Jim Ehleringer portrait
  • Director, Stable Isotope Ratio Facility for Environmental Research, Biology
  • Adjunct Professor, Geology & Geophysics
  • Distinguished Professor, Biology

Research Summary

Ecology and the environment, sustainability, climate change, stable isotopes


  • B.S, Biology, San Diego State University
  • M.S., Biology, San Diego State University
  • Ph.D., Biology, Stanford University



Jim Ehleringer has spent his research and teaching faculty career at the University of Utah, where he is currently a Distinguished Professor of Biology. Prior to moving to Utah in 1977, Jim received his Ph.D. from Stanford University. While at Utah, he has developed a multi-disciplinary research and teaching program with a broad focus on ecology and the environment. Jim has published more than 480 articles and served as mentor and advisor to scores of students and postdoctoral investigators. His research spans from global change impacts on natural and urban ecosystems through forensic science. Jim's recent research projects include exploring long-term dynamics of desert plants, understanding the carbon cycle, investigating stable isotope variation in humans and in our foods, deciphering the basis of biomarkers in climate studies, and stable isotope applications to forensic issues.

Jim’s administrative career began as Chair of Biology. He then served as Associate Director of the IGBP Global Change and Terrestrial Ecology Program. Until 2015, he was the Founding Director of Utah’s interdisciplinary Global Change and Sustainability Center (GCSC); Jim serves as a co-PI of Utah’s EPSCoR iUTAH Project. He is also the Director of the Stable Isotope Ratio Facility for Environmental Research (SIRFER), which offers IsoCamp annually as part of its national training program integrating stable isotopes with continental-scale ecology.

Over time, environmental applications of Jim’s research in stable isotopes naturally expanded to include applications relevant to law enforcement and national security. Those activities resulted in the development of an independent off-campus company, IsoForensics Inc. This small University Research Park company focuses on region-of-origin applications for federal agencies and commercial interests.

Jim and his wife Edna moved to Utah in the late 1970’s, where they both established educational careers, raised a family, and put down roots. Edna has been a teacher and administrator in the Jordan, Granite, and Salt Lake City School Districts. Edna earned a Bachelors Degree at San Diego State University and a Masters Degree at Utah State University. During her career she has received numerous awards for her contributions and administrative skills. She recently retired from teaching Gifted and Talented (ELP) at Franklin Elementary School. Jim and Edna enjoy fishing, traveling, gardening, and spending time in Millcreek Canyon. They have two married children. Jeff and his family live in Portland Oregon and Josh and his family have settled into Hailey Idaho.


Certified Approved Forensic Practitioner, Forensic Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry Network, 2013-2017