Melanie Colavito

About Melanie Colavito

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona. I have a minor in Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis and graduate certificates in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and College Teaching.

I recently finished a stint as a Teaching Associate for the Master of Science in GIS Technology (MS-GIST) program at the University of Arizona. Prior to that, I spent three years working with Arizona Cooperative Extension to develop GIS models to determine suitable locations for siting solar energy facilities in Arizona. As part of my Master's research, I worked with the Mt. Lemmon GIS Project to develop a spatial database and cartographic products as part of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan for Summerhaven, Arizona.

My research interests include the connections between science and decision-making, the communication of science, collaboration in natural resource management, wildfire social science, forest restoration and management, social and ecological resilience, and climate change.

My dissertation research investigates the extent to which collaboration leads to better integration of science into decision-making in forest restoration and management and how decision-making affects ecological outcomes in forested landscapes. My research is ultimately concerned with the connections between social and ecological processes, as well as how science is connected with decision-making. I approach my research with a use-inspired framework and seek to produce results that are relevant to decision-makers and scientists alike.

I am currently based out of Flagstaff, Arizona, where I am finishing on my dissertation. I expect to graduate in May of 2015.


Graduate Research Associate, January 2010 - December 2012, Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Development, Arizona Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona

Graduate Research Assistant, January 2008 - August 2009, Mt. Lemmon GIS Project, Center for Applied Spatial Analysis, University of Arizona

Editor, 2008, you are here: the journal of creative geography, School of Geography & Development, University of Arizona

Selected Publications

Peer Reviewed Work

Colavito, Melanie (2015). “Enhancing Scientist-Manager Relationships to Foster Ecosystem Resilience.” In Keane, R.E., Jolly, M., Parsons, R., Riley, K. (eds.). Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, pp. 269 – 272.

Apel, Mark and Melanie Colavito (Dec. 2014/ Jan. 2015). “From Maps to Megawatts: A GISBased Renewable Energy Opportunity Analysis for Arizona.” The Western Planner 35 (5): 3-6.

Conference Proceedings:

Colavito, Melanie, Erik Glenn, Mark Apel, and Iris Patten (2011). “LUCIS Modeling for Renewable Energy in Cochise County, AZ.” International ESRI User Conference Proceedings. Available online:

Meyers, Melanie, Gary Christopherson, and Glen Buettner (2010). “Developing GIS in Small Communities for Wildfire Protection Plans.” International ESRI User Conference Proceedings. Available online:

Melanie Colavito's picture

Contact Information


PhD in Geography (minor Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis) - Dec 2015 (anticipated)

Graduate Certificate in College Teaching - May 2013

MA in Geography - December 2009

Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - Decemeber 2007

BA in Geography with honors in Creative Writing (minors in Creative Writing & Spanish) - May 2007

Dissertation Title

Science and Collaboration in Forest Restoration

Courses Taught

Instructor, Presession 2013, GEOG 303: Field Methods in Environmental Geography, University of Arizona 

Teaching Associate, Fall 2012 – Summer 2013, Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems Technology Program, University of Arizona

Instructor, Presession 2012, GEOG 303: Field Methods in Environmental Geography, University of Arizona

Teaching Assistant, Spring 2009, GEOG 483/583: Geographic Applications of Remote Sensing, University of Arizona

Teaching Assistant, Fall 2008, GEOG 417/517: Geographic Information Systems, University of Arizona

Teaching Assistant, Spring 2008, GEOG 416a/516a: Computer Cartography, University of Arizona

Teaching Assistant, Fall 2007, GEOG 417/517: Geographic Information Systems, University of Arizona