Our planet is surrounded by a thin shell of atmosphere, water, and rocky crust, referred to by scientists as the critical zone. This shell, which is reflected in DENIN's logo, extends roughly from the tops of the trees to bedrock, where groundwater no longer penetrates. All life as we know it resides within this narrow band — where land, water, and sky meet and interact.
Much the way many life-sustaining processes take place at the interfaces of soil and water or water and air, at DENIN we believe that we discover more about our environment when we work on problems at the intersection of different disciplines. And when it comes to solving environmental problems, we embrace the social sciences and humanities as well. We humans are shaping our world as never before, and any actions we take or solutions we employ will affect both the natural world and our social and economic systems.
The Institute focuses on core research areas relevant to some of the grand challenges facing our state, our nation, and our world. DENIN research informs decision makers by providing the knowledge that helps create sound environmental policies. By working together with our local and international partners, we are bringing socially acceptable, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions to life.
— Donald L. Sparks, Director