Urban Ecology Research Lab

Diane Pataki

Diane E. Pataki

Dept. of Biology
University of Utah
257 S 1400 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84112

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Prof. Diane Pataki is an ecologist who studies the role of vegetation in the functioning of cities.  She is a Professor in the Dept. of Biology at the University of Utah and holds adjunct appointments in the Dept. of City & Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah and the Ecology Center and Dept. of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning at Utah State University.  She also serves as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs for the University of  Utah 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 Nicholas School of the Environment.

Pataki’s work has spanned the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, the use of stable isotopes to study coupled human-natural processes related to urban CO2 emissions, and the impacts of urban vegetation on local climate, pollution, and hydrology.  She was the lead PI on an NSF Biocomplexity grant that focused on understanding CO2 emissions in Salt Lake City from 2002-2007.  She was also funded by NASA from 1999-2003 to coordinate the Ecosystem Physiology program of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme’s Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystem (IGBP-GCTE) core project.  In 2008 she received the AGU Macelwane Medal for her contributions to geoscience in these areas.  She followed this work with several NSF, EPA, and USDA funded projects that studied urban land-atmosphere interactions in Los Angeles while she taught at the University of California.

In Utah, Pataki was a co-PI on an NSF EPSCoR Track I award focused on water sustainability in the Wasatch Front region (where Salt Lake City is located).  She was also the lead PI on an NSF Water Sustainability and Climate grant, a co-PI on the Los Angeles NSF ULTRA-EX project on urban forest ecosystem services, and a co-PI on an NSF macrosystems project studying the ecological homogenization of urban America.  Her work is focused on improving our mechanistic understanding of the interactions between vegetation, the physical environment, and urban planning, forestry, and design.


2016-            Associate Dean of Student Affairs, College of Science, University of Utah
2015-            Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah
2015-            Adjunct Professor, Dept. of City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah
2012-            Associate Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah
2012-            Adjunct Associate Professor, Dept. of City & Metropolitan Planning, University of Utah
2012-            Adjunct Associate Professor, Ecology Center and Dept. of Landscape Architecture & Environmental                             Planning, Utah State University
2010-2012    Director, Center for Environmental Biology, University of California, Irvine
2010-2011    Vice Chair for Undergraduate Programs, Dept. of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
2007-2012    Associate Professor, Dept. of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
2007-2012    Associate Professor, Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine
2004-2007    Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine
2000-2004    Research Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Utah
1999-2003    IGBP-GCTE Focus 1 Program Officer, University of Utah
1998-1999    Post-doctoral Research Associate, Desert Research Institute, Univ. of Nevada


1998            Ph.D. Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC
1995            M.S. School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC
1993            B.A. Barnard College, Columbia University, New York, NY

Academic Service and Distinctions

2015-            Chief Specialty Editor, Urban Ecology section, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
2015-2016    Leopold Leadership Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute of the Environment
2014-2015    Program Director, Ecosystem Science Cluster, Division of Environmental
2014-            Program Director, Ecosystem Science Cluster, NSF Division of Environmental Biology
2013-2015    College of Science Council, University of Utah
2012-            Scientific Advisory Panel, Environmental Defense Fund methane leakage project
2012-            NEON Urban Ecology Working Group
2012-            Water Science Software Institute Steering Committee
2012-2013    Sustained Land Imaging Program committee, National Research Council
2011-            Board of Scientific Counselors, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
2011              Director, Steele Burnand Anza Borrego Desert Research Center
2010-2013    Science Committee, Ecological Society of America
2009-2010    Energy Sustainability subcommittee, U.S. Dept. of Energy
2009-2011    Director, Anza Borrego Field Station Initiative, UC Irvine
2009-2011    Steering Committee, Environment Institute, UC Irvine
2008              James B. Macelwane Medalist, American Geophysical Union
2008-            Fellow, American Geophysical Union
2008-2011    Carbon Cycle Scientific Steering Group, U.S. Climate Change Science Program
2008-2009    User working group, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC)
2008-2011    University of California Natural Reserve Systemwide Committee
2007-2009    Membership Committee, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
2006-2010    Ecohydrology Executive Committee, American Geophysical Union
2007              Lead Author, U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.2, State of the Carbon Cycle Report, Chapter 14: Human Settlements
2005-2010    Subject Editor, Global Change Biology journal
2004-2011    Board of Advisors to the Editor, New Phytologist journal
2000-2010    Steering Committee, Biosphere-Atmosphere Stable Isotope Network (BASIN)
2000-2005    Steering Committee, Terrestrial Ecosystem Responses to Atmospheric and Climatic Change (TERACC)
1996              NASA Earth Science Summer School fellowship
1993              Lillian Berle Dare Award for graduate study in the natural sciences
1993              Rice Prize in geography


Courses Taught at the University of Utah:
BIOL 5440/CMP 6610 Urban Ecology (upper division undergraduate/graduate)
BIOL 7406 Speakerfest (graduate)

Courses Taught at UC Irvine:
ESS 226 Land surface processes (graduate)
ESS 218 Terrestrial Ecology (graduate)
ESS 60B Local and Regional Environmental Issues (undergraduate lower division)
BIO E127/ESS 168/268 Physiological Plant Ecology (undergraduate upper division/graduate)
BIO 2B The Ecology of Your Backyard (freshman seminar)
BIO 2B Water in the West (freshman seminar)
BIO 2B Trees of the World (freshman seminar)
US 13A Environmental Studies (undergraduate lower division)


