snowcapped mountain

Get to know Umesh Haritashya

Umesh HaritashyaThere is so much more to Geology than is on the surface, it is what lays beneath that reveals the truth. The same can be said for Dr. Umesh Haritashya. Umesh is currently an assistant professor of geology here at the University of Dayton. He was born in Northern India and finished most of his studies there, including a Ph.D. from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Glacial-hydrology. Being a professor of geology Umesh tells me that, "before college, geology was never what I expected to do with my life," as is the case with many college students who discover their passion through a single introductory class.

Umesh happened upon his passion in much the same way, but has thrived in a field that lets him explore issues of international interest, such as the effects of climate change on the glaciers and snow packs. By studying glaciers in the field and using remote sensing satellite images, Umesh and his team are able to assess the history of glacier fluctuations across the mountain ranges and their impact on fresh water resources, among many other things. Through their work in the field they are able to see trends in glacier retreat and high altitude lake formation leading to flooding and other types of natural hazards. This is exactly what they are trying to model in their current research, which is primarily funded by NASA. 

The work of glaciology has its risks and struggles but to Umesh, "the data is worth all the risk." He may travel, hiking mountainous terrain and prepare for three weeks to gain three days’ worth of data.  In his line of work "there are two sides to the coin, either the high rate of glacier melting can result in flooding and sea level rise, or the lack of melting can lead to dwindling supply of water in the summer. So our work is very important to those who depend on the glacier for water." His work takes him across the world and he encourages as many students as possible to get out into the field. Several students have worked with Umesh in his research both in the office and in the field, in Himalaya and Alaska. It is a great opportunity for students to become exposed to international affairs in their field of work. Umesh is an extremely hard worker who always has work on the brain. It is one of his great passions that occupy his thoughts constantly.

Away from school Umesh loves to spend time with his wife Namrata and their 6 year old daughter Vanshika. When he does take the time to relax, Umesh loves to play tennis. One of his favorite hobbies is watching sports. It doesn’t matter what kind of sport is on, Umesh loves to watch it. To him sports hold a novelty and speed that other forms of entertainment just lack. They are fast paced and there is never a repeat. Umesh favors cricket and tennis, but truly any sport will do. Another of his favorite past times is simply to be outside. He is a fan of all seasons. Whether the weather is hot or cold doesn’t bother Umesh. Being born in a warm climate and studying glaciers has made Umesh well-adjusted to the two extremes.

He has also traveled throughout the world, hot and cold alike. He has been throughout Asia, South America, and New Zealand, but he claims he is nowhere near done traveling. Ideally, he would like to be able to travel to every mountain range in the world, including the Swiss Alps and Mount Kilimanjaro. In a perfect world Umesh would also get the chance to see every sport played live in every famous stadium.

Umesh is an honest, hard worker who believes in being a citizen of the world. "It is only through exploring global scientific problems together through a multi-disciplinary approach that we will find the big solutions," Umesh tells me of working around the world. "This world is changing rapidly and it is only through united progress that problems will be solved. I advise any young professional to develop critical thinking skills, global awareness, environmental consciousness, and to be open minded in their field, no matter what it is, because by forming a broad world view you will be able to make connections everywhere and affect true change."