The role of water in physiology, ecology, and ecosystems is a central focus of several faculty in the Department of Biology.
- David Bowling investigates interactions between water and carbon cycles in natural ecosystems, with a regional focus in the western United States.
- Jim Ehleringer is a pioneer of stable isotope ecology, and founding member of the Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC). Jim also played a leading role in initiating the NSF-funded iUTAH project (Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydrosustainability) that focuses on preserving Utah's water resources (http://iutahepscor.org).
- Thomas Kursar is a tropical ecologist who works broadly on the water relations of rainforest and dryforest trees, and their responses to drought.
- Diane Pataki studies the role of plants and soils in human-dominated and urban ecosystems, merging plant physiology, ecohydrology, ecosystem science with social sciences and urban planning.
- John Sperry focuses on plant water relations and adaptations to environmental stress, with a particular interest in vascular water transport and its linkage to plant performance in a changing climate.
- Nalini Nadkarni studies the ecological roles of canopy-dwelling plants and animals in tropical and temperate rain forests. She also carries out public engagement programs to bring environmental research to scientifically underserved public audiences.
Beyond the specialties of these laboratories (all members of the GCSC), the Department of Biology includes a tremendous breadth amongst its more than 40 faculty, ranging from biomolecular biophysics and bioinformatics through host-parasite and plant-animal interactions to integrative physiology, conservation biology, and ecosystem science.