Andrea K. Gerlak

Director, Udall Center Professor, School of Geography and Development

Andrea K. Gerlak

Director, Udall Center Professor, School of Geography and Development

Andrea K. Gerlak is a research professor at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona, and professor in the School of Geography and Development.

Her research focuses on institutions for governing water resources. She examines cooperation and conflict around water, including questions of institutional change and adaptation to climate change in rivers basins, and human rights and equity issues in water governance.

Gerlak is a senior research fellow with the Earth System Governance Project, an international social science research alliance exploring political solutions and novel, effective governance mechanisms to address global environmental challenges. She recently served as a Lead Author on the Earth Systems Governance Science and Implementation Plan, which sets out the agenda for the next decade of earth system governance research.

She serves as a co-editor for the  Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, an international journal published by Taylor and Francis providing a forum for the critical analysis of environmental policy and planning. She also is a member of the editorial board for Anthropocene,  a journal addressing the nature, scale, and extent of the influence that people have on Earth.

Gerlak has over ten years’ experience building, administering, and teaching in interdisciplinary environmental studies programs. She has been a faculty member at Guilford College and Columbia University. For nearly a decade, she served as the director of academic development with the International Studies Association where she facilitated academic development across ISA’s academic sections, including developing programs to foster junior scholar engagement and cross-disciplinarity in international studies.


Areas of expertise and research interests 

Water governance and policy  
Global environmental policy  
Transboundary waters  
Groundwater management  
Resilience, adaptation, social-ecological systems  
Western U.S., U.S., Latin America, SE Asia, Europe


Key projects and programs 

Tucson verde para todos: Engaging communities for an equitable, connected and greener Tucson

Arizona Business Resilience Initiative

Advancing Good Practices in Building Interdisciplinarity: Moving Towards User-Oriented Science

From Tucson to Uruguay and Back: Securities and Inequalities in Water Infrastructure

Coupled Networks in Urbanized Landscapes: Linking Ecosystem Services and Governance for Water Sustainability

International Research Applications Program

Groundwater Governance and Management

Actionable Science in Transboundary Rivers



EVS 260: Environmental Studies: Ideas and Institutions 

GEOG 302: Introduction to Sustainable Development 

GEOG 696R: International Environmental Policy and Governance


Udall Center News and blog posts

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2021. Pima County to increase water availability with stormwater. Interviewed by KVOA Tucson News.  September 13, 2021.

Udall Center News.  2020. Udall Center joins Universities Partnership for Water Cooperation and Diplomacy. Udall Center news post, January 28, 2020.

UA News. 2019. Agrivoltaics Proves Mutually Beneficial Across Food, Water, Energy Nexus. September 2, 2019. At

Udall Center News. 2019. The Legacy of UA Researchers Shaping the Direction of Earth System Governance Research. Udall Center news post, March 4.

Udall Center News. 2018. Implementation of Green Infrastructure at Star Academic High School. December 10.

Udall Center News. 2018. Udall Center project with Star Academic High School featured in High Country News. December 7.

Udall Center News. 2018. Researchers Explore the Role of Science in Informing Energy Development in the Western U.S. August 31. At

Udall Center News. 2018. Experts from around the world meet to tackle challenges of science and policy making in transboundary river basins. July 16.

Udall Center News. 2018.UA Collaboration with TEP Creates Framework for Future Industry Partnerships. May 2.

Udall Center News. 2018. Opportunities for UA student engagement: UA team receives funding to address the environmental injustice around green infrastructure at local high school in Tucson, Arizona. April 4.

Udall Center blog post. 2018. Zuniga, Adriana and Andrea K. Gerlak. UA team receives funding to address the environmental injustice around green infrastructure at local high school in Tucson, Arizona. March 28.

Udall Center blog post. 2017 Gerlak, Andrea K. and Adriana Zuniga-Teran. Sharing our research on green infrastructure and community engagement with communities in Ayacucho, Peru. October 4.

Udall Center News. 2017. Andrea Gerlak leads study of Global Framework for Climate Services in Africa. July 18.

International Water Security Network blog post. 2017. Zuniga-Teran, Adriana and Andrea K. Gerlak. Enhancing resilience in cities: from grey to green infrastructure. May 4.

Udall Center blog post. 2017 Zuniga-Teran, Adriana and Andrea K. Gerlak. Engaging low-income communities in the development of a greenway in Tucson, Arizona. February 27.

