MacArthur Fellows Program

Gary Paul Nabhan

Ethnobotanist and Nature Writer | Class of 1990

Title
Ethnobotanist and Nature Writer
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Age
38 at time of award
Area of Focus
Food and Agriculture

Gary Nabhan is an ethnobotanist and nature writer whose studies of indigenous farming, wild-food gathering, and land management focus on conserving ancient cultural traditions.

Nabhan’s work offers important insights into the relationship between culture and land, especially with respect to the constraints of limited, natural resources that all societies eventually face.  In 1983, Nabhan co-founded Native Seeds/SEARCH, a nonprofit organization working to preserve native Southwestern crops.  He has studied native agricultural traditions of the Southwest, and has led a multicultural research team to inventory the endangered, useful plants of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  His work has led directly to conservation of the genetic and cultural heritage of the region.

Nabhan is the director of the Center for Sustainable Environments at Northern Arizona University and a professor in the Department of Applied Indigenous Studies and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Education.  He is the author of several books, including The Desert Smells Like Rain (1982), Gathering the Desert (1985), Enduring Seeds (1989), The Geography of Childhood (1994), Desert Legends (1995), The Forgotten Pollinators (1996), Coming Home to Eat (2001), and Singing the Turtles to the Sea (2003).

Nabhan received a B.A. (1973) from Prescott College in Arizona, and an M.S. (1978) and a Ph.D. (1983) from the University of Arizona, Tucson.

Last updated January 1, 2005

News About This Fellow
August 23, 2016
"Tucson Becomes an Unlikely Food Star"
The New York Times
Gary Paul Nabhan , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
April 23, 2015
"MacArthur Fellow Gary Paul Nabhan"
Arizona Public Media
Gary Paul Nabhan , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
April 28, 2014
"Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land with Gary Nabhan"
Agricultural Insights
Gary Paul Nabhan , 1990 MacArthur Fellow
October 29, 2013
New UA Report Details Successes and Best Practices in Heritage Food Recovery
The University of Arizona
Gary Paul Nabhan, 1990 MacArthur Fellow
View all news
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