Working to Ensure Research Is Engaged with the Public

Andrew Margenot

Associate Professor, Crop Sciences

Andrew Margenot

Addressing a Societal Problem to Contribute to the Public Good

Margenot examines the monitoring and management of soils as natural capital. To this end, he evaluates how human activities can enhance or compromise soil services to human societies, with an emphasis on food security from urban and rural agroecosystems across the globe. He partners with farmers in Illinois and internationally. When he was a doctoral candidate studying soil in Africa, his advisor told him to first get to know the farmers. By partnering with farmers and truly listening to them, he believes his research is more effective.

Mutually Beneficial Exchange of Knowledge and Resources

Margenot works closely with farmers. Occasionally, he presents to farm groups on relevant topics, but he also attends presentations by and for farmers. He recruits farmers to aid in his research during presentations. He recognizes that farmers have a lot to share but also a lot to lose since they are busy and their time is precious. Margenot’s ability to develop strong partnerships with farmers demonstrates their shared, reciprocal relationship with one another.

Collaboration with Communities or Organizations

At the state level, he partners with the Illinois Farm Bureau, which helps him establish relationships with farmers throughout the state. He works with the Illinois Soybean Association on several projects that have public distribution as a goal. He often conducts in-person and online presentations for farmers. During these presentations, he learns about the needs and experiences of farmers.


Margenot has conducted a research study about lead in the soil of Chicago neighborhoods, which resulted in a study commissioned by the Chicago mayor’s office. Chicago media outlets covered his work extensively, resulting in a number of inquiries from individuals. He uncovered soil samples that date back to the Civil War era, the oldest known soil collection in the world. He has received more than $680,000 in funding to analyze the samples and collect current soil samples from the same plots of land to examine the changes in the soil over time. To this end, private residents, including many farmers, from across the state reached out to Margenot stating their excitement to assist in the project.



Margenot publishes his research in peer-reviewed journals. He also presents his research at national conferences. He has received internal and external funding to support his research. The latter includes funding from the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council and the National Science Foundation.


Margenot has co-authored manuscripts with community members—primarily farmers—about their collaborative research projects. He has delivered dozens of training sessions and webinars to farmers, policymakers and other stakeholders. He also has several presentations recorded on YouTube for public consumption, more than 8,000 individuals have viewed the videos. He has been contacted by individuals across the globe as a result of his recorded presentations.

Additional Resources

To learn more about Dr. Margenot’s publicly engaged research, visit the links below.