About Melinda

Dr. Melinda Laituri is a professor emeritus of geography in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University. She is the Founding Director of the Geospatial Centroid at CSU that provides support for geospatial research and teaching across the university. She is a Fulbright Scholar having taught GIS at the University of Botswana and conducted research in the Center for Scientific Research, Indigenous Knowledge, and Innovation on participatory mapping and conservation planning. Professor Laituri is a Rachel Carson Fellow for Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximillian University, Munich. Laituri is a founding member of the Center for Environmental Justice. She is a visiting scientist at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University. Laituri was a Jefferson Science Fellow where she was the principal investigator on the Secondary Cities Initiative, part of the State Department’s Office of the Geographer’s Humanitarian Information Unit mapping rapidly growing under-examined cities. She is currently the principal investigator on the Department of State’s Cities’ COVID Mitigation program. She received her PhD from the University of Arizona in Geography and held a three-year tenure track position at University of Auckland, New Zealand before joining Colorado State University.

Google Scholar Profile


  • I am keenly interested in the intersections and boundaries of human activities, physical processes, and ecosystems. Water, ecosystems, and sustainability are inextricably linked across multiple scales. The Department of Ecological Science and Sustainability focuses on understanding the challenges of the 21st Century as related to achieving a healthy environment. My research spans several different areas. I have worked with indigenous peoples throughout the world on issues related to natural resource management and water resource issues using geographic information systems (GIS) that utilize cultural and eco-physical data in research models. A key focus is participatory GIS where indigenous peoples develop spatial information and maps essential for their management of their own resources. Other research work focuses on the role of the Internet and geospatial technologies of disaster management, cross-cultural environmental histories of river basin management, and vulnerable populations in urban areas.


Ph.D. , - University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ, 1993

M.A., - California State University
Chico, CA , 1985

B.A. , - University of California
Berkeley, CA, 1979

Awards, Honors, Grants

  • Jefferson Science Fellow, U.S. Department of State, 2014
  • Rachel Carson Fellow, Munich, Germany, 2011
  • Fulbright Scholar, Botswana, 2010
  • Distinguished Teacher and Advisor Award, Warner College of Natural Resources, 2008
  • Nomination for N. Preston Davis Award for Instructional Innovation, CSU, 2007
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar, PE Tachnikon, Port Elizabeth, South Africa, 2004