Desertification is happening on a global level. Currently, more than 40% of our global land areas are arid or semi-arid. At Arizona, we have everything that is “hot” when it comes to environmental research in arid settings — progressive ground water regulations, we’re one of the most urbanized states in the US, and when it comes to agriculture, we know how to produce more food efficiently.

"Saguaro cactus helps shade the plant in the harsh sun. The thermodynamics of these systems can be translated into buildings." - Aletheia Ida



Growing up in Tucson, I was always interested in how the city is connected to the environment. Tucson has a long history of inhabitation and is a culturally diverse place, which you can see reflected in the historic neighborhoods like the barrios. And at Arizona, our expertise in arid environments like the Sonoran Desert stands out — we are innovators in this area because we’ve always had to do more with less. It's exciting to bring experts in planning, landscape architecture and climatology together to help create more sustainable and resilient cities. 

—Ladd Keith, PhD, Planning Lecturer and Chair, Sustainable Built Environments, College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture

mike crimmins 2


I am a weather nerd at heart. Compared to Michigan, Arizona is less green. But I don’t think I could live somewhere that doesn’t have two mountain ranges in my backyard. I also bike an extra seven miles to work just because the river trail is so fun. As an extension specialist, I help farmers and ranchers understand climate data and make better decisions about their production. When it comes to the Monsoon, everyone wants to know when’s it going to show up — not everyone in the country leans into weather like we do.

— Michael Crimmins, Professor & Extension Specialist, Department of Soil, Water & Environmental Science, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences 

jessica tierney


I came here because of the great geosciences department. I study climate change over geologic times so we can anticipate future changes. There is no perfect analog for where we’re headed. At Arizona, we use marine sediment records from California to tell us about our monsoon millions of years ago. In the Southwest, the higher temperatures and evaporation rates lead us to expect a drier future. This is in the cards for the Mediterranean, South Africa and Australia. The deep tropics and Alaska are expected to get wetter.

— Jessica Tierney, Associate Professor, Department of Geosciences

"I don't think I could live somewhere that doesn't have two mountain ranges in my backyard." — Michael Crimmins