Nexus of Land and Water:

Southwest Initiative on Land Health and Water Resources
ROLE: Interdisciplinary Problem Solver
TERMS: Independent Contractor / Stipend of $3,000
TIMELINE: May 2024 to October 2024
DEADLINE: April 1, 2024
LOCATION: The project is hybrid, with virtual listening sessions in May in the Southwest, online/virtual bi-weekly working sessions from June-August, and a three day in-person workshop in Colorado in September 2024 (travel expenses will be covered), dates TBC.
APPLICATION: Electronic submission only.Include: cover letter, resume, short narrative bio, links to relevant research/projects, and two professional references, combined in one PDF.

Submit your application via:

A core team for this project, made up of collaborators from the Wright-Ingraham Institute, Mountain Studies Institute, the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, New Mexico State University, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Haven (Cortez, CO), are soliciting scholars, professionals, researchers, post-graduates, master’s and doctoral students to join the project as interdisciplinary problem solvers.

The Wright-Ingraham Institute, in partnership with Mountain Studies Institute is organizing an interdisciplinary, solutions-based project to generate creative solutions addressing the issue of Dust on Snow in the San Juan Mountains, and communities and ecosystems that depend on them.

Dust is produced from a multitude of anthropogenic and natural sources in arid lands, transported through the atmosphere, and eventually deposited onto the snowpack. This dust deposition on snow changes the reflectivity of the snowpack, leading to early and higher snowmelt rates. This, in turn, places stress on water storage, heightens the risk of floods and impacts drought. Although the project is centered around a specific geographic area, the issue is of global relevance.

This interdisciplinary project brings together experts in hydrology, agronomy, soil science, agriculture, range management, education and design fields including architecture and media arts to develop pilot projects to begin to address and find solutions to this complex problem.

Project Objectives

  • Engage with quantitative historic data samples from the region and qualitative reporting on trends from regional stakeholders.
  • Organize and summarize available cultural, scientific, and community based understandings of the issues and mechanisms of dust on snow.
  • Identify key areas of focus to generate solutions to dust on snow.
  • Propose innovative interpretation, education, and visualization tools to broaden understanding and expand public discourse around the issue.
  • Develop collaborative pilot projects to address the issue.

Project Timeline

April 1, 2024 Interdisciplinary Problem Solver Application Deadline
April 15, 2024 Notification Sent to Applicants
May 2024 Listening Sessions – Hybrid
June – Aug 2024 Project Development – Virtual
Sep 2024 Symposium – In person – Cortez, CO, dates TBC
Oct 2024 Final Report / Feedback


  • Participation in listening sessions
  • Development of key areas of focus (examples include agriculture, storytelling, atmospheric modeling, soil science, environmental health)
  • Development of implementable pilot projects. This includes methodologies, expected outcomes, resources needed, stakeholders, etc.
  • Virtual / online meetings twice a month with sub-focus groups generated based on key areas of focus identified
  • Three day in person workshop held in Cortez CO, to visit field sites, present project ideas, and create a prioritization of projects
  • Final reporting and reflection


We are committed to forming a diverse group of scholars, professionals, researchers, post-graduates, master’s and doctoral students that bring an interdisciplinary approach to the issue of dust on snow. We are seeking individuals with a variety of skill sets, including expertise in:

  • Agricultural practices
  • Rangeland ecology and management
  • Soil science
  • Policy making
  • Education
  • Art
  • Architecture / Landscape Architecture
  • Storytelling
  • Cartography
  • Hydrology / Snow science
  • Tribal Issues
  • Indigenous or Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK)
  • Climatology
  • Community leadership
  • Atmospheric modeling


Interdisciplinary Problem Solvers will be offered a stipend of $3,000. Travel, room and board for the 3-day in person workshop in Cortez, CO will be covered.


The initial deadline for Interdisciplinary Problem Solvers is April 1st, and notifications will be sent out by April 15th.

Relevant Reports

  1. Impact of disturbed desert soils on duration of mountain snow cover
  2. Contemporary geochemical composition and flux of aeolian dust to the San Juan Mountains, Colorado, United States
  3. Regional variability in dust-on-snow processes and impacts in the Upper Colorado River Basin
  4. Black carbon and mineral dust in snow cover on the Tibetan Plateau
  5. Mineral dust impact on snow radiative properties in the European Alps combining ground, UAV, and satellite observations
  6. Predominant transport paths of Saharan dust over the Mediterranean Sea to Europe

Organized by Wright-Ingraham Institute in partnership with Mountain Studies Institute.

About the Wright-Ingraham Institute

Today, more than ever, our understanding of interfaces (nexi) between ecological/environmental systems and human cultures requires integrated inquiry and new problem solving techniques. To meet these challenges, the Wright-Ingraham Institute conducts and applies multifaceted research to site specific field study programs that engage with and benefit graduate students, leading academic thinkers, scientists, professionals, policy makers and stakeholders. Our goal is to model ways of understanding and interpreting complex systems that contribute to meaningful solutions in the service of society. Read more at

About Mountain Studies Institute

We build collaborations that enable resilient mountain communities to articulate issues, develop initiatives, and ignite collaborations that sustain the social, cultural, natural, and economic resources of the San Juan Mountains and mountain systems worldwide. For more information, visit: