Andrea K. Gerlak

Andrea K. Gerlak

Director, Udall Center
Research Professor, Environmental Policy Programs, Udall Center
Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment

Andrea K. Gerlak is Director of the Udall Center, and professor in the School of Geography, Development and Environment at the University of Arizona.

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

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-19 The Hill. August 10, 2020. 

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.

Selected publications

Gerlak, Andrea K., Elena Louder, and Helen Ingram. 2022. Viewpoint: An intersectional approach to water equity in the US. Water Alternatives 15(1): 1-12 

Zuniga-Terna, Adriana, Andrea K. Gerlak, Alison Elder, and Alexander Tam. 2021. 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 126: 234–245.

Rivera-Torres, Mariana, Andrea K. Gerlak, Katharine L. Jacobs. 2021. Lesson learning in the Colorado River Basin. Water International 46(1): 1-11. 

Rivera-Torres, Mariana and Andrea K. Gerlak. 2021. Evolving together: transboundary water governance in the Colorado River Basin. International Environmental Agreements 21: 553–574.

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

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 23(5):  599-615.

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 38: 1-11.

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 5: 653-666. 

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 WaterInternational 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.


  • Ph.D. Political Science, University of Arizona
  • M.A. Political Science, University of Nevada