Gigi Owen

Staff Scientist, Climate Assessment for the Southwest

Gigi joined the CLIMAS staff in July 2008. As a qualitative social scientist with training in geography and political ecology, her research interests center on interactions between humans and environments. Her current research involves understanding if and how adaptation strategies help people address local impacts of climate change. One project investigates how people who work in the regional food system of Southern Arizona are responding to sudden social, economic, and policy changes introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gigi earned her doctorate in the School of Geography, Development, & Environment at the University of Arizona. Her dissertation research focused on effective adaptation initiatives around the world and evaluating socially-engaged research theories and practices within the CLIMAS program. She continues to run the CLIMAS program evaluation to measure its contributions to building adaptive capacity and resilience in the Southwest. Gigi also directs and manages the CLIMAS-sponsored Environment & Society Fellowship Program.

Gigi has worked on a variety of air, land, and water quality issues across the Arizona-Sonora border region, beginning in 2002 when she moved to Hermosillo, Sonora to study the ecology of desert grasslands and the impacts of buffelgrass. As a CLIMAS graduate student researcher, she worked with Margaret Wilder, investigating public values toward cultural and natural resources in the Lower Colorado River Delta region. Gigi then helped coordinate several community-based, participatory projects in Ambos Nogales, Sonora and Arizona, connected to air quality and alternative environmental technologies with the University of Arizona's Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA).