Michelle Coe

Michelle Coe's picture
NASA Space Grant Fellow August 2013- May 2015


Marshall Rm 549


M.A. Geography, University of Arizona

         Expected Graduation Date: May 2015

B.S. Physical Geography, Minors in GIS and Anthropology

        University of Arizona, May 2013

Research Interests: 

My research seeks to understand the potential deeper effects of the school garden program at Manzo Elementary in Tucson, AZ. Manzo Elementary has recently been named the Best Green School in the nation by the U.S. Green Building Council. I have been working and volunteering at the school for the past several years, most recently with my NASA Fellowship project.
My graduate research questions include: How has the school garden program at Manzo Elementary affected the environmental perceptions of elementary-age school children within the Barrio Hollywood neighborhood and beyond?

More specifically, my research will focus on:
i.) How do children in the school garden program define and view their “local” environment? How does the “local” environment differ from the “non-local” or broader, “global” environment? What does “environment” mean to them?
ii.) How do children in the school garden program frame and understand the issue of sustainability? What initiatives of sustainability are they aware of and how do they articulate and experience these impacts?
iii.) How are the issues of environmental awareness and sustainability being taught to them in the school setting, at home, or in the Tucson community?

My primary research goal is to ascertain how children’s environmental perceptions and knowledge are shaped by an outdoor experiential program such as Manzo Elementary’s school garden. In a sense, my study will provide a cultural translation (i.e. from the language of children to that of adults) that can help shape and inform the ways in which environmental awareness, sustainability, and ultimately climate change are taught to children and how more effectively to incorporate such concepts in understandable ways in outdoor experiential education programs.

Selected Publications: 

-Coe, M.A.,  Archer, S., Breshears, D., Field, J., and Predick. The Equation of Dust: How Vegetation Characteristics Influence Dry-Land Dust Emissions. National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates. Ninth Annual Research into Semi-Arid Ecosystems (RISE) Symposium, October 13, 2012. Tucson, AZ (Poster). http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/rise/2012/Posters/CoePoster.pdf

-Coe, M.A., Villarreal, M. Using High Resolution Satellite Phenology to Identify Grassland Response to Wildfire during Different Climate Periods. Association of American Geographer’s Annual Conference, April 9-13, Los Angeles, California (Poster).

-Gass, L., Norman, L., Villarreal, M., Tolle, C., Coe, M., and Jamwal, P. A Test of Methods to Measure Vegetation Change Adjacent to Gabions in Sonora, Mexico using Landsat imagery. Santa Cruz River Researcher’s Day, April 15-16, Tucson, Arizona (Poster). http://www.sonoraninstitute.org/images/stories/pdfs/Presentations/SCRRes...

-Norman, L., Villarreal, M., Pulliam, H. Ronald, Minckley, R., Gass, L., Tolle, C., Coe, M (2014). Remote Sensing analysis of riparian vegetation response to desert marsh restoration in the Mexican Highlands. Journal of Ecological Engineering, 70 (241-254).

-Tucson Weekly Article : http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/learning-through-landscapes/Content?oid=3918303

-Arizona Illustrated Public Media Video: https://originals.azpm.org/p/azill-nature/2014/1/6/29358-az-illustrated-...



Courses Taught: 

University of Arizona:

                        Spring 2013-Student Preceptor- Geography 230 Our Changing Climate

                        Assistant to PhD candidate Jesse Minor

Responsibilities for this course included grading, leading a discussion, and  tutoring/assisting students outside of the classroom 1-2 times a week.

Approximately 45 students were enrolled in this course.


NASA Space Grant Fellowship: Incorporating Manzo Elementary's restoration ecology program further into the classroom by implementing projects occurring at Biosphere 2's Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) into Manzo Elementary's greenhouse. Manzo's 4th grade class will be learning and replicating projects happening at the LEO site, as well as visiting the Biosphere 2 twice during the school year. Projects will include hypothesizing, data collection, and analyzing results of native seedlings planted on LEO soil, with variation to aspect, temperature, and soil moisture as it may occur in a natural landscape. This will help the children get a sense of how their research and projects are relateable to science at a larger scale, as well as allow a new and innovative area for math, science, and English skills to be incorporated into the curriculum.

Areas of Study: 

Climate change, environmental governance, political ecology, GIS and remote sensing

Dissertation Title: 


Year Graduated UA: 

May 2015