Throughout the scholarship year, Carson Scholars work closely with several UA Faculty Mentors who provide hands-on training and other resources to develop skills, strategies, and products to effectively convey the value of their research and enhance their skills in communicating science to a variety of audiences. The program is administered by the UA Institute of the Environment.


Diana Liverman, Ph.D.
Regents’ Professor, School of Geography and Development

Diana Liverman is the founder of the Carson Scholars program. Her research has focused on the human dimensions of global environmental change, particularly climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation, and climate policy and mitigation in the developing world. She also works on the political economy and political ecology of environmental management in the Americas, especially Mexico. Her current projects include work on climate justice (including the role of women in climate science, climate and poverty in Tucson, and climate in the new Sustainable Development Goals), a study of the environmental impacts of NAFTA+20, societal response to megadrought, and the human dimensions of climate services and climate information provision. She was the co-designer of the new international research program, Future Earth.

Podcast: Climate Solutions: #LeadingWomen – Climate for Women’s Voices in Climate Science: The Good, The Bad and The Truth



Kevin Bonine, Ph.D.
Director, Education & Outreach, Biosphere 2
Joint Faculty in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment

Kevin studied Economics, Ecology, and Evolution during college. His Ph.D. research focused on evolutionary physiology in lizards. Recent research on reptiles and amphibians includes Gila monsters and canyon treefrogs, with emphasis on natural history, ecology, population genetics, and conservation. Kevin has taught many well-regarded UA courses and works to facilitate scientific communication and understanding broadly – including at Biosphere 2 which receives almost 100,000 annual visitors. A believer in experiential education, Kevin teaches a popular three-week field course that explores our region from atop our sky-island mountains down to the Gulf of California. In 2012 he received a UA Distinguished Early-Career Teaching Award and was named a Haury Faculty Fellow soon after. Kevin is also Director of Outreach Initiatives in the UA College of Science and serves on the boards of directors of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Friends of Saguaro National Park.


Christopher Cokinos, MFA
Professor, Department of English

Christopher Cokinos has been writing about nature and science since he wrote a 2000 memoir and natural history about extinct North American birds called Hope Is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds. He's interviewed wildlife biologists, physicists, astronomers and engineers, and, along the way, found some were better than others at conveying both passion and precision about their work. Those experiences, combined with concern about climate change, led Chris to be part of the initial group of trainees at what is now the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. He brought a newly ignited desire to help teach science communication when he arrived at the University of Arizona in 2011. Since then, he's taught "sci-comm" classes, organized and co-facilitated faculty workshops and been a mentor or lead mentor for the Carson Scholars program.

"The Carson Scholars program has been, in some ways," he says, "my intellectual home ground, where my interests in creativity, communication and science can co-exist. It's deeply gratifying to see Carson Scholars blossom as communicators."

Now at work on essays about the Moon, Chris is the author of multiple other works, some of which have taken him far into the field, including a meteorite expedition in Antarctica. He is a winner of a UA Graduate Professional and Student Council Mentor of the Year Award. For the Carson program, Chris focuses on helping students with public speaking, pitches and writing personal essays. His own public outreach experiences are wide and varied, including an interview on "All Things Considered," op-eds for the Los Angeles Times and answering difficult questions asked by children at planetariums.

Chris's faculty bio can be found here.


Rachel Gallery, Ph.D. 
Joint Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Rachel Gallery is an Ecologist and an Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment and Ecology and Evolutionary Department at the University of Arizona. Rachel earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. from American University. She was a Postdoctoral Fellow of Wolfson College at Oxford University and a Staff Scientist at the National Ecological Observatory Network before joining the UA faculty in 2011. She leads a research group that has published 25 papers on the ecology of plants and soils in response to fires, land use change, and climate change. Rachel is an Associate Editor for the journal Functional Ecology and regularly speaks at local outreach events and international conferences. A 2017 Tucson Public Voices Fellow, Rachel is learning how to write and pitch ideas through the OpEd Project. She serves on the Leadership Team of the 500 Women Scientists, a not-for-profit organization whose mission aligns with her personal mission to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible.


Andrea K. Gerlak, Ph.D. (Lead Mentor) 
Professor, School of Geography and Development
Director, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy

Andrea K. Gerlak has been designing and implementing interdisciplinary environmental programs for the past two decades.  First at Guilford College, a small liberal arts college in North Carolina and then later, Columbia University’s program at Biosphere 2 in Arizona, she has been collaborating with ecologists, hydrologists, geologists, and a range of experts in the social sciences and humanities, to foster interdisciplinarity in undergraduate and graduate education. 

These curricular experiences are heightened by Andrea’s research agenda on collaboration in environmental governance, which addresses how diverse actors in the private sector, non-profits, universities and government collectively govern natural resources and resolve conflict. Her research has taken her on explorations of the Colorado River Delta, helicopter rides over the Florida Everglades and in the meeting rooms of the countless collaborative venues across the U.S. to better understand matters of institutional design and performance, especially the role of science in environmental decision-making. 

Since joining the faculty of the University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development in 2016, Andrea has been teaching in the university’s interdisciplinary environmental studies program and serving as a mentor, and now lead mentor, or the Carson Scholars Program.  She holds a joint appointment with the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy where she collaborates with researchers and students around environmental policy issues in the U.S. For the Carson Scholars Program, Andrea mentors students with public speaking, pitches and op-ed and bio sketch writing assignments. 

“It is so gratifying to see the personal and professional growth of our Carson Scholars as they find their voice,” says Andrea.  “I see this as simply the most important work of my career.”

Andrea’s public outreach activities include op-eds in The Hill, blog posts and community talks.  Through her funded work with the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, and other projects in the American Southwest, she engages directly with decision-makers and practitioners to help promote a more just, inclusive and sustainable management of our water resources.


Hea-Ream Lee
Lecturer, Department of English

Hea-Ream Lee, MFA, is a writer interested in science and the natural world and the ways they transect human experiences. She has a background in biology and received an MFA in creative nonfiction at the University of Arizona, where she edited fiction for Sonora Review. She currently teaches in the English department as a lecturer at the UA. Hea-Ream’s work has appeared in Shenandoah,, Popula, Hobart, and others, and she has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference and the Wormfarm Institute. Her current project is a book about seed banks and longing. As a former Carson Scholar, Hea-Ream understands the value of an interdisciplinary space dedicated to teaching the art of science communication. She is thrilled to be returning to the program as a mentor to the next generation of Carson Scholars. 


Biosphere 2

College of Engineering 

College of Science Galileo Circle

Graduate College

Arizona Institute for Resilience

Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment & Social Justice

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences