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From Maharishi University of Management

JUNE 9, 2013 • ISSUE 214

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Dr. Elaine Ingham
(Photo by Wissile Sogoyou)

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Dr. Ingham teaching the living soil class in the new Sustainable Living Center
(Photo by Wissile Sogoyou)

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Students analyzing soil samples
(Photo by Wissile Sogoyou)

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The Sustainable Living Center
(photo by Ken West)

World Renowned Soil Microbiologist
Teaches at MUM

Within the soil is an infinitely rich symphony of life. If we properly take care of the life within the soil — if we support the right balance of bacteria and other microorganisms — we can grow abundant crops that are resistant to drought, diseases, and pests and require significantly less water. And all without toxic chemical fertilizers or other additives.

This is the powerful message of Dr. Elaine Ingham, one of the world's leading soil microbiologists and adjunct professor at Maharishi University of Management.

Every spring, Dr. Ingham comes to Fairfield to teach a class on living soil in the Sustainable Living department.

“I really like the students here,” Dr. Ingham said. “I really enjoy the fact that they seem to have a much clearer idea of why they are doing things.”

Dr. Ingham first came to MUM four years ago. With her guidance the department created a degree track in applied soil ecology, a specialization students can pursue within a Sustainable Living degree. Dr. Ingham teaches one of the track’s classes on living soil and also gives weekend seminars to the community of Fairfield during her stay.

Dr. Ingham has a PhD in microbiology from Colorado State University, and she is chief scientist at Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach.

Dr. Ingham is also president and director of research at Soil Food Web, Inc., an international soil sample analysis service that grew out of her research program at Oregon State University. In addition, she lectures around the world, sits on several boards and scientific organizations, publishes scientific papers, and co-authored the USDA’s Soil Biology Primer.

The applied soil ecology track teaches students the art of composting to restore nutrition to the soils that have been depleted due to over-farming and heavy chemical use. Students learn through hands-on classwork and then fieldwork on a farm. “It’s really exciting to have this degree track for the students because there are a lot of job openings in this area,” Dr. Ingham said.

“Working with Dr. Ingham on the living soil course over the last two years has been one of the richest experiences of my life,” said student Jacob Krieger, who served as Dr. Ingham’s teaching assistant this April. “The subjects she brings forward challenge the intellect while inspiring the soul. There is a whole new phase of organic and sustainable agriculture coming about because of her research into the soil food web. To top it off, she’s pretty funny too.”

Over the past two years, several MUM students completed internships or found jobs at the Rodale Institute. “I am hoping we will have a constant flow of students coming to Rodale from here,” Dr. Ingham said. “They are a lot more interactive, more questioning, and interested. I think it’s because of Consciousness-Based education.”

Dr. Ingham has been practicing the Transcendental Meditation® technique for four years.

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