Scientific program

Most of the scientific operations conducted at Iglobes are part of international collaborative projects funded through requests for proposals. As evidenced by the high number of deliverables, this operating method has shown that it is efficient and productive. However, to prevent these operations and their participants from working in isolated operations that are too separate, encourage scientific dialog and collaborative synergies, and to enhance interdisciplinary knowledge, exchanges, and an institutional sense of belonging, we would like to reorganize our scientific research into three new prongs: 1. Critical environmental sciences; 2. Measurements, models, experimentation; 3. Transdisciplinary dialog. These three prongs were defined based on “scientific issues,” stakes, and methods rather than on specific purposes or thematic subjects. They will enable researchers to express their own approaches of the general thematic unity “Lives and life forms - crises, futures, and developments.” 

Prong 1: Critical environmental sciences

This first prong led by Sébastien Roux (CNRS) aims to offer a space for dialog on the environmental crisis (or crises) and the way in which they impact human lives. Combining qualitative and quantitative approaches, its aim is not only to document radical environmental changes but also and primarily, to pair this knowledge with an in-depth understanding of their social, moral, and political consequences. This prong will strive to reconcile the most pragmatic approaches to ecological upheavals (development of expertise to support transitions, implementation of new tools for understanding and action, enhancement of local initiatives, development of partnerships, etc.) with more theoretical and systemic thinking (readings of the anthropocene, political innovations, new regimes of affectivity, life forms in crisis, etc.). 


While remaining open to a transdisciplinary approach, this prong will focus more on the social sciences - and in particular geography, anthropology, history, and sociology, in which the CNRS and the University of Arizona have a strong relationship that goes back many years. It will host primarily students and researchers in the social sciences who are assigned to Iglobes. Lastly, the new assistant director who will follow Sébastien Roux during the five-year term - and who will come in as a rule from SSH Institute- will be benefit upon his or her arrival of an identified and flexible space in which he or she may conduct his or her own research and benefit from existing relationships.

Prong 2: Measurements, models, and experimentation

The second prong, led by Régis Ferrière (UA and ENS-PSL), is the continuation of the research conducted by Iglobes on sustainability and resilience at the crossroads between ecological and social sciences in an approach combining observation, modeling, and experimentation. What is at stake is a better understanding of the dynamic of environments in all the dimensions directly or indirectly affecting human populations; analyzing and quantifying how individuals perceive these environmental dynamics; elucidating the cognitive, behavioral, and collective mechanisms by which perception influences action; and lastly, developing predictive approaches to assess the consequences (feedback) of behavior on the environment at different scales of time, space, and social structuring. As part of the perspective opened up by multiple projects conducted during the reference period with the support of MITI, this prong’s objective will be to make an in-depth connection between the empirical measurement of environmental and human parameters; integration of measurements, and mathematical and computational modeling of ecological, behavioral, and social processes; and experimentation under controlled conditions. The concept of tipping points, whose relevance in the analysis and modeling of socio-ecosystems was assessed during the prior period, will remain central to this prong. International collaborations (B2-Ecotron IleDeFrance, EMERGE Biology Integration Institute) whose aim is to obtain a quantitative assessment of environmental changes and their biological and ecological effects in the dimensions impacting the functioning of societies and the health of individuals will also be continued.

This prong consists of multiple strategic stakes:

  • Bringing together Iglobes  and the UA’s environmental analysis and modeling structures, in particular six departments and schools that are part of five colleges: Department of Mathematics (College of Science), Department of Economics (Eller College of Management), Department of Community, Environment and Policy (College of Public Health), Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (College of Public Health), School of Government and Public Policy (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences), School of Natural Resources and the Environment (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences).
  • Strengthening our partnerships between International Research Centers and setting up new ones aimed at conducting environmental modeling and resilience measurement, in particular with the Laboratoire Nanotechnologies et Nanosystèmes (LN2) at the Université de Sherbrooke, the Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) at the University of British Columbia, and the Center for Modeling at the Universidad de Chile.
  • Making Iglobes more appealing to the French community in terms of mathematical modeling of environmental and social systems. 

