Two current UArizona courses


An online version of Environmental Biology (ECOL206) typically available as iCourse or Arizona Online once each summer and once each academic year. Spring 2021 is next scheduled offering. Environmental Biology satisfies the Tier 2 General Education Natural Sciences requirement. Course Catalog description: "Fundamentals of ecology and their relevance to human interconnectedness with natural ecosystems. Non-majors orientation."



NEW! Fall 2020 (pilot as HNRS395H for 3CR)

Biosphere 2 Science, from Wonder to Discovery

-will work as fully online if that is your preference-


Satisfies Upper Division Electives
Major or Program Requirement Satisfied
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) "For honors students in EEB, Biology and Bioinformatics this course can count toward an upper division general elective, Science and Society course, or EEB course."
Sustainable Built Environments (SBE) "We have Honors students and an internship requirement that we’re encouraging them to fulfill with a technical elective so this would work well for both of those."
Geography "Confirm with Dereka Rushbrook who directs undergrad programs - the course seems likely to work for our environmentally-oriented degrees as an upper division technical / methods elective. Looks like a good fit for an environmental science elective in the BA Environmental Studies. The BS GEOG is a little more proscribed, but there may be a way to fit it into one or two of the tracks, and we can let students know that."
School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) "Technical Elective"
Environmental Science We are confirming.
Geosciences We are checking.
Biosystems Engineering We are checking.


OVERVIEW: This new course focuses on the exciting research possible at Biosphere 2, science that informs our understanding of earth systems. Key themes include research practices, scale and control, models and inference, data science, systems thinking, microbiology drivers, climate change, and ecosystem services – including the provisioning of food and water for human societies.

This is a 300-level course of relevance for many disciplines on campus, including majors housed in five colleges. Participating faculty represent seven colleges at UArizona. Earth systems research – and implications for healthy, equitable human societies – is inherently interdisciplinary, making Biosphere 2 a campus-wide resource for inquiry, education, and understanding.

The course will begin broadly and then move through several examples and problem sets or mini-projects that include the key themes above. By the end of the course we hope you will understand and appreciate the natural systems that support life on Earth (Biosphere 1) and have a science-practice tool kit and way of thinking that will serve you in the future regardless of your subsequent education and career trajectory.

Biosphere 2 is one of many unique, world-class research resources at the University of Arizona managed under the umbrella of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Office of Research, Innovation, and Impact (RII). Connecting students to these research gems is a key motivation for developing this experiential course. UArizona is the only higher-education institution that combines all of these important distinctions: Public Land Grant Institution (1862 Morrill Act), Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), Research 1 University (Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity), and member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) which comprises 65 of the top research universities in the country. Future offerings of this course are planned as RNR/ECOL/ENVS/GEOG/UNIV 388 (3CR), with Honors Credit available via contract. The course will also be connected to the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR, formerly Institute of the Environment) and other campus initiatives focused on environmental education.

Flyer for Fall 2020 Course

Draft Brief Syllabus, posted summer 2020

Introductory Video: Biosphere2ScienceWonder2Discovery


Biosphere 2




See below for

Free, Online Biosphere 2 Science MOOC and for

Field Ecology Summer Presession Course


Biosphere 2 Science for the Future of Our Planet

A FREE Massive Open Online Course
Look for link on Coursera MOOC platform.
Instructors: Dr. Kevin Bonine and more than a DOZEN other scientist colleagues
Certificate of completion available, along with free annual membership to Biosphere 2
Course available anytime.

Take an incredible journey around Planet Earth and beyond in this free online course! From soils and plants, to oceans and rainforests, the Moon, Mars and much more, this is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in science. Gain novel insights and understanding as you learn from a team of UA Biosphere 2 scientists and connect with other learners from around the world.

