Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability

The interdisciplinary Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability Doctoral program will prepare you to be part of a growing industry of leaders, scientists, and engineers addressing issues of climate change, water scarcity, natural resource demand, and environmental sustainability in the Southwest, United States, and the global community.

You have a choice of three emphases:

  • Earth and Planetary Systems
  • Climate and Environmental Change
  • Engineering Sustainable Systems



Admissions requirements for this graduate program:

  • Preference is given to students with a graduate degree from an accredited college or university of recognized standing in geology, earth sciences, environmental sciences, environmental policy & sustainability, engineering, ecology, forestry, planetary sciences or a closely related field.
  • Minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is a 4.0 = A)
  • GRE General Test

Application deadline: January 15

Apply now 


Our program will reach across the applied and basic sciences and environmental policy and engineering solutions by focusing on three emphases, outlined below.

Earth and Planetary Systems

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    This emphasis will prepare you to pursue research and educational opportunities that:

    1) Advance knowledge in the critical areas for society of energy, natural resources and water, and natural hazards,
    2) continue the cutting edge research currently being done on the Earth and Planets, and
    3) apply this knowledge in areas that bridge between the geosciences and physics, chemistry, engineering, and biology.

    The focus area in Earth and Planetary Systems will train and educate future leaders in areas of industry with growing demands (e.g., natural resources and energy), and in government agencies that require PhD-level researchers to inform policy decisions on some of the largest problems facing society.

    Climate and Environmental Change

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    The Climate and Environmental Change emphasis is designed to develop research and educational skills that:

    1) advance new understandings of the natural climate variability,
    2) improve projections of climate change and its impacts on ecosystems and their hydrological and geological underpinnings (i.e. the landscape), and
    3) apply this knowledge to informing policy decisions about how best to manage natural resources under changing climate and related environmental stresses.

    It combines the long-term perspective from geological archives with process-oriented investigations of today, with the goal of integrating a field-based understanding of natural systems into predictive models to support sustainable resource management in the face of climate change.

    Engineering Sustainable Systems

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    The goals of this emphasis are to develop research and educational skills that:

    1) advance engineering analysis and applications relevant to sustainable development,
    2) improve the efficiency and effectiveness of engineering processes, products, and education, and
    3) understand and apply their knowledge in the sustainability contexts of economic viability, environmental compatibility and sustainability, societal impacts and policy development and implications.

    The Engineering Sustainable Systems emphasis is designed for the engineer interested in an understanding of the economic, societal and environmental implications of engineering systems. You will have a strong background in engineering enhanced by understanding future sustainability of our environment, and will be prepared for careers in academia, industry, and governmental organizations.

    Course requirements

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    Required for all emphases:

    • ENV 555: Environmental Science/Policy Interface
    • EES 605: Regional Topics in Earth and Environmental Science and Policy
    • EES 606: Research Methods in Earth and Environmental Science        
    • 2 classes selected by student and committee from:
      • Environmental law & policy
      • Public outreach & communications
      • Management & Business
      • Teaching practicum courses
      • Engineering
    • 2 seminar courses (698) selected by student and committee
    • 15 units of EES 799 for the research, writing, and oral defense of an approved dissertation
    • Comprehensive Exam
    Earth & Planetary Systems emphasis

    (30 units chosen from the following):

    • GLG 670 Advanced Hydrogeology
    • GLG 516 Petrologic Phase Equilibria
    • GLG 520 Volcanology
    • GLG 542 Advanced Structural Geology
    • GLG 560 Introduction to Applied Geophysics
    • GLG 561 Regional Tectonics
    • GLG 565 Introduction to Solid Earth Geophysics
    • GLG 570 Geochemistry
    • GLG 575 Geochemistry of Natural Waters
    • GLG 612 Igneous Petrology
    • GLG 615 Metamorphic Petrology
    • GLG 617 Isotope Geology
    • GLG 625 Siliciclastic & Carbonate Petrology
    • GLG 627 Depositional Systems
    • GLG 629 Evolution of Sedimentary Basins
    • PHY 590 Physics of the Solar System
    Climate and Environmental Change emphasis

    (30 additional units chosen from the following classes excluding ENV 595 and ENV 540):

    • ENV 595 Global environmental and climate change
    • ENV 540 Conservation Biology
    • ENV 530 Arid land geomorphology
    • ENV 544 Landscape ecology
    • ENV 550 Historical ecology: Reconstructing past ecosystems
    • ENV 555 Environmental science-policy interface
    • ENV 580 Atmospheric change
    • ENV 591 Science and management of greenhouse gases
    • ENV/GLG 596 Quaternary climate change
    • GLG 537 Quaternary geology
    • GLG 670 Advanced hydrogeology
    • BIO 426 Plants and climate
    • BIO 479 Ecosystems and climate change
    • FOR 500 Ecosystem science and management principles
    Engineering Sustainable Systems

