Barret Wessel is an Assistant Professor of Soil Science in the Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences (PSM). Barret earned his PhD in Soil and Watershed Science from the University of Maryland (UMD) in 2020, along with a Graduate Certificate in Historic Preservation, highlighting his dual interests in the sciences and the humanities. Prior to this, he earned his BS in Environmental Science and Technology with a Minor in Soil Science from UMD in 2014, and an AA in Environmental Science from Howard Community College in 2012.

Barret’s teaching covers everything from large lecture classes and labs to small field courses where students visit landscapes around the region. He has taught courses in environmental science, sustainability, hydrogeology, and soil science. He has been at MSU since 2022, teaching Fundamentals of Soil Science, Soil Resources, and a small field course in Soil Judging where teams of students from different universities compete against one another to characterize soils and evaluate their suitability for different land-uses. In addition to producing trained soil scientists, his teaching program focuses on improving scientific literacy and civic engagement skills for all students in his classes.

Currently, Barret conducts research in both soil science and in the science of teaching and learning (SoTL). His soil science research focuses on soil formation and distribution, tracking changes in soil properties (like organic carbon content) in response to land management decisions and practices. His SoTL work focuses on curricular development, ranging from creating and improving class activities to the design of majors and minors. His course Fundamentals of Soil Science includes a “Letter to a Legislator” assignment where students pick a topic related to the class and draft an informative and persuasive letter to an elected official based on that topic. In 2024, Barret led the development of a newly approved Minor in Environmental Soil Science at MSU. He is presently serving on the PSM Curriculum Committee to revise the majors in his department to better reflect current and future student needs.