The University of Utah Global Change and Sustainability Center recently released “Embedded in Nature: The University of Utah Field Stations,” a coffee table biography of the university’s six field stations. The book explores the history and use of each station through stories, photos and maps. It is available for $29.95 at the University Campus Store.
“Embedded in Nature: The University of Utah Field Stations” explores six field stations, including Bonderman Field Station at Rio Mesa, Range Creek, Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area, Taft-Nicholson Center for Environmental Humanities, Telescope Array and the university campus in its use as a living laboratory. The book was written by Jim Ehleringer, distinguished professor in biology, with co-authors Shaun Daniel, research associate in the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program; Sylvia Torti, dean of the Honors College and professor of biology; Brenda Bowen, director of the Global Change and Sustainability Center and associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics; and Tom Parks, former vice president for Research. Ehleringer initiated the project as an invitation for more students to undertake field learning.
“Ask alumni what they remember of their undergraduate experiences, and many will quickly recall the excitement of their field station experiences, even decades after they have graduated from the university,” Ehleringer said. “It is important to have information available in a coffee table book format that quickly shows students what rich and diverse outdoor training opportunities are available here at the University of Utah.”
From the sagebrush steppe landscapes in the north to the sandstone landscape and a wild river in the south, the stations encompass a wide range of ecosystems in the Intermountain West. Scholarly activities at the stations facilitate rich intellectual exchange among artists, scientists and writers about these dynamic environments. Courses held in the stations enrich faculty teaching with place-based experiences for students.
For Bowen, the field stations encourage members of the university learning community to explore the interface of natural and human habitats.
“Our job as educators is to develop citizens who are versed in a scientific understanding of the world who can also speak in terms of the economic, cultural, ethical and personal parameters of complex social issues,” Bowen said. “These living laboratories help us take our students beyond their comfortable urban lives, instill a sense of wonder and infuse the quest for discovery and invention.”
The book received generous financial support from the Office of the Vice President for Research, Ehleringer, the Global Change and Sustainability Center and the Honors College. The field stations described in the book are thoughtfully managed by colleges and units from across campus.
“The natural systems at the field stations are like libraries where the species might be thought of as books, their interactions like complicated plots of love — life and death — all unfolding before us in real time,” Torti said. “These are places where we can peer into the past and envision new futures. The university’s investment in field stations is exciting for us now but will become even more valuable to students and faculty of the future.”
“Embedded in Nature: The University of Utah Field Stations” is available for purchase at the University Campus Store. All proceeds will support further research at the field stations.