet Dr. Hirmas, who has achieved a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Texas A&M University, a Master’s Degree in Soil Science from Texas Tech University, and a PhD in Soil and Water Sciences from the University of California. From 2008 to 2018, he was an Assistant Professor, and then Associate Professor, in the Department of Geography and Atmospheric Science at the University of Kansas. Afterwards, he became an Associate Professor of Pedology at the University of California – Riverside in the Department of Environmental Sciences until 2022. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech University in 2023.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Dallas/Ft. Worth area in Texas
Where did your interest in soil science start?
After finishing my undergraduate degree in Biology from Texas A&M University, I took a job at A&L Laboratories in Lubbock, TX, as a lab technician testing water, soils, and cotton seed. It was there that I got introduced to soils, and after about a year and encouragement from my boss, Dr. Gene Coleman, I decided to take an introductory soils course at Texas Tech University to learn more about soil science. That course was taught by the late Dr. B.L. Allen, and it was in the first lecture that I fell in love with soils and decided that I wanted to study for the rest of my career.
What are your current areas of research?
My students and I address how climate, geomorphic processes, and land use interact with soils to give rise to soil morphological properties. We inquire into how these properties affect soil genesis, the evolution of pore networks, soil hydrology, and the spatial distribution of soil mineral and organic components across scales. Through several research projects, we are examining the mechanistic linkages between soil structure, climate, distribution of coarse fragments, fire frequency, dust, and subsurface boundary conditions on the development of soil hydraulic properties.
How do you plan to use the PR16 Permeameter?
My research assesses soil physical and hydrological properties in the field and on intact soil samples. We especially focus on hydraulic conductivity and the water retention curve. I plan to use the new PR16 in conjunction with tension disk infiltrometry to automate and improve the accuracy and precision of hydraulic conductivity measurements under different tensions.
What do you do when not doing research or teaching?
I enjoy spending time with my wife and three daughters, grilling, and carpentry when I get the chance.
Congratulations to Dr. Hirmas for winning SoilMoisture’s PR16 Permeameter at the recent ASA/CSSA/SSSA conference in St. Louis! We look forward to seeing the up-and-coming research developments of his work in the coming years.