Melanie Lenart focuses on working with the planet and its people in a variety of contexts. As a teacher, she guides students in environmental writing, science, and natural resources—including shaping the landscape to harvest rainfall to support trees and grow food.
As a writer, she topped off decades of writing for newspapers, magazines and other general publications with a book, Life in the Hothouse: How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change. The book examines how the planet has adapted to climate swings—from cold, dry ice ages to humid, ice-free hothouses—over the past 100 million years. Lessons for modern-day humans include that a warmer Earth needs more wetlands and forests.
As a scientist, her research has ranged from measuring the dynamics of natural systems to assessing perceptions of climate change. Her work since 2012, including with Linking Edible Arizona Forests, combines her background in forestry and natural resources with a growing interest in permaculture and other aspects of agroecology: the ecology of sustainable agriculture.
A native of Chicago and previous resident of Puerto Rico, she has lived in Arizona since 1996, working with the University of Arizona in Tucson for many years. In 2015, she joined the faculty Tohono O’odham Community College in southwestern Arizona with a focus on agroecology and water resources.