See recent news and stories about important work happening in phosphorous sustainability and with the people involved in STEPS.

Jacob Jones in his research laboratory

STEPS Joins a Prestigious Class of NSF Science and Technology Centers

The newly awarded Center will use a convergence research approach to accelerate fundamental scientific discoveries and the development of novel and sustainable technologies and practices to control, recover, reuse and manage phosphorus.

See The Announcement
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STEPS Launches New Twitter Account

STEPS is venturing into the world of social media with a new Twitter account. We invite you to engage with us!

Follow STEPS
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New Job Opportunities in STEPS

STEPS is seeking highly qualified staff applicants for positions in the Center's headquarters at NC State: Diversity Coordinator, Business Officer, and Administrative Assistant

Join the STEPS Team
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Accepting Abstracts for Phosphorus Chemistry Session at ACS Spring Meeting

STEPS team members have organized a session at the ACS Spring Meeting: Advancing Phosphorus Chemistry for Sensing, Removing, and Recovering Phosphorus. Abstracts for this session are due on October 11.

Submit An Abstract
Tidewater Research Station

Phosphorus-Focused Session at American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

STEPS researchers have organized a session at the AGU Fall meeting entitled “Convergent research to manage human interactions with the phosphorus cycle” this December. Invited speakers include STEPS team member Luke Gatiboni and collaborator Elise Morrison.

Register For The Meeting
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FlashPhos, Recovery of Phosphorus From Sludge

"FlashPhos" is a new 15M Euro project to optimize an industrial test facility (TRL of 6-7) to recover the phosphorus from sewage sludge.

More On FlashPhos
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Rebecca Muenich Receives Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award!

Rebecca Muenich, Assistant Professor in Arizona State's School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, received a 2021 ASU Faculty Women’s Association Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.

More About Becca's Mentoring
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Nelson Receives NSF CAREER Award

Natalie Nelson, Assistant Professor in Biological and Agricultural Engineering at NC State, was recently awarded an NSF CAREER grant. Her research will focus on using sensor data to monitor water dynamics and better predict water quality after tidal flooding.

More About Natalie's Award
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Nutrient Optimization and Reducing Runoff

Jim Elser recently joined Dan Poston on Larta Institute's Deeper Dive podcast to discuss how innovation can play a key role in improved nutrient optimization and how nutrient efficiency and management can reduce nutrient runoff.

Listen to the Podcast
Model of Phosphorus Uptake by Plants

Legacy Phosphorus Uptake by Plants Relies on Fertilization History

Luke Gatiboni and his team recently published work exploring how different phosphorus (P) fractions in soils contribute to plant uptake. They found that all soil P fractions can potentially provide plants with P depending on P fertilization history.

How Do Plants Access Legacy Phosphorus?
Phosphorus-binding protein selective adsorption of Phosphorus

Immobilized Phosphate-Binding Protein (PBP) Highly Selective for Phosphorus

Recent work from Brooke Mayer's group at Marquette demonstrated that phosphate-binding protein could selectively adsorb phosphorus even in solutions containing high concentrations of arsenate, which has a similar molecular structure.

More about PBPs
Photo of Professor Ross Sozzani in front of greenhouse

Ross Sozzani Named Director of Plant Improvement Platform for Plant Sciences Initiative

Ross Sozzani, associate professor in NC State’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, is known for her work in plant development and stem cell regulation, and her research interest is at the interface of computational and biological sciences.

Get to Know Ross
Shelf of library books

Shared Phosphorus Sustainability Library

The STEPS team is currently developing a public Zotero library that includes seminal works for the advancement of convergence science and phosphorus sustainability. The library-in-progress is available at the link below; we invite your contributions. Please send relevant citations to

Visit the Library
Photo of Jim Elser's book, "Phosphorus: Past and Future"

Jim Elser's New Phosphorus Book Released

In "Phosphorus: Past and Future", world authorities on phosphorus sustainability Jim Elser and Phil Haygarth explain Phosphorus's involvement in biology, human health and nutrition, food production, ecosystem function, and environmental sustainability. The book provides an insider's take on this essential resource and why all of us need to wrestle with the wicked problems this element will cause, illuminate, or eliminate in years to come.

Hear From the Authors
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FEAST of Biosensors

Eric McLamore and colleagues recently published a review paper that focuses on innovations in food, environmental, agricultural, and related core sensing technology meta-domains.

Find Out More
Graphic demonstrating bias correction of climate model outputs influences watershed model nutrient load predictions

Bias Correction of Model Outputs Influences Nutrient Load Predictions

Recent work out of Rebecca Muenich's lab demonstrates the impact of bias correcting climate model output on watershed model nutrient load prediction. Bias correction was found to influence hydrological processes and historical and future nutrient load predictions.