Prong 3: Transdisciplinary dialog

Lastly, this third prong led jointly by Régis Ferrière and Sébastien Roux, will be  a priority space to encourage cross-knowledge and mutual understanding. Although Iglobes has a long tradition of transdisciplinary collaboration, the many different scientific approaches we host are a major challenge. The purpose of this prong is to get the disciplines to talk to each other through the exhibition and discussion of methods - even epistemologies - that are the basis of our various research. Therefore, this prong will present both the scientific breakthroughs made possible by transcending a specific discipline (presentation of research conducted, changes in issues, adjustments, and innovations) and the theoretical and practical limits and specific difficulties that it can bring with it. The research developed through this prong will become part of the flagship programs of the University of Arizona in the area of the science of team science and the science of convergence in research.

Supporting the scheduled programs

To successfully complete its research program and assert its renewed scientific identity, Iglobes may back a substantial number of projects that are conducted or extend over the next five-year period. We will briefly present five below which, based on structuring collaborations in the Iglobes’s operations will support the dynamic of Iglobes based on the guideline “Lives and life forms - crises, futures, and changes.” These projects will stand out due to their resolutely interdisciplinary nature and the close collaborations that they involve between French research centers and the University of Arizona. 



This research program proposes a new approach to the relationship between societies and their hydrosystems understood as a series of connections, disconnections, and reconnections that take place in all fields and dimensions. Therefore, the use of bodies of water or water resources creates material or symbolic connections, the creation of physical disconnections (dams) or social disconnections (invisible hydrosystems) and recent policies, which stress the flow between various elements and compartments of hydrosystems emphasize the reconnection at all levels. These three components will be analyzed using the Santa Cruz River watershed as a model. The analysis will involve in particular the effect of farmers’ decision between the use of groundwater and surface waters on the connections and disconnections of these networks, the role of climate and social thresholds, the ecological and economic impacts caused by these disconnections, their social perception, and the reconnection strategies of the networks. This project is funded by the DRIIHM LabEx and is part of a comparative program involving seven Human-Environment Observatories.


Partners: David Blanchon (LAVUE), Arnaud Buchs (GAEL, IEP of Grenoble), François-Michel Le Tourneau (CREDA), Sharon Megdal (UA Water Resources Research Center), Adriana Zunega (UA School of Landscape Architecture and Planning), Tom Meixner (UA Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences).



Although climate change is a major contextual factor of global dimensions with local repercussions, the requirement to transition to other energies that arises from it takes on a different form, depending on the territories. Research on the local impact of the energy transition is mostly of a sectorial and monographic nature. The stake of this project, at the heart of the Human-Environment Observatories, is to transcend this compartmentalization by hybridizing the social, technical, and environmental dimensions specific to each socio-ecosystem. The idea of a nexus between society, technique, and environment will be tested by considering the Human-Environment Observatories as laboratories that can assess the impact of the energy transition on these three components. An integrated methodology will characterize the reconfiguration of socio-ecosystems and the interactions of humans and the environment at work within this framework. The team of the six test Human-Environment Observatories is rather interdisciplinary and brings together the skills necessary to grasp the paths of these reconfigurations. This methodology will be used to observe:

  • The technical reconfigurations that refer to changes in energy systems;
  • The societal reconfigurations which broadly include actor networks, public policies, and economic models;
  • The environmental reconfigurations consisting of the redistribution of spaces and their use, changes in landscapes, pressure on resources, and generally, the recomposition of environments. 

By adopting a comparative and interdisciplinary method, it is matter of collecting data and articulating the analyses produced on energy transition projects in the various territories and understand what reconfigurations are brought about by such processes.


Partners: François-Michel Le Tourneau (CREDA), Greg Baron-Gafford (UA School of Geography, Development, and the Environment), Sharon Megdal (UA Water Resources Research Center), Adriana Zunega (UA School of Landscape Architecture and Planning), Tom Meixner (UA Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences).



