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Freshwater Ecosystems: Revitalizing Educational Programs in Limnology
the federal government can develop a job classification for limnologists. Finally, limnologists themselves can work to increase public awareness of their field.
Certification of Professional Limnologists
Universities and some research institutions have long evaluated the productivity of scientists by their track records—typically in terms of number and quality of peer-reviewed publications and/or number of graduated Ph.D. students. A pragmatic evaluation or certification system for aquatic ecosystem scientists and water resource professionals might be valuable for a variety of positions in the public and private sectors, especially in consulting firms, state and federal resource and regulatory agencies, and private industry. Examples of specific positions for which certification might be useful include state water quality managers, federal agency water quality regulators, aquatic science and engineering consultants, hydroelectric facility environmental supervisors, and paper mill aquatic environmental supervisors.
There are at least three compelling but simple reasons for certification of limnologists in the private and public sectors. First, managers of aquatic ecosystems need a standard and basic set of limnological skills to make good decisions involving aquatic resources. Second, employers of aquatic resource scientists and evaluators of programs or environmental impact studies would benefit from knowing that the employee, consultant, or study author is certified as possessing certain key knowledge. In addition, having certified limnologists in some of these jobs would facilitate communication and negotiations regarding aquatic resources because a common language would be present.
Several models of certification of aquatic scientists exist. These could be adapted or combined into a broad, umbrella aquatic science certification program having several subspecialties (one of which would be limnology). Existing certification programs include the following:
The American Institute of Hydrology certifies applicants in hydrology. The evaluation process involves review of the applicant's education and professional experience, along with a written examination. Educational requirements include a B.S. in hydrology or hydrogeology or a major in physical or natural sciences or engineering with at least 25 semester credits in hydrology or hydrogeology. Applicants must have at least eight years of experience after the B.S. degree, six years after an M.S., or four years after a Ph.D. Five letters of reference are required from individuals who know the applicant's qualifications, integrity, and professional conduct. Some of the requirements may be waived for applicants whose reputation or standing in the professional community clearly