The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy (Udall Center), at the University of Arizona (UA), sponsors policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research and forums that link scholarship and education to decision-making. The Udall Foundation helps fund the Udall Center’s work on issues involving environmental policy, primarily in the Southwest and U.S.-Mexico border region, and Indigenous nations’ policy.
A portion of the funding that supports the Udall Center helps support the lab of Professor Laura López-Hoffman, an associate professor at the Udall Center and the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.
“I was trained as a conservation biologist and do a lot of good old-fashioned conservation biology,” López-Hoffman said. “In my lab we study mainly migratory species like Monarch butterflies, Mexican free-tailed bats, and Northern Pintails. Much of our work on migratory species seeks to show how these species help the sharing of ecosystem services between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.”
Ecosystem services are the benefits humans receive from ecosystems such as food, erosion control, water quantity and quality, and flood protection. The López-Hoffman lab uses the concept of ecosystem services as a means to evaluate the complex interactions between ecosystems and species, the services they provide, and human well-being.
“The other main theme of my work is to integrate tools from ecology and social sciences—ranging from law, economics, public policy and geography—to assess the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).” Ultimately, the objective of the lab’s research is to contribute to the development of policies that protect ecosystems while sustaining their contributions to human well-being.
“Almost everyone in the lab is involved in both ecological analysis and policy analysis,” López-Hoffman said. “We all work on data analysis, field work, scientific article preparation, and grant proposal writing—all skills the students will need as they further their careers. And we work as a team, which helps us all learn new insights from each other.”
View the slideshow above to meet some of the people currently involved in the López-Hoffman lab, learn about their research, and see the impact the lab has had on them.