See our interactive map with locations and descriptions of the research we're doing around the world.
The Geography Department engages in cutting-edge research across the breadth of the discipline. CU Boulder is one of the few geography programs to maintain an active research profile in most of Geography's subfields. Our faculty and graduate students bring in significant extramural funding from such national agencies as the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the National Institutes of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NASA, the US Forest Service, the US Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and USAID. Many of our faculty also have research appointments in campus centers and institutes including IBS, INSTAAR, CIRES, and Earth Lab.Faculty research interests can be found on individual faculty and graduate student pages, while recent research achievements are highlighted in our 'Department Research News' section, along with the list of theses and dissertations.
Geography Partners Associated With Our Faculty
Many of our faculty and students conduct interdisciplinary research and are affiliated with other units on the CU Boulder Campus as well as nearby Federal labs.
We look at how best to apply our research to serve society's needs. CIRES researchers explore all aspects of the earth system and search for ways to better understand how natural and human-made disturbances impact our dynamic planet. Our focus on innovation and collaboration has made us a world leader in interdisciplinary research and teaching. We're committed to communicating our research in ways that help inform decision-makers and the public about how we can best ensure a sustainable future environment
- The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences
- A joint institute of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado at Boulder
- Engaged in earth system research that spans six major divisions
- Home to five research centers on the CU-Boulder campus
- Inspired and directed by a diverse Council of Fellows
- Committed to education and outreach at all levels
- Host to more than 220 visiting research scientists since 1967
- A research and learning environment like no other
Our researchers uncover and communicate processes concerning earth and environmental systems - matters that are becoming ever more urgent as changes in climate and land use are felt worldwide.
As the University of Colorado’s oldest institute, INSTAAR has a long history of responding to pressing environmental issues. Our traditional focus has been on polar and alpine regions, where effects of global change are especially pronounced. In recent decades, our research has broadened to include environmental challenges that span local, regional, and global scales. INSTAAR research topics range widely and include Quaternary and modern environments, human and ecosystem ecology, biogeochemistry, landscape evolution, hydrology, oceanography, and climate. Our field sites are located across all seven continents and the world’s oceans.
Our expertise across disciplines helps us generate influential science that can inform policy decisions and improve society’s awareness and understanding of natural and anthropogenic global change.
The Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) is a research institute within the Graduate School of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Since its establishment in 1957, it has provided a setting for interdisciplinary, collaborative research on problems of societal concern. By engaging faculty from all the social and behavioral sciences at the University, IBS encourages work that transcends disciplinary boundaries, that illuminates the complexity of social behavior and social life, and that has important implications for social policy.
IBS is organized into five research programs, each defined by an interdisciplinary area of research and directed by a senior research scientist. Three programs have centers which specialize in research topics consistent with the broader goals of the Program. Computing and Research Services provides computing and information technology services for IBS research activities.
We offer a broad, but rigorous, interdisciplinary education. Both the undergraduate and graduate degrees draw on courses and expertise from more than thirty participating departments, centers, and other units on campus, emphasizing the earth and natural sciences as well as the social sciences and humanities. Students can also take advantage of many opportunities for less-formal "real-world" learning, including internships for class credit.
Our academic program focuses on quantitative studies of water in the environment including its role in geologic and biogeochemical processes, ecosystem functions, and global elemental cycling.
- Interdisciplinary & interdepartmental (CEAE, EBIO, ENVS, GEOG, & GEOL).
- For science & engineering graduate students.
- Intensive in math & physics, including fluid dynamics.
- PhD Degree and Graduate Certificate offered.
- Research Partners: CADSWES, INSTAAR, & other research units of CU-Boulder; USGS & NOAA.
The Institute of Behavioral Science includes a vibrant community of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers who are training in interdisciplinary research. They do this as a complement to their training in their home discipline. Many students and postdocs are housed in the Institute building and work closely with their mentors on a daily basis.
Graduate students and postdocs who affiliate with the Institute of Behavioral Science are not admitted through the institute, but are admitted through various social science-related departments and programs. For admissions materials, see the Departments of Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, and the Environmental Studies Program.
Earth Lab was launched by CU Boulder’s Grand Challenge in September of 2015 and adopted by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in July 2017. Earth Lab is an Earth systems synthesis center aimed at addressing emerging needs and opportunities associated with the deluge of Earth systems data and the growth of analytical power that, combined, can generate new insights. The diversity of available data about our Earth provides opportunities to ask questions at temporal and spatial scales not previously possible. This precipitates a need to evaluate how we conduct science, how we build collaborations, and how we teach the next generation. Earth Lab’s mission is to harness the data revolution through research, analytics, and education to accelerate understanding of global environmental change to help society better manage and adapt.
Earth Lab's research agenda includes many aspects of global environmental change and includes science projects that focus on fire, forests, permafrost, erosion, risk and decision making, data harmonization, extreme events, human health and environmental change, and human settlements.
Earth Lab's Analytics Hub brings together computer scientists, statisticians, earth scientists, and aerospace engineers, the group provides tools, training, and support for data processing, analysis, and visualization to the Earth Lab team and the broader scientific community.
Earth Lab's Education Initiative currently offers 3 courses in earth data analytics. All materials are online. Additionally, the Earth Data Analytics - Foundations professional graduate certificate will be offered through the University of Colorado Boulder Earth Lab beginning in August 2018.
Earth Lab consists of full time staff, postdocs, GRAs, undergraduate interns, and faculty affiliates. Earth Lab also partners with government agencies and industry partners. Earth Lab facilities include office space in SEEC S348 and a newly renovated visualization studio and decision theater in SEEC S372.
The Center for Asian Studies (CAS) is an interdisciplinary organization located on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado that brings together faculty, students, and community members to encourage and support Asian scholarship across disciplinary and college boundaries. CAS has recently been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as one of only three National Resource Centers for Asian Studies nationwide, a credit to the strength of CU's Asian language and area studies programs. CAS organizes events, supports research and teaching, and acts as a key resource for students and scholars with an interest in Asian Studies. The Center's area of focus encompasses all of Asia, from China and Japan to the countries of the Middle East.
The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research was initiated within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the summer of 2001 as a contribution both to the CIRES goal of "promoting science in service to society" and to the University's vision of establishing research and outreach across traditional academic boundaries.
The Center for Water, Earth Science and Technology (CWEST) is a scientific and educational partnership between the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) with the center being a part of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR).
CWEST builds upon the many successful and on-going collaborations that have been taking place between INSTAAR researchers and others at CU with scientists at the USGS, including those working with the USGS’s National Research Program and its Earth Surface Dynamics Program.
We advance scientific and societal understanding of the Earth System based on innovative remote sensing research. Through our research, we provide fundamental insights into how the Earth system functions, how it is changing, and what those changes mean for life on Earth, for the benefit of human kind.
We support research into our world's frozen realms: the snow, ice, glacier, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth's cryosphere. Scientific data, whether taken in the field or relayed from satellites orbiting Earth, form the foundation for the scientific research that informs the world about our planet and our climate systems.
Geography in CU Boulder Today
- Boulder Creek Critical Zone Observatory Professor Suzanne Anderson
- JPL-CalTech Professor Noah Molotch
- Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Professor Mark Williams
- Center for Water, Earth Science and Technology Professor Noah Molotch
- Earth Lab Professors Jennifer Balch, William Travis
- Boulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative Professor Jennifer Fluri
- Tibet Himalaya Initiative Professor Emily Yeh