Adriana Zuniga-Teran

Adriana Zuniga-Teran

Assistant Professor, Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center
Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment
zuniga photo
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Adriana Zuniga-Teran has a background in architecture and expertise in neighborhood design and environmental sciences in arid lands. She studies human-landscape interactions in urban environments and works with stakeholders and community partners. Throughout her career, Dr. Zuniga has sustained an active research and publication program. Her research focuses on urban greenspace, studying at it from the perspectives of (i) urban design and public health, (ii) water security, and (iii) urban resilience, but centering around environmental justice. Her contribution to the literature is at the intersection of green infrastructure and environmental justice and includes both theoretical contributions and empirical research that engages communities around greening on the ground.  Through her research, she leads interdisciplinary teams and train students.

Her scholarly work is demonstrated in 50+ publications and she has presented her research in 70+ public presentations in many countries. Her work has attracted the attention of the media and has been featured in 20+ media outlets. She has received 15+ awards/distinctions, including the 2018 Best Paper Award for Water International.

Adriana is originally from Monterrey, Mexico. She did her undergraduate studies on architecture at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) in Monterrey. She worked as an architectural designer in Mexico for several years. She holds two advanced degrees from the University of Arizona: a master of architecture degree with a concentration in design and energy conservation, and a doctoral degree in arid lands resource sciences with a minor in global change.

Areas of expertise and research interests:

  • Water security in the built environment
  • Water policy and governance
  • Arid lands
  • Environmental justice
  • Green infrastructure and urban resilience
  • Walkability, physical activity and wellbeing
  • Sustainable built environments
  • Latin American cities

Current research projects:

2021 – 2022      
Principal Investigator. “Community engagement for a river restoration project to enhance resilience in Nogales, Arizona”. Arizona Institutes for Resilience – TRIF/WEES Initiative. Amount $59.598. November 1, 2021 – October 31, 2022.

Principal Investigator. “Evaluating the impacts of the Corralitos Landfill on the quality of life of the residents of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County.” Invited proposal. North American Development Bank. UA Account 4222810. Amount $84,152.55. 05/2021-05/2022.

Co-Principal Investigator. “Green Infrastructure in Hot Dry Climates: An Educational Endeavor in Urban Spaces Facing Vulnerability”. 100,000 Strong in the Americas (100K) Innovation Fund at Partner of the Americas and the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Proposal led and submitted by partners at the Universidad de Sonora. Amount $25,000. Sept. 2021- May, 2022.

2020 – present 

Co-Principal Investigator. Project titled “Building capacity to assess watershed health, water quality, and the anticipated impacts of the Rosemont Mine in Southern Arizona” funded by UMI-iGlobes. Award amount $20,000. 02/28/2020-06/30/2022.

International Water Security Network. This is a project funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and led by scientists from the University of the West of England and in collaboration with Monash South Africa University. The UA team studies transboundary water security in the arid Americas.

AQUASEC Center of Excellence for Water Security. Under the AQUASEC umbrella, the Aguascapes project brings together scientists from the arid Americas to work together in water security challenges. Partners include scientists from Mexico, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina.

State of the Health of the Cienega watershed. This is a participatory effort to measure the state of the health of the Cienega Watershed, in which a set of 20 cross-jurisdictional indicators were selected. Her role in this project is to meet with stakeholders and collect readably-available data, analyze it when necessary, and present it in a way that communicates well to the general public. This is a baseline effort that is intended to continue over time in order to do long-term monitoring and manage the watershed in an adaptive way.

Tucson Verde para Todos. This project is funded by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environmental and Social Justice. This study is aimed to engage low-income communities in Tucson in the design and development of green infrastructure. Seeking the active participation of the community in a pilot project is expected to serve as a model for other neighborhoods to adopt green infrastructure, and this way, reduce temperatures and floods while improving wellness, neighborhood aesthetics, and sense of community.

List of current courses:

  • SBE-221 History of the Built Environment I (fall)
  • SBE-222 History of the Built Environment II (spring)

Selected peer-reviewed publications:


2021        Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Fisher, L.A., Meixner, T., Le Tourneau, F-M., Postillion, F. (Accepted). Stakeholder Participation, Indicators, Assessment, and Decision Making: Applying Adaptive Management at the Watershed Scale. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.

2021        Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Tortajada, C. (Accepted). Water demand management policies and their effects on water usage: The case of Tucson, Arizona. Water Utility Journal.

2021        De Vito, L., Staddon, C., Ward, S., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Gerlak, A. Aligning green infrastructure to sustainable development: Geographical contributions to an ongoing debate. Area.

