Dr. Heidi Steltzer

Dr. Heidi Steltzer
Coordinator for the Environmental Science Degree Program and Professor of Biology


  • Environmental Science
  • Science and Society
  • Climate Change Impacts
  • Ecosystem Ecology
  • Environmental Health
  • Phenology


  • Ph.D., Ecosystem Ecology, University of Colorado, 1999
  • B.S., Biology, Duke University, 1993


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About Dr. Heidi Steltzer

Dr. Heidi Steltzer is a Professor of Environment and Sustainability and Biology and is the coordinator for the Environmental Science Degree Program. Dr. Steltzer is a co-Principal Investigator on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Watershed Function Scientific Focus Area that is led out of the U.S. DOE Berkeley Laboratory, California, with field studies based at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Gothic, Colorado. She is on the board of directors for the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton, Colorado, and the Western Alliance for Restoration Management at Western Colorado University, Gunnison, Colorado.

Dr. Steltzer is a lead author for the chapter on High Mountain Areas in the 2019 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. She is a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU), and an advocate in AGU’s Voices for Science program launched in 2018 to promote communication about the value and impact of Earth and space science to decision makers, journalists, and public audiences.

Dr. Steltzer is a mountain and Arctic scientist, explorer, and science communicator. She studies how environmental changes affect mountain watersheds and Arctic ecosystems and their link to our well-being. She has spent 25 years conducting field studies on mountain and Arctic hillslopes in Colorado, Alaska, Greenland and recently China. She’s pioneered studies on the impacts of earlier snowmelt through experimentally accelerating snowmelt and monitoring plant and ecosystem responses. Her field studies lead to an experiential approach to higher education, in which she creates opportunities for student-led inquiry into environmental issues. Her experiences engaging with students have influenced her choice to invest in science communication and climate diplomacy. Dr. Steltzer earned her BS in Biology at Duke University. Her doctorate is in Ecosystem Ecology from University of Colorado at Boulder. Find her on social media @heidimountains.

Recent publications

Hock, R., G. Rasul, C. Adler, B. Cáceres, S. Gruber, Y. Hirabayashi, M. Jackson, A. Kääb, S. Kang, S. Kutuzov, Al. Milner, U. Molau, S. Morin, B. Orlove, and H. Steltzer, 2019: High Mountain Areas. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, M. Tignor, E. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Nicolai, A. Okem, J. Petzold, B. Rama, N.M. Weyer (eds.)].

Livensperger, C., Steltzer, H., Darrouzet‐Nardi, A., Sullivan, P.F., Wallenstein, M. and Weintraub, M.N. 2019. Experimentally warmer and drier conditions in an Arctic plant community reveal microclimatic controls on senescence. Ecosphere10(4), p.e02677.

Scientific editor, Cryosphere 1.5, a report for policy makers that summarizes key findings of the IPCC 1.5C and cryosphere special reports, International Climate Cryosphere Initiative, 2019

Hubbard, S. S., K. H. Williams, D. Agarwal, J. Banfield, H. Beller, N. Bouskill, E. Brodie, R. Carroll, B. Dafflon, D. Dwivedi, N. Falco, B. Faybishenko, R. Maxwell, P. Nico, C. Steefel, H. Steltzer, T. Tokunaga, P. A. Tran, H. Wainwright, and C. Varadharajan. 2018. The East River, Colorado, Watershed: A Mountainous Community Testbed for Improving Predictive Understanding of Multiscale Hydrological–Biogeochemical Dynamics. Vadose Zone J. 17:180061. doi:10.2136/vzj2018.03.0061

Recent Honors

  • Witness before the US House Committee Science, Space, and Technology for the U.S. House of Representatives for the hearing on: An Update on the Climate Crisis: From Science to Solutions, 2020
  • Powerhouse Science Center Honoree, Durango, Colorado, 2019

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