Tibor Toth (Hungary)
Age: 52 years
Position: Scientific advisor
Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural
Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Mailing address P. O. Box 35. Hungary 1525
Street address Budapest II. Herman O. ut 15.
1. When did you decide to study soil science?
As a graduate of chemistry I started to work in the Soil Chemical Laboratory of the Research Institute of Debrecen Agricultural University in Karcag. Faced with the strange methods and parameters used there, I was curious to understand more than what was taught by the professors of colloid chemistry at the university. The self-study was followed by a regular education, the only way of formal soil science curriculum in Hungary. We still have that corresponding soil science course and there are already four hundred soil science M Sc degree holders in the country.
2. Who has been your most influential teacher?
There were several excellent scientists who helped me some way during my 27 years that I spent in soil science. The first time when I collaborated with a world-class scientist, Theo Bruggenwert, I immediately realized the strength of the motivation provided by curious students. There is still a list of unsolved problems discussed with Theo and his students that I remember after twenty-two years.
3. What do you find most exciting about soil science?
There are two things that I find very exciting. Soil science is related to so many issues, that it is difficult to imagine anything independent from soils. For example in our institute we collaborate not only with agronomists, botanists, geologists, but also with physicians, ethnologists, economists some times. Soils are variable in space and time. There are very interesting cause and effect relations behind the variation. Furthermore the variation is reflected by vegetation, and this way creates the fundamentals of terrestrial biodiversity.
4. How would you stimulate teenagers and young graduates to study soil science?
As researcher I do not have frequent contact with young graduates. For stimulating these youngsters participation in a motivating project with unconventional techniques and interdisciplinary collaboration may be the best. When soil science is shown from multiple angles it is a very attractive discipline.
5. How do you see the future of soil science?
Soil science has a very great future. It has a very strong century behind and has convinced the society that it is useful and contributes to the well being of the citizens. Soil science is open, receives students from large number of disciplines and provides results to many scientists. Increasing number of decisions requires soil research.