Published Op-eds
Gerlak, Andrea K. 2017. Rural America left out of Trump's water infrastructure plan. The Hill, June 13, 2017.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Helen Ingram. 2017. World Water Day — an agenda of radical change for America’s waters.The Hill, March 22, 2017.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2016. Potential for agreement? Reinvesting in America’s water infrastructure. The Hill, November 30, 2016.

Published op-eds

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Jeanne Neinaber Clarke. 2021. Tucson Opinion: With south-side PFAS water contamination, history repeats itself. Arizona Daily Star, July 14, 2021.

Varady, Robert G., Andrea K. Gerlak, and Stephen P. Mumme. 2021. ‘Megadrought’ along border strains US-Mexico water relations. The Conversation, July 1, 2021.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2020.  Heat waves to heighten energy and water insecurity during COVID-19The Hill. August 10, 2020.

Selected publications

De Vito, Laura, Chad Staddon, Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, Yolandi Schoeman, Aimee Hart, and Giles Booth. 2021. Aligning green infrastructure to sustainable development: A geographical contribution to an ongoing debate. Area 00: 1–10.  

Gerlak, Andrea K., Surabhi Karambelkar, and Daniel B. Ferguson. 2021. Knowledge governance and learning: Examining challenges and opportunities in the Colorado River basin. Environmental Science & Policy 125: 219-230.

Rivera-Torres, Mariana, Andrea K. Gerlak, Katharine L. Jacobs. 2021. Lesson learning in the Colorado River Basin. Water International.

Rivera-Torres, Mariana and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2021. Evolving together: transboundary water governance in the Colorado River Basin. International Environmental Agreements.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Alison Elder, Mitch Pavao-Zuckerman, Adriana Zuniga-Teran, and Andrew R. Sanderford (2021): Agency and governance in green infrastructure policy adoption and change.  Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning.

Saguier, Marcelo, Andrea K. Gerlak, Pilar Carolina Villar, Claudio Baigún, Virginia Venturini, Albina Lara, and Marco Aurelio dos Santos. 2020. Interdisciplinary research networks and science-policy-society interactions in the Uruguay River. Environmental Development.

Milman, Anita, Andrea K. Gerlak, Tamee Albrecht, Mark Colosimo, Ken Conca, Anoulak Kittikhoun, Péter Kovács, Richard Moy, Susanne Schmeier, Kelsey Wentling, William Werick, Ivan Zavadsky, Jim Ziegler. 2020. Addressing knowledge gaps for transboundary environmental governance. Global Environmental Change 64: 102162.

Wilder, Margaret O., Robert G. Varady, Andrea K. Gerlak, Stephen P. Mumme, Karl W. Flessa, Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, Christopher A. Scott, Nicolos Pineda Pablos, and Sharon B. Megdal. 2020. Hydrodiplomacy and adaptive governance at the U.S.-Mexico border: 75 years of tradition and innovation in transboundary water management. Environmental Science and Policy 112: 189–202.

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

Gerlak, Andrea K., Tanya Heikkila and Jens Newig. 2020. Learning in environmental governance: opportunities for translating theory to practice. Journal of Environmental

Policy & Planning. DOI: 10.1080/1523908X.2020.1776100

Milman, Anita and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2020.  International river basin organizations, science, and hydrodiplomacy. Environmental Science & Policy 107: 137–149.

Karambelkar, Surabhi and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2020. Collaborative Governance and Stakeholder Participation in the Colorado River Basin: An Examination of Patterns of Inclusion and Exclusion.  Natural Resources Journal 60(1): 1-45.

Elder, Alison D. and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2019. Interrogating rainwater harvesting as Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Urbanism. Geoforum 104: 46-51.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Tanya Heikkila. 2019. Tackling key challenges around learning in environmental governance. Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning 21(3): 205-212.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Christina Greene.  2019. Interrogating vulnerability in the Global Framework for Climate Services.  Climatic Change 157(1): 99-114.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Madeline Baer, and Paula Lopes. 2018. Taking Stock of the Human Right to Water. International Journal of Water Governance 6: 108-134. 

Gerlak, Andrea K., Lily House-Peters, Robert G. Varady, Tamee Albrecht, Adriana Zúñiga-Terán, Rafael Routson de Grenade, Christina Cook, and Christopher A. Scott. 2018. Water security: A review of place-based research. Environmental Science and Policy 82: 79–89.

