Donald Dickmann

Professor Emeritus, Department of Forestry, Michigan State University.

B.S. (Forest Management), University of Washington; Ph.D. (Plant Physiology), University of Wisconsin.


What attracted you to your chosen field?

I have always been interested in the outdoors, and trees and forests held a particular fascination for me. Once I started my forestry education, there was no doubt that I had made the right choice.

What do you like best about the field?

Forests and the products from them always have been critical to the welfare of society. What kind of outdoor experiences could we have if there were no forests? How could we live without wood and all the products we get from it? Its been gratifying to be part of a profession whose responsibility is sustaining, over the long run, the forest resources that we all need.

What are some personal challenges you have faced in your field?

Forestry, like any other profession, advances by applying the latest information from research programs and utilizing the most advanced technologies. It has been a real challenge to keep up with all that. As a teacher, I also felt a keen responsibility to pass on the latest knowledge and techniques to my students.

What does the future hold for your chosen field?

Forests will be as important in the future as they are today. But the increasing world population will put larger and larger demands on forest resources. It will be a real challenge to meet these needs, while sustaining forests. The wild card is global climate change, which already has dramatically impacted forests in northern latitudes. Foresters will have to deal with the many effects that the warming climate will have on forests, some positive and some negative, but it will be a challenge.

What things can students do to prepare for a career in this field?

A solid background in math and biological science is crucial. But the social sciences, economics and sociology, are important, too, because managing forests involves managing both money and people. Communication skills are critical - if you cant write or speak well, you will not be successful.