Location & dates Virtual 4 - 5 Nov 2020
Deadlines Registration closed

EMBL Courses and Conferences during the Coronavirus pandemic

With the onsite programme paused, many of our events are now being offered in virtual formats.

Registration is open as usual for many events, with back-up plans in place to move further courses and conferences online as necessary. Registration fees for any events affected by the COVID-19 disruption are fully refundable.

More information for participants of events at EMBL Heidelberg can be found here.


Diana H. Wall
Colorado State University, USA

Soil biodiversity and human health: An emerging research priority


Soils, a mostly forgotten part of our living world, are home to an estimated 25% of earth’s biodiversity. Scientists are finding that soil microbes and invertebrates working together support human health in many ways, growing food, filtering water, regulating pests and pathogens and as a source of antibiotics and medicines. Threats to soil biodiversity are increasing and include climate change, land use change, soil sealing, and pollution. These threats alter soil habitats, affect species diversity and the complex interactions of soil communities. As the world works toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Agenda, networks of scientists are accelerating efforts to make vital connections to soil biodiversity and human health and promote expert knowledge in environmental policy and land management. This talk explores the urgent need to address and understand the many invertebrates and microbes as contributors to our health and well-being.


Diana Wall is an ecologist and environmental scientist recognized for her research exploring soil biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in many ecosystems from the Amazon to Antarctica. Her research has emphasized how life in soil, from microbes to invertebrates, contributes to ecosystem services and benefits life. Diana’s more than 25 years of research studying soil nematodes, the most abundant animal in the Antarctic Dry Valleys, continues to clarify critical links between climate change and soil biodiversity. In recognition of her contributions, Wall Valley, Antarctica was named. Diana combines her Antarctic research, a place where species diversity is much reduced and physical limits to life are extreme, with tropical, grassland and global field studies having immense and abundant soil biodiversity and species.

Diana is currently Scientific Chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. She received the 2013 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, and was honored as the 2017 Eminent Ecologist, Ecological Society of America and the 2019 President’s Medal, British Ecological Society. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, received the Ulysses Medal, University College, Dublin, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from Utrecht University, The Netherlands. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.