Usually when you pot a plant or plant a tree, you’re not thinking about the components that make up the soil. But for Dr. Michael Aide, soil is more than just a pile of dirt. Aide has taught courses like environmental science and soil science at Southeast for 23 years. As a former member of the Peace Corps, Aide discovered a radical need for land stewardship. This led him to pursue his academic interests in soil evolution and metal uptake by plants.
After receiving his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Aide pursued teaching because he said it would allow him to apply science in a way that could help teach humankind. In the classroom, Aide likes to engage in lecture interactions with his students, and help them use the laboratory as a means to discovery. His basic philosophy on teaching is to help students see the big picture and then supplement that picture with extra detail.
Aide enjoys spending time performing research, and recently traveled to the Beartooth Mountains of Montana for a soil mapping project. He has studied soils and learned more about the various environmental problems that affect all areas of the United States, Canada’s Arctic region and most of Southeast Asia.
“Part of what is great about science is being able to be the first person to see the data come together and create the whole picture right before your eyes,” Aide said.
Aide’s next project is to work with developing iron nodules in southern Mississippi soils. He also wants to extrapolate the findings to laterite soils in Central and South America. He understands there is more to soil than meets the eye. Soil science involves chemistry, biology, economics and sociology and often requires Aide to extensively read a diverse amount of educational material.
After performing extensive field research during his time at Southeast, Aide advises his students to make sure they know how to interact with a variety of people. This is important, he says, because field work usually involves traveling to different parts of the country and even the world.