    (30 units chosen from the following):

    • CENE 502 Principles of Environmental Transport Processes
    • CENE 540 Environmental Protection:  Today and Tomorrow
    • CENE 543 Urban Transportation Planning
    • CENE 550 Geotechnical Evaluation and Design
    • CENE 551 Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering
    • CENE 560 Classical Open Channel Flow
    • CENE 562 Water Quality Monitoring
    • ME 510 Finite Element Analysis
    • ME 520 Applied Fluid Dynamics
    • ME 525 Applied Computational Fluid Dynamics
    • ME 530 Applied Thermal Analysis
    • ME 535 Wind Energy Engineering
    • ME 540 Combustion Energy Systems and Emissions
    • ME 555 Manufacturing Systems & Management
    • ME 560 Applied Solid Mechanics
    • ME 570 Fracture Mechanics
    • ME 575 Adaptive Materials and Systems
    • ME 580 Composite Materials
    • ME 698 Graduate Seminar
    • EGR 501Topics in Sustainable Systems Engineering
    • EGR 502 Topics in Advanced Engineering Design
    • GLG 670 Advanced Hydrogeology

    Faculty and staff

    Earth & Planetary Systems

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    Nadine Barlow, Ph.D.
    Impact Cratering and Planetary Surfaces
    Phone: 928-523-5452

    Ernest Duebendorfer, Ph.D.
    Structural Geology
    Phone: 928-523-7510

    Thomas Hoisch, Ph.D.
    Metamorphic Petrology and Tectonics
    Phone: 928-523-1904

    David Koerner, Ph.D.
    Phone: 928-523-4562

    Rod Parnell, Ph.D.
    Aqueous Geochemistry
    Phone: 928-523-3329

    Mary Reid, Ph.D.
    Igneous Petrology and Isotope Geochemistry
    Phone: 928-523-7200

    Nancy Riggs, Ph.D.
    Volcanology and Tectonics
    Phone: 928-523-9362

    James Sample, Ph.D.
    Low-temperature Geochemistry and Structural Geology
    Phone: 928-523-0881

    David Trilling, Ph.D.
    Planetary Sciences

    Paul Umhoefer, Ph.D.
    Phone: 928-523-6464

    Climate & Environmental Change

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    Scott Anderson, Ph.D.
    Phone: 928-523-5821

    Brett Dickson, Ph.D.
    Conservation Biology
    Phone: 928-523-3592

    Deborah Huntzinger, Ph.D.
    Climate Science and Solutions – new faculty
    Phone: 928-523-1669

    Nancy Johnson, Ph.D.
    Soil Ecology
    Phone: 928-523-6473

    Darrell Kaufman, Ph.D.
    Phone: 928-523-7192

    Robert L. Sanford, Jr., Ph.D.
    Ecosystems biogeochemistry
    Phone: 928-523-1637

    Thomas Sisk, Ph.D.
    Conservation Biology
    Phone: 928-523-7183

    Abe Springer, Ph.D.
    Ecohydrology and Sustainable Hydrogeology
    Phone: 928-523-7198


    Engineering Sustainable Systems

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    Tom Acker, Ph.D.
    Energy Systems and Renewable Energy
    Phone: 928-523-8363

    Bridget Bero, Ph.D.
    Environmental Transport, Air Quality
    Phone: 928-523-2051

    Constantin Ciocanel, Ph.D.
    Engineering Mechanics and Advanced Materials

    Rand Decker, Ph.D.
    Snow and Avalanche Engineering
    Phone: 928-523-6083

    Heidi Feigenbaum, Ph.D.
    Engineering Mechanics/Continuum Mechanics/Material Modeling

    Paul Flikkema, Ph.D.
    Computational Ecological Systems
    Phone: 928-523-6114

    Joshua Hewes, Ph.D.
    Sustainable Structural Engineering
    Phone: 928-523-1478

    Brent Nelson, Ph.D.
    Energy, Renewable Energy, Thermal Processes
    Phone: 928-523-0862

    Ernesto Penado, Ph.D.
    Applications of Composite Sustainable Materials
    Phone: 928-523-9453

    John Tester, Ph.D.
    Systems Engineering and Engineering Education
    Phone: 928-523-0032

    Peter Vadasz, Ph.D.
    Energy Systems and General Sustainability
    Phone: 928-523-5843

    Niranjan Venkatraman, Ph.D.
    Sustainable Electrical Engineering
    Phone: 928-523-0373