UArizona Hires Two Extension Specialists

The University of Arizona hires two Cooperative Extension specialists, Dr. Debankur Sanyal (Soil Health) and Dr. José Luis Diaz (Weed Science). Both started serving the state based at the Maricopa Agricultural Center (MAC). Here’re short biographies of our new CE specialists:

Dr. Debankur Sanyal

Dr. Debankur Sanyal is a soil biogeochemist by profession and going to serve as an Assistant Specialist in Soil Health in the Environmental Science Department at University of Arizona, starting January 2022. He has a Ph.D. degree in Soil Science from North Dakota State University in 2018 and worked as a postdoctoral research associate at South Dakota State University since then.

As a researcher, he actively seeking answers to the fundamental questions about carbon nutrient cycling in the agroecosystems at multiple scales as impacted by plant-soil-microbe-climate interactions, using approaches that range from laboratory incubations to greenhouse trials to extensive field trials. Through his research program, he aims to create a climate-resilient, sustainable, and healthy agro-environment for human welfare. One of his passions is to develop cost-effective, applied, stakeholder-oriented methodologies to quantify the influence of various soil management and conservation techniques on soil biogeochemical properties and crop production.

Debankur has worked extensively with diverse crop production systems using soil conservation techniques such as minimum tillage, cover crops, livestock integration, diversified crop rotation, and manure application. Along with applied and basic research, his extension and outreach activities include participating in ‘Soil Health School’ and other workshops, demonstrating tools and techniques, and providing essential training to use them. Dr. Sanyal’s goal is to actively work with the stakeholders to design and carry out applied, stakeholder-oriented research, based on their needs and interests.


Email address:

Phone: (520) 621-1646

Please see his full CV here:

Dr. José Luiz Dias

Dr. José Luiz Dias joins the Plant Science Department at the University of Arizona in January 2022 as an Assistant Professor and Extension Weed Scientist. The challenges of economic, effective, and sustainable weed management are greater than ever with the fast-growing world’s population, the burdens of climate change, loss of water resources, labor shortages, greater pesticide use restrictions and herbicide resistance. Thus, in his new role with UArizona, José hopes to conduct an effective statewide extension program, as well as a meaningful research program based on grower’s needs, for weed biology, ecology, integrated weed management and innovative technology.

Before joined UArizona, José worked for one year at the University of California Cooperative and Extension (UCCE), as a Field Crops Agronomy and Weed Management Farm Advisor in the Northern San Joaquin Valley where he developed a multi-county extension and applied research program, targeted at solving growers’ problems and optimizing crop yield and sustainability for growers and allied industry. Prior to joining UCCE, José was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked on identifying management practices and environmental factors to ensure successful establishment of alfalfa interseeded into corn silage, sustainable management of waterhemp in established alfalfa for dairy systems, and weed control, clover selectivity and resulting yield of grassclover mixed swards.

José earned a Doctoral Degree in Agronomy with a focus on Weed Science from the University of Florida, a Master’s Degree in Crop Protection and Bachelor’s in Agronomy from São Paulo State University in Brazil. His doctoral research centered on developing and implementing integrated management practices to reduce giant smutgrass populations in bahiagrass pastures. For his master’s degree, he researched herbicide selectivity in pre-budded sugarcane seedlings.


Email address:

Phone: (520) 621-1977

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