Cynthia A. Cambardella
March 8, 1953 - September 21, 2020

Cynthia A. Cambardella

Cynthia A. Cambardella
Mar 8, 1953 - Sep 21, 2020

Cynthia A. Cambardella
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Cynthia A. Cambardella, Ames, IA, passed into the Light at her home September 21, 2020, following a difficult walk with lung cancer.

Cindy was born March 8, 1953, in Old Forge, PA. The oldest of four siblings, Cindy was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph Anthony and Eleanor (Mazeleski) Cambardella; and her brother, Louis. She is survived by her loving spouse, Janet Hartman; a brother, Bill (Michele) of Reading, PA; sister, Mary (John) Kamberger of Clear Lake, IA; and their families.

As a talented, spirited and independent young woman, Cindy earned a B.S. in Microbiology and Chemistry from the University of Maryland (College Park, MD) and a Ph.D. in Soil Ecology and Ecosystem Science from Colorado State University (Ft. Collins, CO). Cindy moved to Ames in 1991 to work as a Research Soil Scientist for the USDA-ARS at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory (present day NLAE). Cindy's dedication to environmentalism inspired her ground-breaking research, which focused on how land use and agricultural management practices impact soil health and water quality and the benefits of organic farming. She believed in teamwork and collaborated widely with agricultural scientists across the country and beyond as an investigator, consultant, advisor, and reviewer. She was a founding member and leader of the Sustainable Agriculture Community in the American Society of Agronomy. Cindy was held in high regard as a teacher and a mentor by numerous undergraduate and graduate students. She was an excellent speaker and writer, a challenging colleague and dedicated supervisor. She retired in 2019 from the USDA-ARS after 27 years of distinguished service during which she also served as an affiliate Associate Professor of Soil Science in the Department of Agronomy at Iowa State University.

In her personal life, Cindy strove to be genuine, honest, loving and kind. Cindy was devoted to AA recovery and the friends she had in the program. She had a rich spiritual life and loved nature, both plants and animals. She was a loyal, loving friend and cared deeply for the people in her life. We will miss her smile, her authenticity, and her bright spirit.

Due to COVID, a Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Gifts may be directed to the family for later designation or given in Cindy's memory to a favorite environmental cause. Condolences may be expressed online at

Ames Monument & Cremation Center has been entrusted with the care of Cindy and her family.


Pauline Drobney on Nov 30, 2020

I am sorry to hear of Cindy's passing. Though I haven't seen her in years, the work we shared investigating carbon sequestration at Neal Smith NWR was a joy. I loved Cindy's spirit.

Tom Kaspar on Oct 24, 2020

Cindy was joy to work with and a good colleague. I enjoyed my talks with her over the years and we had fun when we traveled together for work. She will be missed and I am saddened by her long hard battle with lung cancer. Tom Kaspar

Doug Karlen on Oct 15, 2020

A Special Ode for Cindy
Throughout this unusual pandemic year,
I’ve written odes to bring others cheer!
Messages to family, friends, and even for soil health,
You recognized that soil carbon provides real wealth.
This ode, written in memory of you,
Was a blessing, I felt compelled to do.
The carbon science provided by your relentless toil,
Forever will be highlighted in books on healthy soil.
We shared many challenges at the ARS lab,
About them with you, it was fun to gab.
With courage and faith, in God above,
You fought cancer with steadfast love.
Love and support from your partner Janet,
Together you two brought great joy to the planet.
My friend, there is nothing more to say,
Please Rest in Peace, each and every day.

Michel Cavigelli on Oct 6, 2020

Cindy was recognized as a pioneer in soil carbon and organic farming research. And, she was instrumental in bringing a strong scientific approach to research in organic farming and creating the space within the American Society of Agronomy to share that research. For this, I will always be indebted to her. While I did not work directly with her, her research had a strong impact on mine (and that of many others). She was an inspiration and had a great sense of humor. May her memory be a blessing.

Jared Flater on Oct 5, 2020

I had the great honor and privilege to work under Cindy for more than five years, she inspired me to care about the soil and the environment in new ways. Without her, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to go to graduate school and pursue further education in sustainable agriculture. Cindy mentored me through some tough personal times, and her genuine insight into life helped me immensely. I will miss her dearly.

Jared and Kelly Flater

MLH on Sep 29, 2020

Although I did not work directly with Cindy, I respected her work and appreciated her encouragement as a graduate student. . Zichronah livachra — May her memory be blessing.

Marshall McDaniel on Sep 28, 2020

I very saddened by Cindy's death. Although, I'm happy to have shared several impactful moments with her the few years I've lived in Ames. She had a great sense of humor and sharp wit -- and humble. I use to tell her that I was standing on her shoulders due to her ground-breaking work, and she would make a self-deprecating comment and laugh it off. Standing on shoulder's of giants just does not describe her impact on young soil scientists. She has inspired me in fields of soil health and soil ecology long before I had even met her. Her legacy on improving soil health will continue well into the future.

Mahdi Al-Kaisi on Sep 26, 2020

I am so grateful to have known and collaborated with Cindy during the past 20 years. She was generous with her time to lend a helping hand. She made great contributions to the scientific community, and soil science in particular. I will miss her friendship and kindness. She has left us too soon. Rest in peace Cindy, and God bless your soul.

Toby Ewing on Sep 25, 2020

Cindy had a warmth and courage that set an example for her friends and colleagues. Both her professional work, and her friendship, are treasures that I’m grateful for. Cindy, I’m sorry you left us too soon.

Dan Jaynes on Sep 24, 2020

I had the privilege of knowing Cindy for the past 30 years. She was a world class soil scientist and taught me most of what I know about soil organic carbon and organic farming. She will be missed. Dan and Margaret Jaynes.

Kathleen Delate on Sep 24, 2020

May your light guide us in these troubling times, Cindy! We will miss you more than words can express. Cindy was an inspiration in her steadfast research towards improving agriculture’s footprint through renewable practices. We worked together in bringing the profession forward through the Committee on Organic and Sustainable Agriculture and the Organic Management Systems community, along with numerous organic research projects across the U.S. Through it all, Cindy led with intelligence, empathy and kindness. Her generosity of spirit and superb sense of humor overcame the skepticism and prejudice we faced. God bless Janet and all Cindy’s family as we grieve this tremendous loss of a fearless advocate. Rest In Peace, Cindy. Love-Kathleen Delate and Bob Turnbull

Ana Wingeyer on Sep 24, 2020

CandleCindy has been a great teacher. I appreciate to have had the opportunity to discuss ideas with her. My condolences to family and friends. Ana Wingeyer, from Argentina

Cheryl Mercer on Sep 23, 2020

Cindy was my friend for over 40 years, way back to the Colorado days. There has never been a person with a bigger heart.

Becky Roland on Sep 22, 2020

CandleI worked with Cindy for several years. I am very sorry to hear this news. My condolences to her family and friends. Rest In Peace, Cindy.



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