School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois
James Nardi, PhD is a research scientist in entomology in the School of Integrative Biology at the University of Illinois. Dr. Nardi is a renowned author of books on soil biology and gardening. His book, Discoveries in the Garden and Life in the Soil—A Guide for Naturalists and Gardeners, leads the reader through topics from seeds to plant parts to plant physiology to ecology—all following a trail of scientific discovery. It is a hands-on learning experience that, unlike other field guides, examines each soil organism in relation to others and their importance to farmers and gardeners. Dr. Nardi relates plant biology to the soil, insects, and other consumers, and the above-ground and below-ground food webs that shape plants and their communities. In contrast to prevailing opinions of weeds, Discoveries in the Garden values the “wisdom of the weeds”—not only for what we can learn from them, but also for their contributions, including protecting the soil from erosion; conserving nutrients; building soil structure, organic matter, and mineral content; supporting soil biology; sequestering carbon; and encouraging biodiversity.