William I. Woods
Winner of the 2006 Robert McC. Netting Award
It gives me great pleasure to present this testimonial for Bill Woods – an individual whose work has so long crossed geography and anthropology and who embodies the spirit of the Netting Award. Bill is currently Professor of Geography, Courtesy Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Kansas University. Previously he was Professor of Geography, Affiliated Faculty Member in the Environmental Studies Program, and Director of the Office of Contract Archaeology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SUIE). He received a B.A. in anthropology in 1970 from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a M.A. in 1973 and a Ph.D. in 1986 in geography from that same institution. His education and academic career have constantly straddled the disciplines of geography and anthropology.
I’d like to share a little story about Bill. In 1993 he took a gamble on me. Bill used a SIUE internal grant to take myself, and Joe McCann, both graduate students in geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Neil Whitehead, faculty in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to the Brazilian Amazon for reconnaissance work on Terra Preta (Black Earth) soils, now known as Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE). I came along as Portuguese speaker and with a general interest in soils and people. My own research at the time took a different direction, although it has since circled back to ADE, but Bill’s has since taken off on the subject. That exploratory trip set Bill Woods off on the path that has propelled him to the forefront of ADE research. In fact Bill has become the lynchpin in ADE research. He is the co-editor of two volumes about ADE, and has coordinated the activities of American, Brazilian, and German scientists on the subject. Bill and I are now organizing a special symposium on the topic at the upcoming World Congress of Soil Science in Philadelphia, July 2006.
But ADE is not the only thing Bill is known for. Bill has been studying prehistoric cultivation throughout his career and is known for his studies of erosion of archaeological sites. Most impressively, he is the primary soil scientist at the site of Cahokia in Illinois, the largest prehistoric Indian settlement in North America. His involvement with that site is long-standing and profound. He is also well known for the development of techniques for examining soils in archaeological sites, especially the quantitative analysis of soil phosphate.
For this impressive body of work in interdisciplinary cultural ecology, I congratulate Bill Woods for the Robert McC. Netting Award.
(Using material submitted by W.M. Denevan, B.L. Turner II, and K. Mathewson)
Chicago, IL March 2006