After nearly 23 years of teaching, conducting research and providing outreach for the University of Wyoming, Dr. Vance retired August 2012. He served as president of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation and the Western Society of Soil Science, and was chair of Soil Science Society of America's S-11 division on soil and environmental quality, and national and regional committees (WCC-21 - revegetation and stabilization of deteriorated and altered lands committee and W-170 - chemistry and bioavailability of waste constituents in soils committee). He was head of the soil science section and the soil science graduate degree coordinator. Locally he assisted with the design and implementation of the phytoremediation and greenbelt project associated with the Laramie U.P. Railroad Tie Plant. As the assistant AES director and associate director for research for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Dr. Vance enhanced research funding for the college and across the UW campus. He has been an associate editor for the Journal of Environmental Quality, Clays and Clay Minerals, and Arid Land Research and Management Journal.
The soil and environmental science program developed by Dr. Vance evolved through the invaluable assistance of many graduate students, post-doctoral scientists, and colleagues at UW and elsewhere. Research activities have included carbon sequestration, ground and surface water contamination, selenium chemistry in agricultural, mine land and military ecosystems, reclamation and revegetation of disturbed lands, acid deposition impacts, CBM water salinity/sodicity, pesticides and nutrient mobility and fate, forest nutrient cycling processes, sorption of hazardous anions and organics, bioavailability of waste constituents, and use of geographic information systems (GIS) and land evaluation and site assessment (LESA). Much of this research has dealt with reclamation and revegetation of lands disturbed by ecosystem disturbances such as coal, coalbed methane, uranium, phosphorus and gravel mined lands, military bases, and ground and surface water contamination. Dr. Vance's research group has authored more than 100 refereed publications, presented over 300 talks and posters, and has been involved in 65 grants worth $40 million of which $3.5 million went to Dr. Vance's research program.
Dr. Vance advised numerous undergraduate students and trained 11 post-doctoral scientists, 30 graduate students (13 Ph.D. and 17 M.S.), and served on approximately 60 other graduate student committees. His students have received ASMR outstanding graduate awards, outstanding M.S. and Ph.D. graduate awards in the College of Agriculture, and UW outstanding dissertation awards in biological sciences and physical, earth and computational sciences. Graduate students and post-doctorate scientists have been employed in academia, national, regional and local regulatory agencies, consulting firms, and industry. Their current position titles include university professors, directors of research and development, laboratory directors, owner and employees in consulting firms, lecturer/research associates, instruction coordinators, post-doctoral scientists, Ph.D. candidates, soil scientists, senior analysts, QA/QC specialists, range scientists, GIS specialists, environmental specialists, water quality specialists, research scientists, and public service representatives.