Sharon K. Collinge, a leader in global sustainability and an expert on landscape change and ecological processes, is joining the University of Arizona as director of the Arizona Institute for Resilient Environments and Societies, or AIRES, beginning August 1.
Jim Buizer, founding director of AIRES, will assist with the transition and continue in his position as professor of climate adaptation and international development in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
“We are thrilled to have Dr. Collinge join the University of Arizona. As a forward-thinking leader in environmental and ecological science, Dr. Collinge is well positioned to help AIRES and the university tackle global challenges related to resilience and sustainability,” said Elizabeth "Betsy" Cantwell, senior vice president for research and innovation. “I would also like to thank Jim Buizer for his critical role in laying the groundwork for AIRES to this point.”
AIRES is housed within the Office for Research, Innovation and Impact.
Collinge’s goals for AIRES are to enhance the university’s local and global impact by expanding partnerships with sustainability-aligned research institutions, guide interdisciplinary collaboration between sustainability initiatives across the UArizona campus, and nurture and inspire the diverse team of AIRES researchers, outreach professionals, and students working to develop solutions for the environment and society.
Her new role will include developing and implementing a strategy for achieving these goals, expanding and diversifying financial resources, and growing the AIRES brand. In addition, she will oversee more than a dozen centers, institutes, and programs within AIRES and lead the TRIF Water, Environmental, and Energy Solutions (WEES) initiative and the university’s AIRES strategic initiative.
“I deeply appreciate the bold vision of those involved in the development of AIRES to promote connections and knowledge creation that support resilient environments and societies,” Collinge said. “My goal is to continue to build on and expand the impact of innovative research, education and community engagement activities that are the core of AIRES programs and to amplify the reach of the U of A.”
Collinge joins the UArizona from the University of Colorado – Boulder, where she has spent 24 years as professor in the Environmental Studies Program and executive director of the Earth Leadership Program, developing global capacity in sustainability leadership.
She also served as chief scientist and observatory director of the National Ecological Observatory Network, a continental-scale observation facility designed to collect long-term open-access ecological data to better understand how U.S. ecosystems are changing. Additionally, she led the development of a plan for a CU–Boulder campus-wide structure for sustainability, and directed a large, interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate program in environmental studies. She is president-elect of the Ecological Society of America.
Collinge earned a PhD in Landscape Ecology from Harvard University; a Master of Science in Biology from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Kansas State University. She has many publications and has been the recipient and administrator of numerous research grants from agencies including the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and more.
“I am so inspired by the strengths and expertise across the U of A campus related to resilient environments and societies and am really looking forward to fostering collaborations within and beyond the university to create thriving and equitable futures for communities in Arizona and in regions around the world,” Collinge said.