The roll-out of renewable energies requires new, low-carbon, production, storage, and transport technologies that use very large quantities of strategic metals. The overall objective of this project is to demonstrate how the metals used by low-carbon technologies constitute a vital, strategic, natural resource which has multiple economic stakes for the countries that possess them both over the short and long term. We will delve into the case of copper and its extraction in the State of Arizona (one of the world’s leading producers). We will analyze how the international financial and political context of the extraction of strategic metals influences the regional development of this extractive industry and places limits on local, public, environmental transition and sustainable development policies and how in exchange the regional, socio-economic dynamic and environmental dynamic of strategic metal extraction impacts the economy and the financing of the energy transition both nationally and globally. This project will be rolled out via a doctoral international mobility contract from InSHS.


Partners: Valérie Mignon (EconomiX), Mary Poulton (UA School of Mining and Geological Engineering), Brad Ross (UA School of Mining and Geological Engineering).



The One Health approach is the heart of the UA’s  research at the health/environment interface. As part of the Major Challenge taken up by the CNRS with the support of MITI, Iglobes, will host beginning in October 2002 a doctoral thesis on the interactions between climate change, ecosystem health, and human health. This research will be conducted working closing with the UA College of Public Health and the LN2 International Research Center at the Université de Sherbrooke. 

 The United States Southwest is being devastated by climate change (heat waves, drought, fires, flooding) while being subject to the local environmental urbanization and mining extraction pressures which are among the strongest globally. Iglobes analyzes these changes which give rise to new public health stakes against a context of sharp socio-economic, cross-cultural, and cross-border inequalities.  This research prong will look in the perception of emerging environmental risks (in particular, the exposure to high temperatures, dust pollution, and carrier-borne infectious diseases), the manner in which these risks are factored into public policies, and the consequences of these risks and their perception on the individual behaviors when confronting climate change. To do so, various model zones will be analyzed and compared: urban and suburban sites containing human populations and mining operations (Tucson, Green Valley), rural sites (e.g. Avra Valley), protected sites (e.g. Cienegas National Conservation Area and Saguaro National Park), and restored sites (Superfund Research Center sites). This prong will be developed working with the Nanotechnologies and Nanosystems (LN2) International Research Center at the Université de Sherbrooke to develop and roll out new-generation environmental sensors. The research, launched in 2002-2023, via an international mobility doctoral contract funded by MITI, will be developed more significantly as part of Défi Santé & Environnement (Health & Environment Challenge). 


Partners: Régis Ferrière (Iglobes), Bernard Cazelles (IBENS), Frédéric Keck (LAS), Céline Verchère (LN2), Heidi Brown (UA Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department), Kacey Ernst (UA Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department), Melissa Furlong (UA Community, Environment and Policy Department), Mona Aurora (UA Community, Environment and Policy Department), Chris Lim (UA Community, Environment and Policy Department), Rana Maier (UA Environmental Science Department), Ladd Keith (UA School of Landscape Architecture and Planning), Franck von Hippel (UA Community, Environment and Policy Department). 



The environmental crisis is also a social, moral, and political one. Collapsing of biodiversity, heat waves, melting of the polar ice caps, desertification, acidification of soils, and so on. Our knowledge of the radical transformation of environments predicts a catastrophic if not apocalyptic future. How do you live in a world that is predicted to die? How are human societies impacted by a lack of future? How do individuals feel, think, and act in a world that we think to be increasingly doomed? Now, although the end, or rather endings, are looming horizons, how are they anticipated and what to do they bring about in our societies?  This project intends to pair two complementary aspects. (1) An empirical approach to new practices and new discourses related to the growing probability of catastrophe, death if not extinction and to their political implications. (2) A socio-historic analysis of the rationality of finding a solution and its implications in the design of technological projects intended to save the world.


Partners: Sébastien Roux (CNRS), Arnaud Saint Martin (CNRS), Janelle Lamoreaux (UA School of Anthropology), Mathieu Hikaru Desan (University of Colorado, Department of Sociology), Jean Chamel (Université de Genève).