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Professor Natalie Nelson presents her research

Natalie Nelson Named NC State Faculty Scholar

NC State's University Faculty Scholars Program recognizes and rewards emerging academic leaders who demonstrate significant achievement. This year's cohort includes STEPS's Natalie Nelson. Dr. Nelson is an Assistant Professor of Data Analytics and Integrated Modeling in the Biological & Agricultural Engineering Department. Research in Nelson's lab takes a data-intensive, management-focused, and interdisciplinary approach to the study of complex biological system dynamics.

Learn More about the Scholars Program

Big Data's FRST Step in Environmental Stewardship

NC State Professor Deanna Osmond, who helped to initiate STEPS, led a multi-university team in creating the Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST). The primary goal of FRST is to increase soil testing transparency by promoting clear and consistent interpretations of fertilizer recommendations by providing the best possible science in order to enhance end-user adoption of nutrient management recommendations.

Find Out More About FRST
global phosphorus flows diagram

Accessing Legacy Phosphorus in Soils

STEPS team members collaborated on a recent review paper that highlights the (1) current knowledge on the occurrence and bioaccessibility of phosphorus in soil, (2) legacy phosphorus transformations with fertilizer applications in relation to their potential bioaccessibility, and (3) approaches and challenges for accessing native soil phosphorus for crop production.

Learn More about Legacy Phosphorus
Farmer in front of field of corn

More Transparency Recommended for Gene-Edited Crops

STEPS team member Dr. Khara Grieger recently published a policy forum paper with Dr. Jennifer Kuzma in the journal Science calling for a coalition of various stakeholders to work together to provide basic information about gene-edited crops to lift the veil on how plants or plant products are modified and the use of gene editing in food supplies.

Why Is Transparency Needed?
Ross Sozzani headshot

STEPS Co-Director Ross Sozzani Awarded AccelNet Grant

This catalytic-level project (Accelerate Integration of Engineering and Agricultural Research using Artificial Intelligence, AI2EAR) will promote strategies to improve yield, reduce crop loss, decrease crop resource demands, and increase food nutrition.

Find Out More
Aerial photo of Caspian Sea

New "Phosphorus Science Now!" Video

Hear the Sustainable Phosphorus Alliance's discussion with Dr. Rich McDowell of Lincoln University in New Zealand. They explored his 2020 Geosciences Data Journal paper "Global database of diffuse riverine nitrogen and phosphorus loads and yields".

Follow the Discussion
Paul Westehoff

Paul Westerhoff Honored with 2020 A.P. Black Research Award

STEPS researcher Paul Westerhoff received the 2020 A.P. Black Research Award from the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

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Nelson with students

Natalie Nelson named Early-Career Research Fellow of the National Academies' Gulf Research Program

Natalie Nelson, assistant professor in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department and principal investigator of the Biosystems Analytics Lab, is one of 20 fellowship recipients.

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hurricane from space

Lessening Water Quality Problems Caused by Hurricane-related Flooding

Rising waters from hurricanes can make wastewater treatment plants, sewers, hazardous waste sites, agricultural lands and animal feeding operations overflow, carrying pollutants into waterways.

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Dr. Christine Ogilvie Hendren

Hendren named director of App State Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics

After a national search, Dr. Christine Ogilvie Hendren has been named director of Appalachian State University’s Research Institute for Environment, Energy, and Economics (RIEEE).

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ASU and MCC team up with USDA research service to expand agriculture education

Mesa Community College and Arizona State University have partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Arid Lands Agricultural Research Center (ALARC) to create new opportunities for agriculture education in the Valley. The collaboration, a result of a three-year, $682,313 grant, created the urban-agriculture nexus project, a course of study between ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and the MCC Sustainable Agriculture program.

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Call receives prestigious CAREER Award

Dr. Douglas Call received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award. The overall goal of Call’s CAREER project is to protect human and environmental health by developing treatment technologies that more completely degrade toxic organic pollutants in a cost-effective manner. Call’s primary focus will be on degrading chlorinated solvents, a broad class of chemicals used in everyday products such as paints, pesticides, and cleaning solutions.

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Two trees with and without groundcover

Fabric Mulch Groundcovers Save Water

Water and nutrient management in Florida citrus is a challenging problem. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) team is analyzing fabric mulch groundcovers for young lemon trees on a commercial scale. During the last year, the use of groundcovers has shown water savings of 50 percent when combined with soil moisture sensor irrigation scheduling.

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Student in maize field

Álvarez's A-maize-ing Research

Rubén Rellán-Álvarez brings plenty of diverse thought, creativity and teaching to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Department of Molecular and Structural Biochemistry. Prior to joining CALS in January 2019, Álvarez started a lab in Mexico in 2015 at the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity.

Learn More about Maize