B.L. Turner II named as Regents' Professor

B.L. Turner II has been named a Regents' Professor, Arizona's highest faculty honor. He was nominated by ASU President Michael Crow and were approved by the Arizona Board of Regents on Friday.

The title of Regents' Professor goes goes to full professors from one of the three Arizona public universities whose exceptional achievements have brought them national or international distinction. 

Turner holds a joint appointment as Gilbert F. White Professor of Environment and Society in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and a professor in ASU’s School of Sustainability.  He joins Luc Anselin and Janet Franklin as Regents' Professors in  in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

Here is a short profile (from ASU Now, Nov 20, 2015):


Turner is a pioneer in the field of sustainability science.

He was among the first researchers to use data to better understand how humans affect the landscape. He chaired the international committee that established “land system science” as a program of study and was instrumental in founding ASU’s interdisciplinary School of Sustainability.

Turner’s research, which includes the discovery of how the ancient Maya peoples’ activities contributed to the collapse of their society, has changed the way communities and countries think about the environment and climate change. Currently he is working on the design of urban landscapes to reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining human well-being.

“This is a big university with a lot of talent in it, and to be selected from that kind of talent is quite an honor,” he said.

Coming to Arizona prompted Turner to shift his research emphasis from rural to urban areas.

“I spent most of my life working on questions of land change and the implications for the environment for people in the tropical world, focusing a lot on tropical deforestation,” he said.

“In coming here, I have switched my orientation from looking at land change in big, wild rural areas to the question of Phoenix. I’m very much paying attention to how one could redesign the landscape in the Phoenix metropolitan area so it would reduce the environmental problems.

“What can you do at the micro level? What does the shape of the different vegetation types in your yard mean for the microclimate of that parcel?  Can you add that up to the climate in the neighborhood? Can you add that up to the northeastern part of the Phoenix metropolitan area?

“I’ve always had a good sense of where the big problems are.”