In the modern era, scientists are often encouraged, if not required, to keep an objective view. Whether in writing, presentations, or discussion, scientists often remove opinions and anecdotal insights in favor of “professionalism.” While this approach can provide good data and remove bias, it also removes some humanity from the research. It is only occasionally that the public gets to know the scientists of our time, and what makes them “tick”.
Recently, Dr. Osvaldo Sala was featured on the “In Their Own Words” Podcast and provides some rare insight into his personal philosophies and what led him into his impressive career.
Dr. Sala pioneered the use of “Rainout” shelters, a device that allows for the modification of precipitation, in drylands. He saw the value in long-term experiments and pushed for the creation of the LTER Network in its formative years. Also, Osvaldo is responsible for a drought experiment that has continued at the Jornada LTER for more than 15 years. Furthermore, he was the first Hispanic president of the Ecological Society of America and helped launch the Environmental Change Initiative at Brown University. These are only a handful of his achievements.
However, Osvaldo notes that his path to success was never clear. His journey started in Argentina, making a living as an agricultural consultant. Over the years, Osvaldo jumped between North and South America amid political unrest and jobs that didn’t seem quite related to his goals. Often the end destination was not visible. He notes, “most of us mortals, we find our paths piece by piece.”
If you want to listen to the podcast, please click here: BioScience Talks | In Their Own Words: Osvaldo Sala (aibs.org)