Zuniga-Teran, Adriana, Chad Staddon, Laura De Vito, Andrea K. Gerlak, Sarah Ward, Yolandi Schoeman, Aimee Hart, and Giles Booth. 2019. Challenges for mainstreaming green infrastructure in built environment professions. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management (forthcoming).

Mahon, Roché, Christina Greene, Shelly-Ann Cox, Zack Guido, Andrea K. Gerlak, Jodi-Ann Petrie, Adrian Trotman, Diana Liverman, Cédric J. Van Meerbeeck, Wazita Scott, and David Farrell. 2019. Fit for purpose? Transforming National Meteorological and Hydrological Services into National Climate Service Centers. Climate Services 13: 14-23.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Madeline Baer, and Paula Lopes. 2018. Taking Stock of the Human Right to Water. International Journal of Water Governance 6(2018): 108-134.

Staddon, Chad, Sarah Ward, Laura De Vito, Adriana Zuniga‑Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, Yolandi Schoeman, Aimee Hart, and Giles Booth. 2018. Contributions of green infrastructure to enhancing urban resilience. Environment Systems and Decisions 38(3): 330–338.

Bolognesi, Thomas, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Gregory Giuliani. 2018. Explaining and Measuring Social-Ecological Pathways: The Case of Global Changes and Water Security. Sustainability 10: 4378.

Petersen-Perlman, Jacob D., Sharon B. Megdal, Andrea K. Gerlak, Mike Wireman, Adriana A Zuniga-Teran, and Robert G. Varady. 2018. Critical issues Affecting groundwater quality governance and management in the United States. Water 10(6): 735.

Heikkila, Tanya and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2018. Working on Learning: How the Institutional Rules of Environmental Governance Matter. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2018.1473244.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Lily House-Peters, Robert G. Varady, Tamee Albrecht, Adriana Zúñiga-Terán, Rafael Routson de Grenade, Christina Cook, and Christopher A. Scott. 2018. Water security: A review of place-based research. Environmental Science and Policy 82: 79–89.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Tanya Heikkila, Sharon L. Smolinski, Dave Huitema, Derek Armitage. 2017. Learning our way out of environmental policy problems: a review of the scholarship. Policy Sciences (), 1-37. DOI: 10.1007/s11077-017-9278-0

Megdal, Sharon B., Andrea K. Gerlak, Ling-Yee Huang, Nathaniel Delano, Robert G. Varady, and Jacob D. Petersen-Perlman. 2017. Innovative Approaches to Collaborative Groundwater Governance in the United States: Case Studies from Three High-growth Regions in the Sun Belt. Environmental Management. DOI: 10.1007/s00267-017-0830-7

Guido Zack, Val Rountree, Christina Greene, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Adrian Trotman. 2016. Connecting Climate Information Producers and Users: Boundary Organization, Knowledge Networks, and Information Brokers at Caribbean Climate Outlook Forums. Weather, Climate, and Society 8(3): 285-298. DOI: 10.1175/WCAS-D-15-0076.1

Mukhtarov, Farhad, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Robin Pierce. 2016. Away from Fossil-Fuels and Toward a Bioeconomy: Knowledge Versatility for Public Policy? Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 0(0) 1–19. DOI: 10.1177/0263774X16676273

Kinoshita, Alicia M., Anne Chin, Gregory L. Simon, Christy Briles, Terri S. Hogue, Alison P. O’Dowd, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Alejandra Uribe Albornoz. 2016. Wildfire, water, and society: Toward integrative research in the “Anthropocene”. Anthropocene 16: 16-27. DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2016.09.001

de Grenade Rafael, Lily House Peters, Chris A. Scott, Bhutan Thapa, Megan Mills-Novoa, Andrea K. Gerlak, and K. Verbist. 2016. The nexus: reconsidering environmental security and adaptive capacity. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 21: 15-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2016.10.009

Varady, Robert G., Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Sharon B. Megdal. 2016. Modes and Approaches of Groundwater Governance: A Survey of Lessons Learned from Selected Cases across the Globe. Water 8(417): 1-24. DOI: 10.3390/w8100417

Emerson, Kirk and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2016. Teaching Collaborative Governance Online: Aligning Collaborative Instruction with Online Learning Platforms. Journal of Public Affairs Education 22(3): 327-344.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Farhad Mukhtarov. 2016. Many Faces of Security: Discursive Framing in Cross-border Natural Resource Governance in the Mekong River Commission. Globalizations 6: 719-740.