"MRI: Acquisition of an Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer for Tracing Human-Environment Interactions," NSF $629,942, 8/15/13-8/14/16, Bowen, Bowling, Pataki, Ehleringer, Cerling

“WSC-Category 3: Collaborative: The role of local water resources in the water sustainability of Los Angeles,” NSF, Univ of Utah portion $459,140, 7/1/12-6/30/16, Pataki, Pincetl, Hogue

“iUtah-innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability”, NSF EPSCoR, $20,000,000, 7/1/12-6/31/17, Crowl, Baker, Ehleringer, Jackson-Smith, Pataki

“Mobile greenhouse gas flux analyzer for unmanned aerial vehicles,” NASA SBIR, Univ of Utah subcontract $75,000, 1/1/13-12/31/13, primary awardee Los Gatos Research, Inc.

“Collaborative research: Mechanisms for the decline of leaf hydraulic conductance with dehydration, and plant- and environment-level impacts dehydration, and plant- and environment-level impacts,” NSF IOS, UCI portion $198,849, 2/1/12-1/31/15, Sack, Pataki, Buckley

“Collaborative research: Ecological homogenization of urban America,” NSF-Macrosystems, UCI portion $222,634, 6/30/11-7/1/14, Groffman, Grove, Hobbie, Cavender-Bares, Nelson, Polsky, Hall, Larson, Heffernan, Ogden, Neill, Pataki, Chowdhury

“Collaborative Research: Toward a biogeography of urban forests,” NSF-DEB, $691,498, 9/1/09-8/31/12, Pataki, Jenerette, Pincetl, Gillespie

“Dynamics of urban ecosystem services and their relationship to ecohydrology: Exploratory study for a Los Angeles Urban Long-term Research Site (LA-ULTRA)”, NSF-ULTRA, $299,429, 1/1/10-12/31/11, Pincetl, Boone, Hogue, McFadden, Pataki

“Reductions in urban outdoor water use as an adaptation to rising temperatures and declining water supplies in southern California,” California Energy Commission PIER, $199,737, 4/1/10 – 3/31/12, Pataki, Hogue, Pincetl

“Forest-Atmosphere Carbon Transfer and Storage (FACTS-1)”, U.S. Dept. of Energy, UCI subcontract $66,068, 12/1/09-11/30/12, Oren

“Creating sustainability indicators to assess the physical, social, and economic values of greening cities,” EPA-STAR, $369,577, 5/07-8/10, Saphores and Pataki, UCI, Pincetl and Saatchi, UCLA
“Distinguishing between greenhouse gas emissions from cropland, animal operations, and urban land cover with isotopic tracers,” USDA Air Quality, $499,276, 1/1/07 – 12/31/10, Pataki, Tyler, Trumbore

“Collaborative Research: A study in the dynamics of human behavior in institutional innovation and learning,” NSF-HSD, $748,712, 9/1/06 – 10/31/10, Pincetl and Saatchi, UCLA, Pataki and Saphores, UCI

“The spatial distribution of isotopic tracers in urban organic matter: understanding multiple and confounding effects of human activities on urban vegetation” NSF Geography, $299,914, 8/06 – 1/10, Pataki

“Sources of dissolved nitrogen to urban watersheds in Orange County, California,” UCI CORCLR, $24,876, 7/1/07-6/30/06, Pataki and Cooper

“Acquisition of capability for single-compound AMS measurement of organic matter at the W.M. Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility at UC Irvine” NSF EAR, $411,163, Druffel, Pataki, Southon, Treseder, Trumbore, 11/05 – 10/08
“Improving greenhouse gas emissions inventories in California with atmospheric measurements,” UC Energy Institute, $35,000, 7/06 – 6/07, Pataki

“Controls on C and N cycling in a Southern California urban turfgrass ecosystem” Kearney Foundation of Soil Science, $39,951, 1/06 – 12/06, Pataki

“Plant water use in Owens Valley, CA: Understanding the influence of climate and depth to groundwater.” UC Center for Water Resources, $57,882, Pataki, 7/05 – 6/07

Research Experience for Undergraduates, NSF cross-directorate, $30,000, Forster, Pataki, Emmi, Klewicki and Peterson, 1/04-2/07

“Urban trace-gas emissions study (UTES): Interactions between canopy processes, anthropogenic emissions, and social institutions in the Salt Lake Valley, Utah.” NSF-biocomplexity, $1,498,173, Pataki, Emmi, Forster, Klewicki, Peterson, 9/02-2/07

“Is carbon sequestration a feasible management goal for urban soils? Exploratory research in the Los Angeles Basin”  Newkirk Center for Science and Society, $12,500, Pataki and Trumbore, 9/05 – 9/06

Workshop: “Carbon respiration from terrestrial ecosystems – reducing uncertainties in the role played by respiration in the global carbon cycle.” NSF-CaRTE, $72,277, Trumbore, 9/02-8/04

“Support of the GCTE Focus 1 Office (Ecosystem Processes in Biogeochemical Cycles)”, NASA, $170,660, Ehleringer and Pataki, 2/02-12/03

Workshop: “Tracing carbon in elevated CO2 experiments: A workshop on isotopic analyses of where the carbon is going.” DOE $19,774, Ellsworth and Pataki, 1/01-1/02

A publication list is available here