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Who We Are

IN-RICHES is a multi-disciplinary collaboration with contributions from CSU Agricultural Experiment Stations, CSU Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, and Ground Up Consulting. It is a project of CSU Spur.


Megan Machmuller


Dr. Machmuller is a research scientist in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences at Colorado State University. Megan has a passion for understanding the fascinating complexity of our natural world and identifying the fundamental ecological and biogeochemical processes that underpin resilient and sustainable ecosystems. Her research aims to address how climate change and management practices influence plant-microbial interactions, soil health, and carbon sequestration. She enjoys working with a diverse group of stakeholders to advance holistic and sustainable policies and programs that promote regenerative and resilient agricultural systems. Megan received her BS in Biology from Creighton University and PhD in Ecology from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia and served as a USDA NIFA postdoctoral fellow prior to her current position at CSU.

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Helen D. Silver

With more than 15 years of experience in environmental and natural resource policy, Helen’s dedication to soils results from the fact that soil health has been at the core of many of the environmental issues she has worked on. She began her career as an environmental attorney representing a wide variety of clients from nonprofits, corporations, and governmental entities. Her primary areas of focus included international environmental law, litigation under the Clean Water and Clean Air Act, and climate change policy.  After several years of private and non-profit practice, Helen received her Masters in Sustainability and Environmental Management.  Since coming to Colorado in 2018, she has devoted her professional career to promoting soil health and sustainable food systems and is an adjunct professor at Harvard Extension School where she teaches a soil health class.  When she’s not working, Helen can generally be found in the mountains fly fishing, hiking, and mountain biking.


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Steve Blecker

Steve developed a lifelong interest in soils during his time as an undergraduate at Penn State University, and followed that with an M.S. and PhD in soil science from Colorado State University focusing on pedology and biogeochemistry in grassland systems. Since then he has worked in multidisciplinary teams throughout the Western U.S. in academia, federal land management agencies, and state regulatory agencies helping land managers understand the potential impacts of scientific research and regulations. Measuring and monitoring soil health through the study and development of soil and ecosystem health indices for rangeland systems in Wyoming, Nevada and California has been a challenging and rewarding part of his career. His soil health work continues through numerous projects across the various agroecosystems and grazing lands of Colorado.


Max Neumeyer

Max comes to this work after a career as a science teacher and a graduate degree in public policy focused on soil health policy for Colorado. After graduation, Max helped lead the Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils in order to explore a new direction for soil health. That work resulted in a framework for a Colorado soil health program that became the STAR+ program. Max is now a principal of Ground Up Consulting LLC where he works in close partnership with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, conservation districts and other eligible entities, philanthropic and other partners to implement STAR+ and develop other soil health programming for the arid West.

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Lexi Firth

Lexi comes to IN-RICHES with a background in ecology and natural resource management. An early interest in the interplay of wildlife conservation and agricultural systems inspired a 2-year stent working as a small organic farmer in rural NM. Her experiences farming combined with her education in ecology motivated Lexi to pursue a MSc. at Mississippi State University investigating integrated agricultural-wildlife systems. She then went on to compete her Ph.D. in 2022, specializing in soil health practices, carbon cycling, and the soil microbiome. Throughout her academic career she also actively engaged with the Extension Service, bridging the gap between research, education, and producer decision making. Her commitment to healthy soils continues to fuel her work advocating for responsible land stewardship and the sustainable future of our planet.

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Jim Ippolito

Jim’s 30+ year research program focuses on improving environmental soil fertility, chemistry, quality, and health within agricultural, shortgrass steppe, overgrazed, burned, and mine land ecosystems. Jim is interested in the intimate linkages between soil macro- and micro-nutrients, trace and heavy metals, microbiological activity, and soil physical attributes, and how these factors combine to influence (agro)ecosystem sustainability and resiliency.  Jim’s research group utilizes a combination of wet chemistry and synchrotron-based analyses to discern and identify alterations in environmental relationships, and derives solutions for long-term beneficial improvements to ecosystems and ecosystem services. 

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