Diane Pataki
  • Professor, Biology
  • Associate Dean for Research, College Of Science
  • Adjunct Professor, City & Metropolitan Planning

Research Summary

My lab studies human-environment interactions related to urban vegetation, resource use, and landscape design. In our research projects in semi-arid, irrigated cities we collaborate with social scientists, urban planners, landscape architects, engineers, philosophers, and local stakeholders to understand the interacting roles of climate, biodiversity, and human agency in urban ecological processes.


  • B.A., Environmental Science, Barnard College, Columbia University
  • M.S., Ecology, School of the Environment, Duke University
  • Ph.D., Ecology, Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment


Dr. Diane E. Pataki is a Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Utah with an adjunct appointment in the Department of City & Metropolitan Planning. She also serves as Associate Dean for Research in the College of Science. Prior to arriving in Utah in 2012, she was on the faculty of the University of California, Irvine for 8 years where she was the founding Director of the Center for Environmental Biology and the Steele Burnand Anza Borrego Desert Research Center. She received a B.A. in environmental science at Barnard College and an M.S. and Ph.D. at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Pataki’s work is transdisciplinary and has spanned the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, coupled human-natural processes related to urban CO2 emissions, and the role of urban landscaping and forestry in the socioecology of cities. Dr. Pataki is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union and the Ecological Society of America and Chief Specialty Editor for the joint Urban Ecology section of the journals Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution and Frontiers in Sociology. She is a member of the National Science Foundation Directorate for Biological Sciences Advisory Committee (NSF BIO AC) and the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education (NSF AC ERE). She has previously served as a Program Director in the NSF Division of Environmental Biology and a member of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Board of Scientific Counselors. She is also currently Vice President Elect for Science of the Ecologial Society of America. Her recent essays on people and nature in cities can be found at http://thenatureofcities.com.