2021        Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Gerlak, A.K., Elder, A., Tam, A. The unjust distribution of urban green infrastructure is just the tip of the iceberg: A systematic review of place-based studies. Environmental Science and Policy, Vol. 126. Pp. 234-245.

2021        Garfin, G., Falk, D., O’Connor, C., Jacobs, K., Sagarin, R., Haverland, A., Haworth, A., Baglee, A. Weiss, J., Overpeck, J., Zuniga-Teran, A. A new mission: mainstreaming climate adaptation in the US Department of Defense. Climate Services. Vol. 22.

2021        Gerlak, A.K., Elder, A., Sanderford, A., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Pavao-Zuckerman, M. Agency and Governance in Green Infrastructure Policy Adoption and ChangeJournal of Environmental Policy and Planning.

2021        Gerlak, A.K., Elder, A., Thomure, T., Shipek, C., Zuniga-Teran, A., Pavao-Zuckerman, M., Gupta, N., Mastler, M., Berger, L., Henry, A.D., Yang, B., Murrieta-Saldivar, J., Meixner, T. Green infrastructure: Lessons in governance and collaboration from Tucson. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, Vol. 63, issue 3.

2020        Crosson, C.; Achilli, A.; Zuniga-Teran, A.; Mack, E.; Albrecht, T.; Shrestha, P.; Boccelli, D.; Cath, T.; Daigger, G.; Duan, J.; Lansey, K.; Meixner, T.; Pincetl, S.; Scott, C. A. Net Zero Urban Water from Concept to Applications: Integrating Natural, Built and Social Systems for Responsive and Adaptive Solutions. ACS Environmental Science & Technology, Water.

2020        Scott, C.A., Zilio, M.I., Perillo, G.M.E., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Harmon, T. Escobar Jaramillo, J., Diaz Caravantes, R., Meza, F., Martin, F., Ribero Neto, A., Piccolo, M.C., Rusak, J., Varady, R.G., Pineda, N., Hoyos, N., Mussetta, P., Velez, M.I., Montenegro, S., Reid, B. Do ecosystem insecurity and social inequity lead to failure of water security? A synthesis of CRNH projects funded by the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research. Special issue in Environmental Development.

2020        Lutz-Ley, A.N., Scott, C.A., Wilder, M., Ocampo-Melgar, A., Lara-Valencia, F., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Buechler, S., Diaz-Caravantes, R., Varady, R., Ribeiro Neto, A., Pineda Pablos, N., & Martin, F. Dialogic science-policy networks for water security governance in the arid Americas. Environmental Development Special issue organized by the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research.

2020        Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Mussetta, P. Lutz-Ley, A.N., Diaz-Caravantes, R.E., Gerlak, A.K. Analyzing water policy impacts on vulnerability: Cases across the rural-urban continuum in the arid Americas. Environmental Development. Special issue organized by the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research.

2020        Gerlak, A.K., and Zuniga-Teran, A.A. Addressing injustice in green infrastructure through socio-ecological practice: What is the role of university-community partnerships? Socio-Ecological Practice Research, 2: 149-159.

2020        Varady, R.G., Gerlak, A.K., Mayer, B.M., Albrecht, T., Lemos, M.C., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Wilder, M.O., Mukherjee, A., Ernst, K.C. The exigencies of transboundary water security: Insights on community resilience. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol. 44. Pp.74-84. Special Issue: Resilience and Complexity: Frameworks and Models to Capture Social-Ecological Interactions.

2020        Wilder, M., Varady, R.G., Gerlak, A.K., Mumme, S., Flessa, K., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Scott, C., Pineda Pablos, N., Megdal, S. Hydrodiplomacy and adaptive governance at the U.S.-Mexico border: 75 years of tradition innovation in transboundary water management. Environmental Science and Policy, 112: 189-202.

2020        Zuniga-Teran, A. A., Gerlak, A.K., Mayer, B., Evans, T.P. and Lansey, K.E. Urban resilience and green infrastructure systems: Towards a multidimensional evaluation. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability – Resilience and Complexity: Frameworks and Models to Capture Social-Ecological Interactions, edited by Christopher Scott, and François-Michel Le Tourneau. Vol. 4. Pp. 42-47.

2020        Blanchon, D., Keck, F., Tonnelat, S., Le Tourneau, F-M., and Zuniga-Teran, A. Sentinel Territories: A new concept to look at environmental change. Metropolitics.

2020        Diaz-Caravantes, R.E., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Martin, F., Bernabeu, M.M., Scott, C.A., Stoker, P. Urban water security: A comparative study of cities in the arid Americas. Environment and Urbanization, 3(1): 275-294.

