• The University of Western Australia (M087), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth


Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile



Nanthi has always been passionate about soil because "We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil under feet" (Leonardo Da Vinci: 1452-1519).

It was a case of 'right background, right people' for Nanthi, who came from farming background and graduated from the University of Western Australia under the supervision of two leading soil scientists (Professor Alan Robson and Dr Jim Barrow). That experience was the 'stepping stone' for what has become an illustrious career in soil science with a particular emphasis on soil fertility.

He has served as the Dean of Graduate Studies of the University of South Australia and as the leader of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) Programme on Prevention Technologies.  His teaching and research interests include agronomic value of manures, fertilisers and soil amendments, soil acidification, nutrient cycling, pesticide and metal pollutants interactions in soils, soil remediation and waste and waste water management.

Nanthi has supervised more than 40 postgraduate students, and was awarded the Massey University Research Medal for excellence in supervision. He has published more than 200 papers and was awarded the M.L. Leamy Award in recognition of the most meritorious contribution to soil science. Nanthi is a Fellow of the American Soil Science Society and New Zealand Soil Science Society, and is currently serving as the Associate Editor of Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology.

He says 'with continued decline in the land area available for cultivation, food security can be achieved only by safe guarding soil health in terms of its physical, biological and chemical fertility.

Nanthi and his research team have been able to identify the causes for the decline in soil health and have also developed innovative methods to improve soil health to achieve food security. As Dr Jonathan Swift once said: "whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass grown upon a spot of ground where only one grew before would deserve better of mankind".


Career Summary


Nanthi is a Professor of Environmental Chemistry in the Global Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation at The University of Newcastle, Australia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture and a Master of Science degree in Soil Science from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India, and a PhD in Soil Science from the University of Western Australia. Before joining the University of Newcastle Nanthi worked as a Professor of Soil Science at Massey University, New Zealand and the University of South Australia. He has taught Environmental and Soil Sciences both at Massey University and the University of South Australia. Nanthi’s research interests include the soil fertility management, nutrient and heavy metal transformations in soils, remediation of contaminated soils, and carbon sequestration in soils. Nanthi is a Fellow of both the American Society of Soil Science and the New Zealand Soil Science Society.

Research Expertise

Nanthi’s research field deals with the management of soil fertility for sustainable agricultural production and environmental protection. Nanthi has also been involved in research into nutrient and contaminants interactions, and the remediation of heavy metal contaminated soil. Recently he has initiated a major research work on the functional characterisation of organic matter-clay mineral interactions in relation to carbon sequestration using advanced multiple state-of-the-science nanoscale techniques including: (i) small Angle Neutron and X-Ray Scattering to characterize the surface area and size distribution of the total porosity of soil microaggregates; (ii) synchrotron-radiation based microtomography (SR-µCT) in combination with quantitative 3d-image analysis to study pore network characteristics of soil microaggregates; (iii) scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM) and Nano Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to visualize and characterise intact microaggregates; and (iv) radioactive and stable isotopic techniques to measure the priming effect and origin of soil organic matter decomposition in microaggregates.

Teaching Expertise

Nanthi has been teaching a number of papers in Soil and Environmental Sciences for BApplSc and BTech programmes. These papers include: Users Guide to Soils, Soil Properties and Processes, Soil Fertility Management, Pollutant Transport in Soils and Microbial Ecology.

Nanthi has developed paper outlines and compiled Study Guides for a number of above internal and extramural papers. He also compiled a Laboratory Manual on "Selected Methods of Analysis" which is used extensively by undergraduate and post graduate students and technicians. He has supervised more than 40 Postgraduate students from a number of countries in various aspects of natural resource management. In addition to his University teaching, Nanthi has regularly contributed to a training course dealing with sustainable management of nutrient management for fertility industry personnel.


Nanthi has established research collaboration with a number of international organisations including:

  • University of Delaware, USA and UMR CNRS-Université Paris VI, XII-IRD-AgroParisTech, France: Carbon sequestration in soils
  • Savannah River Ecology Lab, University of Georgia, SC: Contamination and its Risk Management in Complex Environmental Settings
  • Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, India: Remediation of metal contaminated soils
  • Institute of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, Federal Agricultural Research Centre, Germany: mobile and immobile water in the transport of sulphur in soils
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Vienna: training on the application of isotopic techniques in the sustainable management of soil and water resources.
  • University of La Frontera, Temuco, Chile: Mobilization of Trace elements in soils.


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

Education/Academic qualification

Soil Science, PhD, Mycorrhizal fungi, The University of Western Australia

1 Mar 197931 Mar 1983

Award Date: 31 Mar 1983

Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, MSc, Potassium bioavailability , Tamil Nadu Agricultural University

1 Jul 197430 Jun 1976

Award Date: 31 Jul 1976

Agriculture, BSc Ag, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University

1 Mar 197031 Jul 1974

Award Date: 31 Jul 1974

Industry keywords

  • Agriculture and Food
  • Environmental
  • Mining and Resources

Research expertise keywords

  • Carbon sequestration
  • Plant adaptation to environmental stress
  • Soil amendments
  • nutrient availability in soil
  • Contamination
  • Waste management
  • Biosolids
  • Composite materials
  • Water and nutrient use
  • Biochar use and carbon sequestration in agriculture
  • Toxicity of aluminium and heavy metals
  • Soil characterisation
  • Soil chemistry
  • Wastewater treatment
  • Microbial activity and nutrient cycling in agricultural soils
  • Heavy metals
  • Nanomaterials
  • Fertilisers
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Soil biochemistry


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