Field stations are living laboratories, where we can work to decipher the processes that shape the natural world. This can't be done just by theory. Theory has to be informed by observation and tested by experiment, and field stations are where those observations can be made and experiments can be done.
Field stations are living libraries, where we can read the book of life in the language in which it was written: the language of organisms living and interacting on a landscape. This goes well beyond their DNA in a test tube: the whole story includes how their genetic code -- the book of life -- was written by ecological and evolutionary processes, shaped by the interaction among real organisms, in real time, in the real world, on real landscapes. Field stations are where we can observe those processes in action.
And lastly, field stations are living legacies: places where each generation acts as trustees of a landscape and its natural systems, sustaining them for the generations yet to come. We, and those who come after us, will be infinitely poorer if we break that trust.
James Kirchner, Ph.D. (Berkeley, 1990)
Goldman Distinguished Professor for the Physical Sciences, Berkeley (2003-2008)
Director, Central Sierra Field Research Stations, Berkeley (1997-2014)
Director emeritus, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL
Professor of the Physics of Environmental Systems, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich