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Robert Davies

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Associate Professor of Professional Practice

Prof Practice Assoc Professor

Contact Information

Office Location: SER 218D
DialPhone: 435-753-5707

Educational Background

PhD, Physics, (Surface Physics), Utah State University, 1999
Evolution of Secondary Electron Emission Characteristics of Spacecra
MS, Physics, (Surface Physics), Utah State University, 1996
BS, Physics, South Dakota State University, 1986


As a physicist my training has been in atmospheric physics, surface physics, and quantum optics. But my work for more than a decade has been in critical science communication, principally focused on climate change and sustainable human systems. I have taught on the faculty of three universities; worked as project scientist for Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory; as technical liaison for NASA’s International Space Station project; as a physicist and climate change communicator with the Utah Climate Center; and served as an officer and meteorologist in the United States Air Force. My published scientific works are in the fields of spacecraft interactions with the space environment; the fundamental nature of light and information; and Earth’s climate system. I am also co-creator, along with USU’s Fry Street Quartet, of The Crossroads Project, a “performance science” project weaving together science lecture, imagery and music on the topic of human sustainability.

Teaching Interests

I have taught throughout the undergraduate physics curriculum, including introductory physics, astronomy, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and quantum mechanics. I have also developed courses in climate change, the science of the Anthropocene, and scientific storytelling. In addition to teaching courses of my own, I regularly guest lecture in courses throughout the university curriculum (more than three dozen to date) on climate change, human sustainability, and science communication. I also maintain an active public speaking schedule and have delivered hundreds of public lectures on these topics to civic organizations, policymakers, municipal boards and schools.

Research Interests

My work is in critical science communication, principally focused on climate change and human sustainability. This work involves first synthesizing a broad spectrum of Earth Systems and Human Systems science, analyzing it through the lens of human sustainability, and then developing narratives and visuals that build a common scientific foundation in the public consciousness for understanding these critical public issues. One encounters such terms and concepts as the Anthropocene, the Great Acceleration, Global Footprints, the Sixth Great Extinction, Planetary Boundaries, and Great Transitions. The unifying physical framework is that of “Complexity” and includes such notions as emergence, feedback, leverage points, tipping points, wickedness, and super-wickedness. The challenge is to make these concpets meaningful to a broad spectrum of the general public; hence, much of this communication work involves collaboration with artists ― including visual artists, composers, performance musicians, actors, writers and filmmakers.

Scheduled Teaching

PHYS 2320 - Physics for Scientists II, Spring 2018

CCA 3070 - Unveiling the Anthropocene, Spring 2018