Biosphere 2 Director to Discuss Facility's Role in Understanding Climate Change
UA biologist Travis Huxman will explain how the Oracle-based facility operates as a living laboratory for a range of scientists.

By Sean Fitzpatrick, Flandrau: The UA Science Center
March 5, 2010

Tuesday's "Science Café" features Biosphere 2 director Travis Huxman, who will speak about innovative research at the University of Arizona facility.

Huxman, who also directs B2 Earthscience and is an UA associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, will present his talk, "UA Science at Biosphere 2: Finding Solutions for Big-Picture Problems."

The event will be held at 6 p.m. and Café participants will be able to ask questions after Huxman's presentation.

Biosphere 2 allows scientists to conduct large-scale experiments in a closed environment where they can control variables such as temperature, humidity, and rainfall. These experiments enable scientists to predict and for policy makers to plan for the effects of climate change and shifting rainfall patterns. The results will assist society in meeting future challenges posed by environmental changes.

Research at Biosphere 2 is focused to address questions about water and energy in natural landscapes as well as engineered cities and towns.

As climate shifts and population growth strains the equilibrium in the desert environment, knowledge about water and energy will offer guidance to a more prosperous and sustainable future in the Southwest.

Huxman graduated from California State University, San Bernardino and has a doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

He was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Colorado before joining the University of Arizona in 2001.

Huxman is trained broadly in biology and his interests include the evolution of plant traits, the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and a range of other topics.

He has worked in deserts, grasslands and forests throughout North America, studying the physiological underpinning of how plants grow and reproduce, how climate variability and change affects plant and ecosystem processes and how ecosystems services relate to the human endeavor.

Huxman's current research focuses on understanding the role of deserts in global climate. The ways that deserts acquire and process carbon from the atmosphere and use water on the landscape are important feedbacks on global change, and those natural processes affect the availability of resources for consumption by society. 

Some important aspects of this current research include how ecological phenomena such as non-native species invasions affect the relationship between ecosystem carbon balance, water use and climate.

Shipherd Reed, a program coordinator at Flandrau: The UA Science Center, will moderate the discussion. Following the program, audience members will have the opportunity to submit discussion topic ideas for subsequent Science Café events.

Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. More information is available online on Flandrau: The UA Science Center and the Science Café's Web sites and also on Facebook. To join the conversation on Twitter, search for the username, " @FlandrauAZ."

Extra info


Science Café: UA Science at Biosphere 2: Finding Solutions for Big-Picture Problems


Cushing Street Bar & Restaurant, 198 W. Cushing St, Downtown Tucson


Tuesday, March 9, 6 p.m.

The event is free but seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.


Resources for the media

Jennifer Fields

Associate Director for Education

Flandrau: The UA Science Center