Our Mission

The University of Utah has created a new, interdisciplinary faculty group focusing on areas of Society, Water, and Climate (SWC). This transformative group connects research on hydrology, air quality, climate change, societal response, and policy, seeking to meld multiple scientific perspectives to lead society towards sustainable water solutions in a changing world.

This interdisciplinary group enhances the University of Utah's core commitment to sustainability, and complement ongoing, related research across departments and colleges on campus.


The Theoretical Framework of the Society, Water, and Climate Research Group 

Water is the key limiting resource for human development and for ecological and agricultural productivity in the Western US, and in many parts of the world. Climate change, water availability, and air quality are closely linked. Climate change will bring increased temperatures combined with likely increases in the severity, frequency, and duration of weather extremes, such as droughts and floods. Changes in water availability due to climate change will be further complicated by use of water for agriculture, changes in land use, and population growth. Elevated temperatures can also increase the production and concentration of photochemical oxidants, which has serious implications for human health. Furthermore, increased air pollution can affect the longevity of snowpack which affects water storage and resources. Climate change will have important ecological impacts, including changes in species distribution and ecosystem function, insect disturbance, and wildfire activity. Emissions from wildfires adversely impact air quality in downwind locations. In many regions of the world, issues centered on climate change and water availability will profoundly shape society in the next century. Addressing these issues requires a focused, transdisciplinary effort from scientists with expertise in society, water and climate.

The University of Utah currently has faculty members conducting research in these areas; however, the University administration identified this nexus of research areas as an opportunity for the development of a research group. Further enhancing strengths in this area at the University of Utah will allow us to contribute to solving important issues facing the Western US and many other regions around the world. Filling this gap also means that we will broaden our ability to train undergraduates and graduates to lead society towards sustainable water solutions in a changing world.

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Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa


The Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa solicits applications for the 2018 Young Scholar Grant Program. University of Utah junior faculty and graduate students from any discipline are eligible to apply, but preference will be given to projects most consistent with the mission and values of Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa. Past awards have gone to researchers in Geology, Biology, Urban Planning, Theater, Art, Music, Anthropology, and Environmental Humanities. We continue to welcome applicants from these departments, but also encourage applicants from departments without a history of awards to apply