2013-14 Annual Report
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About Us


The Institute of the Environment (IE) fosters and facilitates cross-campus, community, state, national, and worldwide collaborations that help explain and resolve environmental challenges and seize solution-driven opportunities created by such challenges. IE also provides a portal to the internationally recognized expertise of more than 300 affiliated faculty and research staff across campus and to programs, events, and projects that transform environmental research into useful knowledge for decision makers, consumers, and other stakeholders.


At the Institute of the Environment (IE) at the University of Arizona, we provide the arena on campus for forming solutions to environmental challenges facing the Southwest and the planet. Taking advantage of the University’s geography and unparalleled breadth of environmental programs, IE helps cultivate campus as a learning laboratory and incubator for innovative thought and ensures the environment for discovery is rich, fruitful, and cohesive. Decision makers, consumers, and the business community use results of research generated by more than 300 world-renowned faculty members affiliated with IE and their graduate students to secure sustainable food and water systems, adapt to abrupt changes in climate and weather, and create economic opportunities. IE harnesses cutting-edge research by experts from dozens of disciplines across campus to improve the quality of lives for people in Arizona, the nation, and around the world now and for generations to come.


Through its long-standing excellence in environmental sciences and its unique geography, the University of Arizona is uniquely situated to be the premiere learning laboratory for understanding environmental impacts in a desert environment. The UA’s ability to adapt its expertise to arid environments from Australia to Africa to the Americas offers a wide range of opportunities to collaborate and initiate solutions to complex environmental challenges. With world-renowned faculty spanning the broadest array of environmental disciplines—from engineering to art, agriculture to atmospheric science, geography to consumer behavior—the UA is an incubator for developing innovative environmental solutions that serve as economic drivers and contribute to a sustainable future. Together with their graduate students and research staff, UA faculty produce sound science to inform public policy and provide opportunities for public/private partnerships. They also participate in outreach activities, communicating useful information that presents opportunities for people to make decisions that ensure the health and safety of our planet, its wildlife, and its peoples.

It is against that backdrop that the UA broadened the mission of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth (ISPE) in 2008, renaming it the Institute of the Environment (IE) to recognize environment as one of the UA’s flagship themes. The Institute of the Environment seeks and promotes collaborations across the UA among the environmental sciences, the arts, economics, consumer behavior, political science, law and communications--virtually every aspect of the University. Further, IE is continually forging new links to partners in other universities, the private sector, government agencies, and the public to help people understand how their environment varies and how to use that knowledge to plan for the future.

Sponsored funding of IE-related activities has reached nearly $20 million per year, with strong support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), and a host of smaller federal, state, and corporate sources. The number of available awards, grants, and fellowships to faculty and graduate students for scholarly work is steadily increasing, along with the average amount of each award.

Faculty affiliated with the IE are involved in a wide range of successful research projects, including some of the largest and most distinguished interdisciplinary projects in the country, such as Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), the largest and best known of NOAA's Regional Integrated Science and Assessment projects; as well as Biosphere 2 and the AzRISE solar initiative.

This wealth of disciplinary and interdisciplinary faculty expertise and collaboration, flourishing under the umbrella of the Institute of the Environment, sets the University of Arizona as the gold standard for the study of regional to global environmental variability and change and its impact on society; ecosystems and human well-being; managing water in the earth system; securing our future food supply; and transforming our energy future through innovation, education, and collaboration.