About Me

I am a science educator, researcher, and program director who values equity in education, partnerships, environmental sustainability, and multi-disciplinary approaches to problem-solving and knowledge production.  My academic background includes a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of New Mexico with a specialization in physiological plant ecology, geochemistry, and climate-vegetation relationships. My Master’s degree in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan involves a specialization in limnology with a focus on nutrient cycling. I also hold a Graduate Certification in Academic Leadership for Higher Education Administration.  I have been Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on numerous grants and projects, ranging from my current $2.5 million NSF grant for enhancing STEM education and research using indigenous paradigms to smaller NSF and NIFA grants involving two main areas: community-based participatory research in climate change and energy sustainability, and creating the infrastructure for a science degree program.

I am currently the Academic Area Chair of Science and Health at Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC), a tribal college of the Tohono O’odham Nation located an hour west of Tucson, Arizona. At TOCC, I developed a culturally-relevant Associate of Science program using innovative approaches that bridge traditional ecological knowledge and Western science.  My current research interests include the preservation of biocultural diversity, indigenous education, environmental sustainability, and ecosystem responses to climate change.  Previously, I have served as a faculty member at Northern Arizona University’s (NAU) Center for Sustainable Environments, at Pima Community College (PCC), and as Research Scientist in paleoceanography at the University of Michigan and the University of New Mexico.  I have also been a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, investigating the response of pinyon pine to climatic variability.  My peer-reviewed research publications span many disciplines ranging from plant physiological ecology to paleolimnology, paleoceanography, and indigenous education.

While at TOCC, I have been an invited faculty member at the University of Arizona’s American Indian Language Development Institute and American Indian Studies program in traditional ecological knowledge. I have partnered on numerous grants and projects with the National Council for Science and the Environment, Northern Arizona University, and the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, involving the creation of culturally-relevant trans-disciplinary curricula in science, mathematics, and traditional knowledge, specifically focused on the intersection of climate change, water, and cultural knowledge.  I have authored a variety of works, including a bio-cultural atlas of plants of the Tohono O’odham Nation that incorporates scientific, linguistic, and cultural information as a tool for engaged pedagogy and preservation of biocultural diversity.  Recently, as an NSF Fellow in the Opportunities for Underrepresented Scholars program, I developed an indigenous education model for teaching science from a holistic, culturally-based perspective (Tribal College and University Research Journal, 2016). Recently, with coauthor Octaviana Trujillo, I authored Chapter 13, “Decolonizing Education through Transdisciplinary Approaches to Climate Change Education”, in the book Indigenous and Decolonization Studies in Education. Currently, I am Principal Investigator on a $2.5 million NSF grant that applies my indigenous education model to developing STEM programs at TOCC.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Biology, The University of New Mexico.
  • Master of Science (M.S.), Natural Resources, University of Michigan.
  • Postgraduate Certificate, Higher Education Academic Leadership, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
  • Post-baccalaureate degree in Secondary Education with Teaching Certification, State of Arizona.
  • Teresa Lynn Newberry – Curriculum Vitae

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