University of Arizona ranked #1 among US Universities and #4 among institutions worldwide for top-cited environmental science publications

(Photo by D. Harvey)
(Photo by D. Harvey)


An article published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment found the University of Arizona to be the most productive university in the United States for top-cited publications pertaining to the field of “environmental science”—and the fourth most productive institution in this regard worldwide.

The authors employed the Thompson Reuters Web of Science database to measure institutional contributions to 181 environmental science journals listed in Journal Citation Reports (JCR).  Productivity of the UA was exceeded worldwide only by the U.S. Geological Survey, Brunel University (UK), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which were ranked 1-3 respectively. 

The same study found the United States to be by far the most productive country in respect to publications in environmental science.

The authors define environmental science as a “multi-disciplinary field” that “specifically focuses on water, air, soil and climate research.”  UA’s strength in this area derives from the breadth and depth of faculty, students and staff in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, School of Natural Resources and Environment), the College of Science (Departments of Atmospheric Science, Geosciences, Hydrology and Water Resources) and the College of Engineering (Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering). 

The USGS actually maintains a regional office on the UA campus with strong program connections in the CALS and other colleges.

“Together with the USGS, we have two of the top five environmental research powers cited in the article co-located here, making Tucson a global nucleus and leader for environmental science research,” said Shane Burgess, vice provost and CALS dean.

The UA confers undergraduate and graduate degrees in Environmental Science through the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science (SWES).  CALS faculty lead several inter-college research efforts such as the NIH-funded Superfund Research Program (, the NSF-funded Critical Zone Observatory (, and the Santa Rita Experimental Range ( 

The article by Khan and Ho indicates that these and many other similar efforts across the UA campus are giving rise to impactful environmental science publications in the top cited journals in the field. For further details, see Khan, M.A. and Ho, Y.S. (2012) Top-cited articles in environmental science:  Merits and demerits of citation analysis.  Science of the Total Environment, 431, 122-127.

Date released: 
Feb 11 2013
Jon Chorover