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Rod Parnell is a coordinator of academic sustainability programs, past chair of the Environmental Caucus, and Professor of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. He is the President of the National Council of Environmental Deans and Directors and a member of the boards of directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment and of Arizona Forward. As coordinator of academic sustainability at NAU, he has worked to improve sustainability curricula across campus, to promote and support academic programs with sustainability emphases, to reduce redundancy in sustainability and environmental coursework, and to work with the finance and administration division to promote sustainability-related internships and research. His current research focuses on the application of biogeochemistry and geomorphology to the sustainable management of river systems in the Western US, and on the transformation of environmental curricula to incorporate more sustainability. He has worked on the effects of acid rain, volcanic emissions, and sulfide mineral deposits on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. He has received more than $11 million in research funding from federal and non-governmental organizations in the US, Europe, and Latin America, resulting in over 140 journal articles and papers presented at national and international meetings.
As the founding director of the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, he worked to integrate federally funded environmental research across the Colorado Plateau and assisted in the establishment of a national network of CESUs. He has advised 38 graduate students and 24 undergraduate researchers who have successfully completed their degrees. He has been the chair or director of several earth sciences and environmental academic programs. He received a PhD in Geology from Dartmouth College, a MS from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a BA from Middlebury College. He has also been a faculty member at St. Lawrence University and the University of Virginia.
His perspectives on environmental and sustainability education come primarily from activities as faculty member at a mid-sized comprehensive state university with a strong commitment to the Colorado Plateau region and the education of 1st generation and Native American students from across North America. NAU’s leadership in these areas has resulted in a significant population of Native American students in its programs and the positive impact of Native American perspectives on academic programs at NAU.