John Sabo, an expert in ecohydrology and water resource management, has been named director of research development for the Global Institute of Sustainability, a transdisciplinary unit in the Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development. OKED is responsible for advancing research, entrepreneurship, innovation and economic development at Arizona State University.
Sabo is also a senior sustainability scientist in GIOS and an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
“Dr. Sabo has a collaborative and entrepreneurial approach. I’m confident his leadership will greatly benefit sustainability-related research and researchers across ASU,” said Rob Melnick, executive dean with GIOS and the School of Sustainability.
The GIOS proposal development team provides specialized support in writing grant proposals for ASU sustainability scientists and scholars. In 2011, the team submitted more than 65 research proposals on behalf of the university’s scientists and scholars requesting more than $79 million in funding with 31 percent of proposals awarded of those that are not still pending this year.
“The team helps ASU meet its universitywide commitment to conduct leading-edge research that addresses global challenges of sustainability,” Melnick said.
Sabo, in remarking on his appointment, said: “I am excited to lead the GIOS proposal team and serve the broader community of sustainability scientists at ASU. This position represents a significant opportunity for me to contribute to defining the ASU brand name of sustainability related research.”
In addition to his administrative role at GIOS, Sabo leads a group of scientists from about a dozen universities who are using the latest technologies to chart the plight of dwindling water supplies in the American West. His research employs large-scale field experiments, stable isotopic tracers, and lab physiology to understand links between the water cycle and animal performance, abundance, and species diversity.
“Dr. Sabo has been actively engaged with GIOS and with sustainability research for many years. He is well known for his work on water, climate variability and riparian ecology,” said Melnick.
Most of Sabo’s work focuses on riparian and river ecology. Students in Sabo’s lab study links between ground water and animals in riparian forests. They are finding that riparian trees connect groundwater to riparian animals that live above ground, enhancing the abundance of these organisms and changing the way terrestrial food webs function.
Sabo’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation, USGS, EPA and the Department of Defense. He has projects that examine the effects of dams on energy flow through aquatic food webs. One aspect of this work is to understand how dams alter the relative dependence of top predators on aquatic and terrestrial sources of carbon, and thus energy. All this work is geared toward understanding the sustainable management of water resources for humans and biodiversity.
Sabo has a doctorate in ecology form the University of California, Berkeley. His master’s degree in fisheries is from the University of Washington and his bachelor’s degree with honors is from the University of Notre Dame.
He joined ASU’s faculty in 2002 and teaches classes in biometry, experimental design, field ecology, and water and sustainability.
Sabo will hold an office in Wrigley Hall, room 458. Researchers are asked to contact Diana Rodak in GIOS for more information on proposal support services.