Heikkila, Tanya and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2016. Investigating Collaborative Processes Over Time: A 10-Year Study of the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. The American Review of Public Administration 46(2): 180-200.

Armitage, D., R.C. de Loë, M. Morris, T.W. Edwards, A.K. Gerlak, R.I. Hall, D. Huitema, R. Ison, D. Livingstone, G. MacDonald, N. Mirumachi, R. Plummer, B.B. Wolfe. 2015. Science-policy processes for transboundary water governance. Ambio 44(5): 353-66.

Baer, Madeline and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2015. Implementing the human right to water and sanitation: a study of global and local discourses. Third World Quarterly 36(8): 1527-1545.

Megdal, Sharon, Andrea K. Gerlak, Robert G. Varady, and Ling-Yee Huang. 2015.Groundwater Governance in the United States: Common Priorities and Challenges. Groundwater 53(5): 677–684.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Farhad Mukhtarov. 2015. ‘Ways of Knowing’ Water: Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Security as Complementary Discourses. International Environmental Agreements: Politics Law and Economics 15(3): 257-272.

Schmeier, Susanne, Andrea K. Gerlak, and Sabine Blumstein. 2015. Clearing the muddy waters of shared watercourses governance: conceptualizing international River Basin Organizations. International Environmental Agreements DOI 10.1007/s10784-015-9287-4.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2015. Resistance and Reform: Transboundary Water Governance in the Colorado River Delta.Review of Policy Research 32(1): 100-123.

Emerson, Kirk and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2014. Adaptation in Collaborative Governance Regimes. Environmental Management 54: 768-781.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Susanne Schmeier. 2014. Climate Change and Transboundary Waters: A Study of Discourse in the Mekong River Basin. The Journal of Environment and Development 23: 358-386.

Berardo, Ramiro, Tanya Heikkila, and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2014. Interorganizational Engagement in Collaborative Environmental Management: Evidence from the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 24(3): 697-719.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2014. Policy Interactions in Human–Landscape Systems. Environmental Management 53: 67-75.

Heikkila, Tanya and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. Building a Conceptual Approach to Collective Learning: Lessons for Public Policy Scholars. Policy Studies Journal 41(3): 484-511.

Mukhtarov, Farhad and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. Epistemic forms of integrated water resources management: towards knowledge versatility. Policy Sciences 47: 101-120.

Mukhtarov, Farhad and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2013. River Basin Organizations
in the Global Water Discourse: An Exploration of Agency and Strategy. Global Governance 19: 307-326.

Heikkila, Tanya, Andrea K. Gerlak, Andrew Bell, and Susanne Schmeier. 2013. Adaptation in a transboundary river basin: linking stressors and adaptive capacity within the Mekong River Commission. Environmental Science and Policy25: 73-82.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Margaret Wilder. 2012. Exploring the Textured Landscape of Water Insecurity and the Human Right to Water. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development 54(2):4-17.

Berado, Ramiro and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2012. Conflict and Cooperation along International Rivers:Crafting a Model of Institutional Effectiveness. Global Environmental Politics 12(1): 101-120.

Gerlak, Andrea K. and Tanya Heikkila. 2011. Building a Theory of Learning in Collaboratives: Evidence from the Everglades Restoration Program. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 21(4): 619-644.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Jonathan Lautze, and Mark Giordano. 2011. Water Resources Data and Information Exchange in Transboundary Water Treaties. International Environmental Agreements 11: 179-199.

Gerlak, Andrea K., Robert G. Varady, Olivier Petit and Arin C. Haverland. 2011. Hydrosolidarity and beyond: can ethics and equity find a place in today's water resource management? Water International 36(3): 251-265.

Gerlak, Andrea K. 2008. Today's Pragmatic Water Policy: Restoration, Collaboration, and Adaptive Management Along U.S. Rivers. Society & Natural Resources 21(6) (July): 538-545.


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of Arizona
  • M.A. Political Science, University of Nevada
Director EPP Faculty & Researchers EPP
Photo of Gerlak

Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
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