See Our Partner Facilities

The research of our faculty and students is supported by facilities in Guggenheim and in our partnering units, on the CU Boulder Campus in the Front Range area. Here are some examples:

Biogeography Lab. Guggenheim. The Biogeography Lab of the Geography Department is directed by Professor Thomas T. Veblen and supports research in the areas of forest dynamics, disturbance ecology and dendroecology.

The principal facilities of the Lab include two computerized tree-ring measuring systems, field equipment and instrumentation to support research in plant ecology and dendrochronology, and basic support for GIS applications in vegetation science.

Currently, the Lab supports research by two postdoctoral research associates and six graduate students, assisted by approximately five undergraduate students.

CU-MRS. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Above Ward, Colorado. The Mountain Research Station (MRS), directed by Bill Bowman, is an interdisciplinary research facility of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado, devoted to advancement of study of mountain ecosystems. Our mission is to facilitate research and education to better understand the unique patterns and processes of biotic and physical systems in mountains, and how environmental changes may influence these patterns and processes.

The support facilities of the MRS include laboratories, offices, classrooms, cabins, a dining hall, and a bathhouse. Laboratories include the Kiowa wet-chemistry lab, several plant, soil, and chemistry labs within the larger John W. Marr Laboratory Building, and the Tundra Lab located at 3500 m on Niwot Ridge. The MRS also manages the 1200 ha Niwot Ridge Biosphere Reserve for the US Forest Service as a site for research and education.

The MRS supports many research programs including the Niwot Ridge Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Site. The NWT-LTER study area straddles the Continental Divide about 35 miles northwest of Boulder.

The MRS receives academic contributions from the Boulder campus departments of Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology; Geography; and Geological Sciences.

DOM Lab. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, East Campus, RL-1. This laboratory is managed by Mark Williams and Diane McKnight. It specializes in measuring the amount and character of dissolved organic matter from diverse ecosystems.

Major equipment includes Shimadzu TOC analyzer, Antec 9000 DON analyzer, Agilent 8453 spectrophotometer, FluroMax2 fluorometer, fractionation columns, and Ulter-filtration.


KESDA Lab. Guggenheim RM 6. KESDA Lab is an instructional computer lab with advanced software and hardware used to teach technique (skills) courses in geography. 

Kiowa Lab. Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, East Campus, RL-1. The Kiowa Environmental Chemistry Laboratory is the environmental chemistry laboratory for the Niwot Ridge / Green Lakes Valley Long-Term Ecological Research Program. The laboratory analyzes air, snow, water, and soil samples collected by faculty and graduate students from alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems for major solutes and nutrients.

Equipped with an ion chromatograph, a spectrophotometric flow injection analyzer, a specrophotometric segmented flow analyzer, a microplate reader, a Picarro Wavelength-Scanned Cavity Ring Down Spectroscopy for analyzing stable water isotopes, several muffle furnaces, and an atomic absorbtion spectrometer.

The lab is managed by Christine Siebold and directed by Mark Williams and Diane McKnight.

Meridian Lab. Guggenheim, room 301B. The Meridian Lab is directed by Professor Barbara P. Buttenfield and pursues research to develop and evaluate new software tools for Geographic Information Science. These software tools support visualization and modeling in geographic analysis and cartography. Research projects include a variety of topics: designing algorithms to generalize base map data, creating self-organizing data catalogs, building multi-scale databases, interviewing rural Colorado planners about obstacles to adopting geospatial technologies, and working out the mechanics of item-level metadata.

Software tools are developed and evaluated for:

  • Interface design and usability evaluation
    • Transaction logging, focus groups and surveys of Web-based GIS systems
    • Subject testing of graphical displays
  • Multiple representations
    • Map generalization and multi-scale views on spatial databases
    • Animation and multimedia presentation of geospatial data
  • Metadata recording and browsing
    • Automatic georeferencing of metadata from existing catalog records
    • Establishing needs and requirements for geospatial metadata archives
  • GIS modeling
    • Determining sensitivity of GIS model outputs to data resolution
    • Distributing GIS processes and operators

Currently, the Lab supports research by six graduate students, assisted by one undergraduate student.

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

CIRES is...

  • 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

CIRES Website

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.

IBS Website


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.

ENVS Website

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.

Hydrologic Sciences Website

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.

IBS Website


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. 

Earth Lab website

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.

CAS Website

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.

CSTPR Website

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.

CWEST website

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.

ESOC Website

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.

NSIDC Website