2019  Zuniga-Teran, A.A.; Stoker, P.; Gimblett, R.H.; Orr, B.J.; Marsh, S.E.; Guertin, D.P.; Chalfoun, N.V. Exploring the influence of neighborhood walkability on the frequency of use of greenspace. Landscape and Urban Planning, 190. 

2019  Zuniga-Teran, A.A. and Gerlak, A.K. A multidisciplinary approach to analyzing questions of justice issues in urban greenspace. Sustainability, 11, 3055.

2019  Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Staddon C., De Vito, L. Gerlak, A.K., Ward, S., Schoeman, Y., Hart, A., Booth, G.Challenges for mainstreaming green infrastructure in built environment professions. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Staddon C., De Vito, L. Gerlak, A.K., Ward, S., Schoeman, Y., Hart, A., Booth, G. (forthcoming). Challenges for mainstreaming green infrastructure in built environment professions. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management.

Scott, C.A., Albrecht, T., Routson de Grenade, R., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Varady, R.G., Thapa, B. (2018). Water security and the pursuit of food, energy, and earth system resilience. Water International.

Albrecht, T., Varady, R.G., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., De Grenade R., Lutz-Ley A., Martin, F., Megdal, S.B., Meza, F., Ocampo-Melgar, D., Pineda, N., Rojas, F., Taboada, R., Willems, B. (2018). Unraveling transboundary water security in the arid Americas. Water International.

Staddon, C., Ward, S., De Vito, L., Zuniga-Teran, A., Gerlak, A., Schoeman, Y., Hart, A., Booth, G. (2018). Contributions of green infrastructure to enhancing urban resilience. Environment, Systems and Decisions.

Gerlak, A.K.; House-Peters, L.; Varady. R.G.; Albrecht, T.; Zuniga-Teran, A.A.; Cook, C.; Routson de Grenade, R.; Scott, C.A. (2018). Water security: A critical review of place-based studies. Environmental Science and Policy, 82. 79-89.

Petersen-Perlman, J.D., Megdal, S.B., Gerlak, A.K. Wireman, M., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Varady, R.G. (2018). Issues impacting groundwater quality governance and management in the United States. Water 10(6), 735;

Albrecht, T., Varady, R.G., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Gerlak, A.K., Staddon, C. (2017). Governing a shared hidden resource: A review of governance mechanisms for transboundary groundwater security. Water Security, Vol. 2 Pp. 43-56.

Zuniga-Teran, A.A. ; Orr, B.J.; Gimblett, R.H.; Chalfoun, N.V.; Guertin, D.P.; Marsh, S.E. (2017). Neighborhood design, physical activity, and wellbeing: Applying the Walkability Model. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14,76: doi:10.3390/ijerph14010076.

Zuniga-Teran, A.A. ; Orr, B.J.; Gimblett, R.H.; Chalfoun, N.V.; Marsh, S.E.; Guertin, D.P.; Going, S.B. (2017). Designing healthy communities: Testing the walkability model. Frontiers of Architectural Research. Vol. 6, No. 1. Pp. 63-73.

Varady R.G., Zuniga-Teran, A.A.; Garfin, G.M.; Martin, F.; Vicuña, S. (2016). Adaptive management and water security in global context: Definitions, concepts, and examples. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability special issue “Environmental Change and Assessment” edited by M. Wilder, G. Garfin, and R. Merideth. Vol. 21. Pp. 70-71.

Zuniga-Teran, A.A; Orr, B.J.; Gimblett, R.H.; Going, S.B.; Chalfoun, N.V.; Guertin, D.P.; Marsh, S.E. (2016). Designing healthy communities: A walkability analysis on LEED-ND. Frontiers in Architectural Research. 

Varady, R.G.; Zuniga-Teran, A.A.; Gerlak, A.K.; Megdal, S.B. (2016). Modes and approaches of groundwater governance: A survey of lessons learned from selected cases across the globe. In special issue “Water Governance, Stakeholder Engagement, and Sustainable Water Resources management,” ed. By S. Megdal, S. Eden, and E. Shamir. Water, 417 (24pp), DOI: 10.3390/w8100417. Online:

Wilder, M., Aguilar Barajas, I., Pineda Pablos, N., Varady, R., Megdal, S., McEvoy, J., Merideth, R., Zuniga-Teran, A.,Scott, C. (2016). Desalination and water security in the US-Mexico border region: Assessing the social, environmental, and political impacts. Water International, 41:5, 756-775, DOI: 10.1080/02508060.2016.1166416.


  • Ph.D 2015 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Arid Lands Resource Sciences and minor in Global Change.
  • M.S. 2010 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. Architecture with a concentration in Design and Energy Conservation.
  • B.A. 1989 Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM) - Monterrey, Mexico. Architecture.