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Robert L. Beschta, PhD
Watershed Conservationist and Hydrologist

We asked each of our scientists to give us their thoughts on their professions and what they think the future holds for humanity.

What would you recommend for students wanting to pursue a similar career?
My career has focused on natural resources hydrology. While there is a definite need for students in natural resources to become proficient in a given field of expertise, I would recommend that such students consider interdisciplinary majors that provide a broad base of knowledge. Natural resource issues typically involve multiple factors.

What do you like best about your profession?
The capability to do research and teach on issues that may ultimately influence how natural resources on public and private lands are managed. Since land managers of today increasingly depend upon research results to help direct management decisions, being able to provide such information represents an important obligation and incentive for those of us involved in teaching, research and continuing education.

What makes you most fearful for the future?
Human population numbers. While my colleagues in water resources will often acknowledge privately that increasing human populations and the resources they demand have the potential to seriously impact environmental conditions and ultimately the quality of life on this planet, public discussions of this human dimension does not often occur. Until we can have the necessary public dialog regarding the social, economic and environmental issues associated with increasing human populations and resource consumption, as a society we may be unable to make the appropriate decisions that will insure the viability of a wide range of species as well as a quality environment for future generations of humans.

What makes you most hopeful for the future?
Today's students are increasingly aware of the effects of human impacts to a wide range of resources such as flora and fauna, water and air quality, as well as potential effects of human activities upon long-term weather patterns. They increasingly understand that decisions by society can have a major effect on the quality of their lives. Many want to work towards a better world.

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