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Veronica Acosta-Martinez

Soil Scientist

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Dr. Veronica Acosta-Martinez

Soil Microbiologist and Biochemist 

Cropping Systems Research Laboratory        

Wind Erosion & Water Conservation Unit

3810 4th Street
Lubbock, Tx 79415
Voice: 806-749-5560                                                                       Fax: 806-723-5271


Dr. Veronica Acosta-Martinez is a Research Soil Scientist (Microbiologist/Biochemist) working at the WEWC unit for the past 17 years. Her research is focused in obtaining a better understanding of the soil microbial component as affected by the complex interactions of management selections and climate extremes as an indicator of soil health and functions related to biogeochemical cycling, organic matter dynamics and productivity in semi-arid climates. Dr. Acosta-Martinez leads the Soil Biology Group comprised of fifteen ARS scientists within the Greenhouse gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement network (GRACEnet) to provide information of specific organisms - and processes they govern - to select sustainable agricultural practices across the nation. She is part of different efforts to provide a national soil health assessment with the Soil Health Institute and NRCS-Soil Health Division. She is one of 40 collaborators in the Ogallala Water Coordinated Agricultural (OWCAP) interdisciplinary research and outreach project to address issues of water decline and long-​term agricultural sustainability across the Ogallala aquifer region. She is Associate Editor of different scientific journals related to soil ecology, and hold adjunct faculty positions at Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Alabama A&M University, and University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez Campus. 

2000             Ph.D. Iowa State University, Agronomy Department, Major in Soil Science. 
1997             M.S. Purdue University, Agronomy Department, Major in Soil Science.             
1994             B.S. University of Puerto Rico, Biology Department, Major in Industrial
Adjunct Faculty Positions
Texas Tech University, for the Department of Biological Sciences ( and the Department of Plant & Soil Sciences (
Alabama A&M University, Normal, AL; The Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (


Associate Editor Positions
  • Soil Biology & Biochemistry (2009-Present)
  • Agronomy Journal (2007-2013)
  • Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (2012-Present)
  • Citrevista for Iberoamerican research (2005-Present)
  • Applied Soil Ecology (2007-Present)


Researcher for Multi-Location/Disciplinary Projects 

ARS Gas Reduction through Agricultural Carbon Enhancement (GRACEnet) project, 2006-present. The objective of this large, multi-member, and multi-disciplinary team is to conduct research and relevant assessments focused on assuring sustainable agricultural activities in the U.S. by accomplishing atmospheric carbon dioxide reduction through agricultural carbon enhancement of soils. GRACEnet

Texas Alliance for Water Conservation Project, 2005-present. This multi-institutional and -disciplinary research initiative is funded through the Texas Water Development Board to maximize water conservation in Texas under different cropping and livestock management systems. More than 26 producers participate in this effort. Dr. Acosta-Martinez works with Dr. Chuck West from Texas Tech University to provide information on soil quality/microbial changes as affected by potential alternative water management strategies in the Texas High Plains. Texas Alliance for Water Conservation

The Ogallala Aquifer Initiative, 2003-present. TA research consortium between USDA-ARS, Kansas State University, Texas AgriLife Research and Extension, Texas State University and West Texas A&M University to evaluate water management strategies and technologies for maintaining and/or enhancing the economic viability of the agriculture industry and the vitality of the Southern Ogallala Aquifer region.

Ogallala Water Research Consortium: USDA-NIFA research effort (PI, Meagan Schipanski from Colorado State University) includes a group of 40 collaborators from 8 universities and our agency (USDA-ARS) across 6 states are together to identify and develop viable strategies, practices, and technologies for agricultural producers and rural communities critical to build long-term adaptive management capacity in the Ogallala aquifer. Drs. Acosta-Martinez, Amanda Cano and Chuck West will provide an assessment of soil health across the Ogallala aquifer to assist in the selection of management practices that effectively save water and our soils.


