Karletta Chief

Professor & Extension Specialist - Department of Environmental Science
Director - Indigenous Resilience Center (I-Res)
Member - University of Arizona Native Faculty Association

Adaptation Programs/Projects

Dr. Chief's research focuses on how indigenous communities will be affected by climate change. She collaborates with an interdisciplinary group of scientists including hydrologists, system dynamic modelers, and social scientists to determine how hydrological models can be improved to identify and mitigate risks to these vulnerable populations.

Employment Highlights

  • Associate Professor, University of Arizona, Department of Environmental Science, Tucson, AZ, 2011−present
  • Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Desert Research Institute (DRI), Division of Hydrologic Sciences, 2007−2011
  • Hydrologist, Brown and Caldwell Consulting, Division of Water Resources, Tucson, Arizona, 2007
  • Graduate Research Assistant, Univ. of Arizona, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, 2003−2007
  • Graduate Assistant, Univ. of Arizona Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), 2002
  • Research Intern, Navajo Nation, Department of Water Resources, 2002
  • Environmental Engineering Intern, Environmental Protection Agency, Washington D.C., 1999

Selected Publications

  • Ornelas Van Horne, Y., K. Chief, P.H. Charley, M.G. Begay, N. Lothrop, M.L. Bell, R.A. Canales, N.I. Teufel-Shone, and P.I. Beamer. 2021. Impacts to Dine activities with the San Juan River after the Gold King Mine Spill. J. Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-021-00290-z
  • Bair, L.S., K.Chief, B.J. Colombi, T.S. Melis, and D.M. Perry, C. 2021. Tribes and water management in the Colorado River, US. In (J. Laufer, E.E. Marques, S. Athayde, A.C. Swanson, and A.D.A. Zagallo) Rivers, lands and cultures: learning from Tocantins social-ecological system, pgs 106-126. https://www.editorafi.org/19rios 
  • Chief, K. 2020. Water in the Native world. J Contemporary Water Research and Education 169: 1-7.
  • Bair, L.S., C.B. Yackulic, J.C. Schmidt, D.M. Perry, C. Kirchoff, K. Chief, and B.J. Colombi. 2019. Incorporating social-ecological considerations into basin-wide responses to climate change in the Colorado River Basin. Current opinion in environmental sustainability: 37:14-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2019.04.002
  • Chief, K., R. E. Emanuel, and O. Conroy-Ben. 2019. Indigenous symposium on water research, education, and engagement, EOS, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO114313. Published on 24 January 2019. https://eos.org/meeting-reports/indigenous-symposium-on-water-research-…
  • Chief, K. 2018. Emerging Voices of Tribal Perspectives in Water Resources. Journal of Contemporary Water Research and Education 163: 1-5.


  • Ph.D., Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona
  • M.S, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
  • B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University
Expertise Area
Fire Management
Human Dimensions of Climate Change
Natural Resources Management
Tribal Adaptation and Science Support
Water Conservation, Supply, and Demand