Penn State community grieves loss of soil scientist Henry Lin

October 02, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hangsheng "Henry" Lin, a highly respected soil scientist who was widely regarded as the founding father of hydropedology and a much-loved friend and Penn State colleague, died Sept. 26, at the age of 54 in his State College home after a battle with lung cancer.

Hangsheng "Henry" Lin

Hangsheng 'Henry' Lin

IMAGE: Penn State

Born June 17, 1965, in Shanghang, Fujian, China, he is survived by his wife, Juan "Jan" Qiu; by his two children, Alice Janet Lin and Jimmie Albert Lin, both of State College, Pennsylvania; by his mother Xiujin Qiu; and by his siblings Niansheng Lin, Rongsheng Lin, Yuping Lin, Yufeng Lin and Yuying Lin in China.

A professor of water quality and environmental science in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, Lin joined Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences in 2001. Previously, he served on the faculty at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell and at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point.

A Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America and of the Agronomy Society of America, Lin mentored more than 40 graduate students and postdocs and published more than 240 scientific articles. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in China and his doctoral degree at Texas A&M University. His most recent research focused on the soil critical zone.

Colleague Patrick Drohan, professor of pedology, called Lin one of the world’s top soil scientists who had a tremendous influence on the field of hydropedology. He recalled that Lin often brought smiles to his audiences with his highly animated presentations.

“Henry was extremely enthusiastic about promoting soil science and traveled extensively for his job,” Drohan said. “He loved soil science, nature and life. However, he often expressed to me that he did not like that this took him away so much from his family.”

Another colleague, Jack Watson, professor of soil science, soil physics and biogeochemistry, pointed out that Lin’s research program was recognized internationally for its excellence, and his teaching at Penn State was innovative and admired.

“Henry taught hydropedology and geospatial and environmental modeling, and since the subject matter for these courses is relatively new and continues to change rapidly, he developed most of the course teaching materials,” Watson said.

David Eissenstat, professor and interim head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management, noted that Lin brought in more than $5.5 million in grant money to Penn State as a researcher and had tremendous stature in his profession.

“Henry had enormous energy — even while fighting cancer over the last two years, he published 23 papers," Eissenstatt recalled. “But he will be missed much more by the Penn State community and his family for being a great friend, a trusted colleague, a devoted husband and a loving father.”

When Lin wasn’t on campus he loved spending time with his kids, walking with his wife, and singing with his friends. He attended Calvary Baptist Church.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 17, 2019