My Team

Laboratory Staff: 



Jon Cotton is a research associate responsible for supervising the lab staff during experiments and field work to assist in all phases (data collection and statistical analyses) of experimentation for different projects/collaborations. An example of a project Jon is currently supervising is a soil health tracking study in 7 producer fields under differing management, with sampling occurring frequently during and after extreme climatic events (i.e., post record drought/heat wave of 2011, heat waves of 2016). Our goal is to better understand soil microbial diversity and its impact on soil processes related to drought and the sustainability of agricultural production to adapt to climate change. 


Amanda Cano is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate working under Ogallala Water CAP (NIFA-USDA) project with 6 states and 9 institutions focused on agricultural sustainability in the Ogallala Aquifer region. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology at Texas Tech University in 2016 with her dissertation work on carbon nanomaterials and their toxicity, fate, and trophic transfer in the environment. In her current post-doc appointment, she will be working in two research objectives of this project: 1) she is working with Dr. Chuck West of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Texas Tech University to develop and identify new technologies for precision irrigation that improve water use efficiency and have the greatest potential for adoption, and 2) she will help us in the soil microbiology lab at USDA-ARS to characterize the soil health along 6 different states of the Ogallala Aquifer Region in order to recommend better management practices and usage of water in relation to a changing climate.

Laboratory Student Aids


            Amanda Metzler, Biological Science Aid        

            Jorge Penso, Biological Science Aid

            Terry Grimard, Biological Science Technician, 2002-2004

            Kyle James, Biological Science Aid, 2002-2004

            Sheena Embry, Biological Science Aid 2003-2006

            Cassidy Sooter, Biological Science Aid, 2006

            Stacy Riker, Biological Science Aid, 2004-2007

            Megan Moore, Biological Science Aid, 2006-2008

            Dana Henderson, Biological Science Aid, 2006-2008

            Kayla Hodges, Biological Science Aid, 2008-2010

            Robert Box, Biological Science Aid, 2008-2010

            Katelyn Mortensen, Biological Science Aid, 2008-2012

            Dr. Terrance Gardner, Post-doc Research Assistant, 2010-2012

            Scott Weeks, Biological Science Aid, 2010-2013

            Kevin Evenson, Biological Science Aid, 2011-2013


Summer Interns-University of Puerto Rico


            Robert McPhail Medina

            Luis Genaro Sierra


            Christian Avilez Vasquez

            Robert McPhail Medina


            Lionel Cruz Rodriguez

            Jose Noel Feliciano Maldonado


            Noelia Velazquez Montalvo

            Emerita Garcia Pizarro


Graduate Students           

Texas Tech University           

(Dr. John Zak, Biological Sciences):


            Diana Vargas, Ph.D. Biology, In Progress

            Nirmala Dhungana, Ph.D. Biology, 2013

            Apolinar Ortiz, M.S. Biology, 2011

            Kyle J. Haralson, M.S. Biology, 2010

            Heath Grizzle, Ph.D. Biology, 2010

            Shashi Kumar, Ph.D. Biology, 2009

            Colin Bell, Ph.D. Biology, 2009

            Brandon Melester, M.S. Biology, 2009


(Dr. Jennifer Moore-Kucera, Plant and Soil Science):

            Chenhui Li, Ph.D. Soil Science, In Progress

            Mamatha Kakarla, Ph.D. Soil Science, In Progress

            Jon Cotton, M.S. Soil Science, 2012

            Marko Davinic, Ph.D. Soil Science, 2010


(Dr. Jaclyn Cañas-Carrell, Environmental Toxicology):


            Babina Shrestha, Ph.D. Environmental Toxicology, 2010


University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus (Dr. Elvira Cuevas, Biology):

            Michelle Rivera, Ph.D. Biology, In Progress


University of Tennessee (Dr. Neal Eash, Biosystems Engineering & Soil Science):

            Lilian Mbuthia, Ph.D. Soil Science, 2015


Texas A & M University-Kingsville (Dr. David Wester, Animal, Rangeland and Wildlife Sciences):

            Joshua Grace, Ph.D. Rangeland and Wildlife, In Progress

            Mylea Lovell, M.S. Rangeland and Wildlife, 2014


Alabama A & M University Dr. Zachary Senwo, Biological and Environmental Sciences):

            Terrence Gardner, Ph.D. Soil Science, 2010