Torran Anderson Dr. Karletta Chief with Indige-FEWSS Trainees visiting a Chapter House in Blue Gap, Arizona.
May 8, 2021

Celebrating Karletta Chief as a Distinguished Outreach Faculty

Congratulations to Dr. Karletta Chief on receiving the University Distinguished Outreach Faculty Award for 2021! This honor recognizes faculty who demonstrate outstanding commitment to outreach for the common good of the state and the nation, and it is the highest honor awarded in this category at the University of Arizona.

“It is a great honor to receive this distinguished award, and [I am] so humbled by this honor!” Dr. Chief wrote. “Many thanks to my colleagues for nominating me and for all the time in putting the nomination packet together. I would like to acknowledge all my collaborators and students who also contributed greatly towards nurturing equitable partnerships with tribes, tribal colleges and mentoring and training Indigenous students. Without them, I would not be able to do this work.”

“I am also very proud to be part of the ENVS department,” Dr. Chief continued, “and to have such supportive and collegial colleagues! I am definitely grateful for the mentoring I received from Sharon Megdal, Paloma Beamer, Raina Maier, Jeannie McLain, Mike Crimmins and many others along the way. I am very grateful for the recognition by the University of Arizona and even more dedicated to continuing to contribute to the land grant mission!” 

Dr. Chief was nominated by colleagues in the Department of Environmental Science (ENVS), the Arizona Institutes for Resilience (AIR) and the Agnese Nelms Haury Program for Environment and Social Justice with support from colleagues across UArizona, the Navajo Nation, and throughout the country. The nomination extolled her outreach work both inside and outside the settings of the University and academia, highlighting Dr. Chief’s “brilliant approach to innovation by developing and executing community-driven Indigenous-centered water outreach programs.”

Dr. Chief’s outreach focuses on environmental justice in Native American and Indigenous communities. The Indige-FEWSS program, for which Dr. Chief is the principal investigator, aims to develop and implement transformative models for STEM graduate education training and to prepare food-energy-water systems (FEWS) experts to work in fellowship with and within Indigenous communities. 

Dr. Liesl Folks, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, recognized and congratulated Dr. Chief on behalf of the university-wide committee for this award. “Your impact in the community, at a national and international level is exceptional,” Provost Folks wrote. “The letters from community partners testify to your powerful advocacy for the environment, respectful tribal engagement, and Native American STEM Pipeline from reservation to academia.”  


The Indige-FEWSS program is housed within AIR and is funded by the National Science Foundation with collaborations with the UArizona Superfund Research Program.