Teaching Students About Dale Robertson


Introducing students to influential figures in a particular field deepens their understanding and enhances learning. Therefore, incorporating a lesson on Dale Robertson into environmental science or hydrology curricula is an ideal way to showcase his significant contributions to the study of water resources and environmental management.

Early Life and Education

Dale Robertson was born on August 14, 1946, in Pasadena, California. He attended California State Polytechnic University, where he graduated with a B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1969. Furthermore, he earned an M.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1971, and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1976.

Career and Contributions

Throughout his career, Dale Robertson has been at the forefront of environmental hydrology – tackling fundamental questions regarding the earth’s water resources and influencing countless researchers worldwide. He began his career at the United States Geological Survey (USGS), where he played an instrumental role in conducting water-quality assessments for several major river basins across the country. His work helped develop empirical models to better understand how land use influences water quality.

Robertson’s research on nutrient cycling and eutrophication has provided key insights into how aquatic ecosystems function. Among his notable achievements is pioneering the development of techniques for applying paleolimnological data (historical data from sediment records) to reconstruct lake-water quality conditions. This work provided valuable information regarding human impacts on lake ecosystems over time.

In addition to his research accomplishments among environmental hydrologists, Dale Robertson has dedicated much of his career to mentoring students and early-career researchers. As a respected professor at numerous institutions such as Duke University and University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as an honored guest lecturer and course developer around the globe, he’s shared his passion for hydrology and environmental management with countless individuals.

How to Teach Students about Dale Robertson

1. Contextualize his work: Begin by providing an overview of environmental hydrology and outlining pressing worldwide water resource issues.

2. Engage students in primary literature: Assign research articles authored by Robertson and discuss his findings in class. Encourage students to dissect the methodology, results, and implications, drawing connections between his work and larger environmental concepts.

3. Organize case study discussions: Using Robertson’s work as a basis, develop case studies of specific river basins or lakes affected by land-use change, nutrient cycling, or eutrophication. Have students analyze the consequences these phenomena had on the environment and discuss potential mitigation strategies.

4. Comparative analysis: Encourage students to find more recent studies addressing similar questions as Robertson’s research but utilizing newer technology or methods. Discuss how scientific advancements have changed our understanding of hydrological systems.

5. Invite guest speakers: If possible, arrange for hydrologists, environmental scientists or managers familiar with Dale Robertson’s work to speak with your class through guest lectures or virtual presentations.


Teaching students about Dale Robertson not only provides context for understanding key concepts in environmental hydrology but also serves as inspiration for future innovation in sustainable water resource management. By examining his pioneering work, students can appreciate the value of rigorous research and the essential role science plays in shaping global efforts to manage and preserve our planet’s precious water resources.

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