MSU Geosystems Research Institute’s Hu earns national Young Scientist Award

Contact: Diane Godwin

Studio portrait of Jing Hu
Jing Hu (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Mississippi State assistant research professor in the Geosystems Research Institute is being recognized nationally by the Association of Chinese Soil & Plant Scientists in North America for work that, if successful, could impact climate change. The ACSPSNA recently honored Jing Hu with the 2022 Young Scientist Award at their annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.

This distinction honors outstanding achievements in education, research, innovation, development, extension, consulting and international collaboration made by an early career ACSPSNA member in the profession of agronomy, crop science and soil science.

Hu’s work mainly focuses on the macronutrient cycle, including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and emergent pollutants, such as PFAS, or Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in agricultural and downstream systems. Another aspect of Hu’s past work studied PFAS in the agroecosystem atmosphere and in wetlands. PFAS are a family of fluorinated organic compounds caused or produced by human activity. Scientific evidence suggests that their widespread occurrence in the environment correlates with adverse effects on human health and ecology.

“Agroecosystem research that supports sustainable agriculture, particularly agroecology, can address challenges such as those related to climate change, ecosystem services, food insecurity and farmers’ livelihoods, but the transition to easy-to-use sys­tems remains limited and we’re excited about the potential of Dr. Hu’s work changing that trajectory,” said Robert Moorhead, GRI director.

“Currently, we are working on a USDA-ARS funded project that supports using an uncrewed aerial system to study how we can use this technology to measure greenhouse gas emissions from cropping systems. We’re flying UAS over large acreages of farmland in a short timeframe,” Hu said. “The UAS is mounted with a carbon dioxide sensor equipped with small pumps that measure the CO2 concentrations and other sensors measuring meteorologic parameters.”

Current technologies used to measure CO2 released from the agroecosystem are very labor intensive and time consuming. Hu’s team is testing the UAS technology to discover if it is an efficient and reliable way to quickly measure CO2 and other greenhouse gases. If effective, scientists could view her work as essential to solving climate change.

After earning her Ph.D. and completing her postdoctoral work at the University of Florida, Hu began working with GRI in 2021. In her short but accomplished career, her scholarly work has been recognized by the internationally renowned publication Nature and published in its monthly journal Nature Climate Change. She has collaborated with experts in seven different countries to find answers to help farmers preserve their land, increase crop production and profit lines, while decreasing the carbon footprint on the environment.

“My research is both economic and environmental. I’m really excited about the research I’m doing here at Mississippi State. My work can promote the economic benefits of building a sustainable agroecosystem and help farmers adopt cutting edge technology to reduce costs and labor while reducing negative impacts on the environment.”

For more on MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute, visit For more about Hu’s research background, visit

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Monday, February 20, 2023 - 10:48 am