  • Module 1: Biosphere 2, an Icon of Possibilities
    Dr. Joaquin Ruiz, UA VP for Innovation, Director of Biosphere 2, Dean of UA Science, Geoscientist
    John Adams, Deputy Director, UA Biosphere 2
  • Module 2: Climate Disruption
    Dr. Kevin Anchukaitis, Geography and UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
    Dr. David Frank, UA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research
  • Module 3: The Science of Water Availability
    Dr. Peter Troch, Director of Science at Biosphere 2; UA Hydrology
  • Module 4: Desert Plants, Climate, and Changing Landscapes
    Dr. Larry Venable, UA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Module 5: Rainforests in an Altered World
    Dr. Joost Van Haren, Biosphere 2 and UA Honors
    Dr. Scott Saleska, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Module 6: Sea Changes in our Marine Environment
    Dr. Julia Cole, U. of Michigan; UA Biosphere 2 Marine Research
  • Module 7: Soil Science - Foundations & Implications
    Dr. Rachel Gallery, UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment
    Dr. Katerina Dontsova, UA Soil Water & Environmental Science; Biosphere 2
  • Module 8: Feeding the Future
    Dr. Gene Giacomelli, UA Controlled Environment Agriculture Center
  • Module 9: Life and Resources in Space - -Should we go there?
    Dr. Chris Impey, Associate Dean UA College of Science; UA Astronomy


FIELD COURSE: Ecology & Natural History of the Sonoran Desert and Upper Gulf of California

Last offered 2019 during Summer Presession

Information and FAQs.

2019 Emphasis on Marine Ecology, Ocean Sciences, & Coral Resilience. Join Dr. Diane Thompson (UA Geosciences) and Dr. Kevin Bonine (UA Ecology & Evolutionary Biology), both of whom are faculty at Biosphere 2 as well.

ECOL 463/563, UA Catalog Listing: Hands-on, field-based exploration of the Sonoran Desert, its Sky Islands, and the Upper Gulf of California. Students will be introduced to the ecological, taxonomic, and natural-history diversity of the region.  To accomplish this ecological Sense of Place immersion, we will conduct several small independent research projects, visit with topical experts, foray into some of the most beautiful and iconic portions of the desert southwest, and read about the important, exciting, and interesting science to come out of the area. Conservation and cultural context will be important sub-themes of the course. Prior to enrollment, students are expected to have the equivalent of a college-sophomore/junior-level background in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students should be prepared for, and able to participate in, desert & mountain hiking, camping, and boating. Contact instructor for more course details.

This 3-week course will be available for 6 credits. Link to Information and FAQs.

  • Students will be staying (double occupancy) at Biosphere 2 and the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts & Oceans (CEDO) in Puerto Penasco, Sonora.
  • Students will also be camping atop Mt Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains and near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
  • Instead of the traditional classroom model, we will be in the field hiking, snorkelling, observing, collecting data, and generating summaries of our findings. Expect to be challenged. You will learn a lot about ecology, Sonoran Desert natural and cultural history, Gulf of California and ocean systems, coral resilience, and perhaps yourself.

Course Fee: $1250 - pays for on-course transportation, institutional visitor fees, lodging, and most meals plus

Presession Tuition  [all students pay in-state rates - see UA website] :

- Undergraduate 6 Credits, 2017 example: $2544 + $175.41 fee = $2719.41

- Graduate 6 Credits, 2017 example: $2844 + $175.41 fee = $3019.41


I have taught many courses at the University of Arizona. Most are sponsored by the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology. Others are offered through the UA Honors College, or in collaboration with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment or UA Biosphere 2.

UA Courses Taught 2002-2018

  • Introductory Biology II (ECOL 182R)
  • The Examined Life: Are Humans an Invasive Species (HNRS Colloquium 195I)
  • Environmental Biology (ECOL 206)
  • Sustainable Living (HNRS 295H)
  • Conservation Biology (ECOL 406R/506R)
  • Field Conservation Biology (ECOL 406L/506L)
  • Vertebrate Physiology (ECOL 437)
  • Ecology and Natural History of the Sonoran Desert and Upper Gulf of California (ECOL 463/563)
  • Sonoran Desert Discovery (ECOL 464/564)
  • Herpetology (ECOL 483/583)
  • Galapagos Marine Ecology (ECOL 496O/596O)

Other Relevant Courses & Workshops

  • Institute of Desert Ecology, Tucson Audubon Society, 2012
  • Amazon: Changing Identities on a Rainforest Frontier. Peruvian Faculty Field Institute for Experiential Education, National Collegiate Honors Council, 2009
  • Borders, Barriers, and Barrios. Arizona/Sonora Faculty Field Institute for Experiential Education, National Collegiate Honors Council, 2008