Roderic A. Parnell, Jr., Ph.D

Subject-matter expertise

  • Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Geochemistry and Geomorphology
  • Infusing Sustainability in Academic Programs


Rod Parnell is the coordinator of academic sustainability programs and a Professor of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. He is also the past chair of the environmental caucus at NAU, which consists of over 400 students, faculty, staff, and community members, committed to creative and strategic communication to advance the institutional commitment to sustainability. He is currently serving as the President Elect of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment.

Dr. Parnell’s current research focuses on the application of biogeochemistry and geomorphology to the sustainable management of river systems in the Western US, and on the transformation of environmental curricula to incorporate more sustainability learning outcomes. He has also worked extensively on the effects of acid rain, volcanic emissions, and sulfide mineral deposits on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. As the founding director of the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, Dr. Parnell worked to integrate federally funded environmental research across the Colorado Plateau and assisted in the establishment of a national network of CESUs. 

Dr. Parnell has been a faculty member, developer of, and administrator, in interdisciplinary earth sciences and environmental programs offering BA, BS, MS, and PhD degrees. He has been the chair and the director of several earth sciences and environmental academic programs and a faculty member at St. Lawrence University, the University of Virginia, and Northern Arizona University. 

Publications (selection)

  • Parnell, R. A. Jr., Berutich, L, Henn, A. and Koressel, N. 2013. Campus as a Learning Laboratory: Linking Facilities, Operations, and Community Engagement to Undergraduate Research and Internship Opportunities. Council for Undergraduate Research Quarterly. In review.
  • Gosselin, D, Parnell, R. A., Jr., Smith-Sebato, N., and Vincent, S. 2013. Integration of Sustainability in Higher Education: Three Case Studies of Curricular Implementation. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. 3 (3) 316-330.
  • Nathan D. Schott, Helen C. Fairley, Joseph E. Hazel, Jr., Matt Kaplinski, and Roderic A. Parnell. 2012, Gully Monitoring in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, 1996 to 2010 with Emphasis on Documenting Effects of the March 2008 High-Flow Experiment. US Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-XXXX
  • Kaplinski, M., J. Hazel, J.E., Parnell, R. A., Jr., Breedlove, Michael, and Keith Kohl. 2009. Monitoring Fine-Sediment Volume in the Colorado River Ecosystem, Arizona, Bathymetric Survey Techniques. USGS Open File Report 2009-1207. 33pp
  • Springer, A.E., Stevens, L.E., Anderson, D.E., Parnell, R.A. Jr., Kreamer, D.K., and Flora, S.P. 2007. Comprehensive Springs Classification System: Integrating Geomorphic, Hydrogeochemical and Ecological Criteria.  in Every Last Drop: Ecology and Conservation   of Springs in Arid North America.  University of Arizona Press.
  • Marks, J. C., Parnell, R. A. Jr., Carter, C., Dinger, E, C., and Haden. A. 2006.  Interactions between geomorphology and ecosystem processes in travertine streams: Implications for dam decommissioning in Fossil Creek, Arizona. Geomorphology. 77: 209-307.
  •  *For a full list of research, please download Rod Parnell’s CV here.

Related activities


Ph.D Dartmouth College, 1982

M.S. University of Massachusetts, 1977

A.B. Middlebury College, 1975

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