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At an early stage of my career, in addition to my academic background (BSc in Biology, MSc in Natural Resources), my knowledge of the long-term soil modifications has been informed, and my imagination sustained, by the collaboration as research assistant on a number of projects on soil formation and paleoenvironmental reconstruction at the Department of Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry of the University of Santiago de Compostela. This spanned six years of research experience before my PhD, which provided me with technical skills both in field and laboratory work, as well as expertise in data analysis and strong background on soils science and statistics.
My PhD thesis entitled "Caracterización de la podzolización en ambiente boreal, templado y tropical y su influencia en la inmovilización de metales" earned me the nomination for Doctorate Extraordinary Award at the Faculty of Biology of the University of Santiago de Compostela in 2011. As indicated by the title, my dissertation explored the effects of environmental factors on podzolization process under boreal (Sweden), temperate (Spain) and tropical (Brazil) conditions.
While working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute of Heritage Sciences, I led the project ‘Origin and evolution of the agrarian Galician landscape from the study of paleoenvironmental archives'. It relied on the principle that under ideal circumstances, the knowledge on past environments would help us to define the range states of a given system through time as well as the factors (natural/anthropogenic) involved in its evolution.
I’ve also made use of this scientific approach in some other projects in different geographic areas worldwide and, given extra time, I could say much more about them. But I should stress that, today, my broadscale interests have evolved towards a more specific focus on how to deal with the increasing stresses we subject the land to, particularly from the point of view of the effects on the resource on which civilization is built: the soil. In this respect, I am committed to the study of the ways in which soils data can be used jointly with archaeological, ethnographic and paleoenvironmental knowledge for informing current debates on agricultural sustainability. This can be achieved by assessing the relationships between soil properties and traditional land use and management, and thereby transcending the traditional soils view. This is the aim of tRRACES: Resistance and Resilience of ancient agricultural soils, which is the Marie Curie Individual Fellowships project that I currently lead at the University. It consists of a multidisciplinary, soils-based reconstruction of the evolution of agroecosystems in four contrasted regions (Atacama Desert, Chile, Konso, Ethiopia, Engaruka, Tanzania, Galicia, Spain).
My Marie Curie project, tRRACES, and now my current role with AAREA combines new information on soils evolution and current soil health (comprising fertility and microbiological diversity data), with available archaeological, ethnographic and paleoenvironmental knowledge, in order to assess the sustainability of these systems under changing climatic and socioeconomic scenarios. Of special importance was both the incorporation of indigenous knowledge from traditional societies with long histories of surviving the challenges of everyday living and working, and the potential contribution to policy development.
-C. Ferro Vázquez; C, Lang; J, Kaal and D. Stump. 2017.When is a terrace not a terrace? The importance of understanding landscape evolution in studies of terraced agriculture. Journal of Environmental Management. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479717300543
-C. Ferro Vázquez; A. Martínez Cortizas; J.C. Nóvoa Muñoz; P. Ballesteros Arias; F. Criado Boado, 2014. 1500 years of soil use from the chemical properties of a polycyclic terraced soil. Quaternary International. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quaint.2014.03.023
- T. Taboada, L. Rodríguez Lado, C. Ferro Vázquez, G. Stoops, A. Martínez Cortizas. 2016. Chemical weathering in the volcanic soils of Isla Santa Cruz (Galápagos Islands, Ecuador). Geoderma. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2015.07.019
- A. Martínez Cortizas, L. Rodríguez Lado, C. Ferro Vázquez, J. Kaal, H. Biester, M. Costa Casais, T. Taboada. 2016. Bromine accumulation in acidic black colluvial soils. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2015.11.013
- Cruz Ferro Vázquez, Serafín González Prieto, Antonio Martínez Cortizas, Felipe Criado Boado, 2015. Deciphering the evolution of agrarian technologies during the last ~1600 years using the isotopic fingerprint (δ13C, δ15N) of a polycyclic terraced soil. 2015. Quaternary Studies. http://www.apeq.pt/ojs/index.php/apeq/article/view/163.
- Ó. Lantes Suárez; B. Prieto Lamas; P. Prieto Martínez; C. Ferro Vázquez; A. Martínez Cortizas. The colour of ceramics from Bell Beaker contexts in NW Spain: relation to elemental composition and mineralogy. 2015. Journal of Archaeological Science. Elsevier. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2014.11.032
- A. Feal Pérez; R. Blanco Chao; C. Ferro Vázquez; M. Costa Casais; A. Martínez Cortizas. 2014. Late Holocene storm imprint in a coastal sedimentary sequence (Northwest Iberian coast). The Holocene. http://dx.doi.org/110.1177/0959683613520257
- C. Ferro Vázquez; J.C. Nóvoa Muñoz; M. Costa Casais; J. Klaminder; A. Martínez Cortizas. 2014. Metal and organic matter immobilization in temperate podzols: a high-resolution study. Geoderma. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2013.10.006