The Biosphere 2 facility (Earth is Biosphere 1), affectionately known as B2, was originally established to examine ecosystem cycling to support self-sustaining human life and research activities. The highly public experiments sealing humans inside for extended periods concluded in the mid-1990s. Since then, the facility has been further developed as a research facility now owned by the University of Arizona (UA) which uses the unique environmental control and monitoring systems to conduct large-scale projects. Situated at an elevation of 3,820 ft. in the desert northwest of Tucson, Arizona, B2 houses biomes including a coral reef, mangrove wetlands, tropical rainforest, savannah grassland, and fog desert (interactive aerial view). The Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) consists of three huge landscapes inside an environmentally controlled greenhouse. LEO is used to investigate how water, carbon, and energy move through terrestrial landscapes.
What type of work is done at Biosphere 2?
Big field-scale science is only one of the missions of Biosphere 2. Their second mission is to increase public scientific literacy by inviting the public to engage with researchers and learn about how these experiments will impact our future.
Research Opportunities at B2
With the recent completion of LEO and ongoing development of the facility, B2 is a very active research site in the summer. In addition to research, the site hosts nearly 100K visitors per year and numerous REU, teacher development, and experiential education programs. STAR Fellows may or may not be offered a placement for any particular project. UA provides, at a cost, on-site housing for STAR Fellows offered a placement. Shared accommodations in the casitas are the most financially practical arrangement. Access to a personal vehicle is recommended for off-site travel, but is not necessary as the facility has regular shuttles to the nearest grocery stores. B2 provides extensive information on their website to help you prepare for local conditions. Many research projects involve extended periods of time in challenging environments inside and outside.
Previous projects at B2 include:
- Seven Anion Comparison for the Center and West Hill Slope Systems in the Landscape Evolution Observatory (LEO) Project, Sarah C. Corrigan, Edward Hunt, and Katerina Dontsova
- Does the Production of Isoprene Affect the Productivity of Poplars?, Erik J. McFarland, Elizabeth Ann Parra, Greg Barron-Gafford, Rebecca Larkin Minor, and Maggie Heard
- Effects of Biosphere 2 Summer Science Academy on Students' Attitudes about Science, Erica Oberg