Ronald I. Dorn

COOR 5580


Ron Dorn’s research focuses on the geography of rock decay (weathering), the evolution of desert geomorphology, and the global carbon cycle.

Dr. Dorn’s most current research concentrates on the spatial variability of rock decay and the way in which such geographical data can inform a range of applied and theoretical issues. One of Dorn’s present projects examines how desert mountain ranges influence the global carbon cycle by capturing carbon. Dorn’s work on the global carbon cycle also studies ants as a player in carbon dioxide sequestration because of their role enhancing the dissolution of calcium-silicate minerals. In his desert geomorphology research, Dorn’s focus rests on the study of rock coatings and how Basin and Range landforms of the Sonoran Desert evolve over time and interact with urban sprawl.

Dorn has won teaching and mentoring awards for his work with students. He regularly teaches courses in physical geography, field methods, and advanced graduate courses such as desert geomorphology.

Research Interests

Geomorphology, rock art conservation, petroglyph analysis, quantification and geography of mineral weathering, geographic education, tyranny of the majority in science, rock coatings

Current Research Activities

Rock varnish and rock art

Additional Affiliation(s)

Co-Coordinator, Arizona Geographic Alliance

Awards and Honors

2012 -  President's Medal of Social Embeddedness for the Teaching Foundations Project [led by Laura B. Turchi, shared with many others]

2010 - Geography Excellence in Media Award from the National Council for Geographic Education. [Hinde, E.R., Jimenez-Silva, M., Ekiss, G.O., Dorn, R.I., Osborn Popp, S.E., Managing Editors, (2009, Version 5.4). GeoLiteracy ELL Adaptations: Integrating Geography, Reading and Writing.  Tempe, AZ: Arizona Geographic Alliance.]
2009 - Distinguished Mentor Award from the National Council for Geographic Education
2009 - College of Liberal Arts and Science's Innovation in Teaching Award, Arizona State University
2005 - Enhancement of Geographic Literacy Cram Award, GeoMath, National Council for Social Studies (with G.B. Ekiss and E. Hinde)
2005 - Professor of the Year Special Recognition, Arizona State University Parents Association
2003 - Enhancement of Geographic Literacy Cram Award, GeoLiteracy, National Council for Social Studies (with G.B. Ekiss and E. Hinde)
1996 - Guggenheim Fellowship
1996 - Fellow of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Sciences
1993 - Wiley Award, Presented for Excellence in Geomorphological Research, British Geomorphological Research Group (with Roger LeB. Hooke)
1992 - Fellow of the Geological Society of America
1992 - Castleton Award, Presented for Excellence in Rock Art Research, American Rock Art Research Association
G.K. Gilbert Award, Presented for Excellence in Geomorphological Research, Geomorphology Specialty
1987 - Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation
1986 - Kirk Bryan Award of the Geological Society of America (with T.M. Oberlander), For Excellence in Geomorphological Research

Selected Publications

For a complete list of Dr. Dorn’s publications, please see his curriculum vitae.

Courses Taught

My course profile varies considerably, depending student needs. Most recently, I have taught in the CLAS learning communities, GPH 111 (Introduction to Physical Geography), GPH 211 (Landform Processes), GPH 418 (Western U.S. Landforms), GPH 491 (Field Methods), GCU 414 (Teaching Geography Standards), GCU 496 (Research Methods), Courses in the Master of Advanced Study in Geographic Education program, and graduate geomorphology seminars on desert geomorphology and weathering.

Outreach and Service

I am the co-coordinator of the Arizona Geographic Alliance (AzGA).

The purpose of the Arizona Geographic Alliance (AzGA) is to strengthen geography education in Arizona. We are funded through grants from the National Geographic Society. We also receive money from the Arizona's Department of Education. In addition, we receive support from Arizona State University's School of Geographical Sciences where the AzGA office is located.

AzGA is proud to partner with these agencies as well as the Arizona Council on Economic Education, Arizona Foundation on Legal Services and Education, and the Arizona Council for the Social Studies, as well as other national and state groups. AzGA was founded in 1992 as part of a national network of state geography alliances sponsored by the National Geographic Society. AzGA currently has over 3,000 members and more than 175 teachers in its Teacher Consultant leadership cadre.


1985 - Ph.D. (Geography) University of California, Los Angeles
1982 - M.A. (Geography) University of California, Berkeley
1980 - B.A. (Geography) University of California, Berkeley