Professor Hurtt received his Ph.D from Princeton University in 1997. From 1998-2010, Dr. Hurtt worked at the University of New Hampshire in the Institute for the Study of Earth Oceans and Space and Department of Natural Resources, finally becoming Chair of the Natural Resources and Earth System Science Ph.D. Program, UNH's largest doctoral program, and Director the Complex Systems Research Center, UNH's main center focused on Earth System Science. In 2010, Dr. Hurtt joined the University of Maryland Department of Geography as Professor & Research Director, and in 2011 he was named Associate Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, and Associate Director of Research Innovations at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC). Dr. Hurtt is involved in multiple collaborative research projects including the North American Carbon Program, NASA’s Vegetation Structure Working Group, NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System, and DOE’s Integrated Earth System Modeling project. He previously led the international effort on global land-use harmonization for CMIP5 in preparation for the IPCC 5th assessment, and a NASA interdisciplinary science investigation focused on the role of natural disturbances on the Earth's coupled carbon-climate-human system. He is currently co-chair of the Land Use Model Intercomparison Project (LUMIP) for CMIP6, Science Team Leader for the NASA Carbon Monitoring System, Science Team Member for the NASA-GEDI mission, Associate Editor of Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Guest Editor for Environmental Research Letters, and Contributing Faculty Member to the Global Change Ecology section of Faculty of 1000. He is Chair of the University Research Council, Member of the University Environment Work Group, and leads the UMD/NASA-GSFC Joint Global Carbon Cycle Center.

Areas of Interest

  • Ecological theory and its applications
  • Vegetation structure and dynamics
  • Land-use, carbon, climate interactions
  • Biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Integrated models and observations of coupled natural-human systems
  • Earth System Science


  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 1997
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, 1994
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, University of Connecticut, 1992
  • Degree Type
    Degree Details
    Middlebury College, 1990
Dr. Hurtt's teaching philosophy is rooted in the modern shift taking place in colleges and universities from a “teaching centered” paradigm to a “learning centered” paradigm. To implement this philosophy, his teaching follows “best practice” principles including: student-faculty contact, cooperation among students, active learning, setting high expectations, and respect for diversity. His approach is heavily inquiry based, and emphasizes the identification and use of important science questions to motivate new knowledge, new skills, and discovery through research.
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
GEOG415 Land Use, Climate Change, and Sustainability Syllabus
GEOG615 Land Cover and Land Use Chage Syllabus
GEOG442 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG642 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG442 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG642 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG442 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG642 Biogeography and Environmental Change Syllabus
GEOG442 Biogeography and Environmental Change
Course Name Course Title Semester Syllabus
GEOG301 Advanced Geographical Environmental Systems Syllabus

Dr. Hurtt is interested in the structure, function, and dynamics of ecological systems in the context of global change. His primary approach is to combine mathematics and data to develop models for scientific understanding and prediction. He has published on a wide range of topics including: the structure and dynamics of terrestrial ecosystems, latitudinal and elevational gradients in biodiversity, and ocean and terrestrial ecosystem models for use in studies of the global carbon cycle and global climate change. Current research is focused on the development and application of mathematical models to address issues such as: the sustainability of land-use practices and their effect climate, the effects of disturbances on ecosystem structure and function, terrestrial carbon sequestration and MRV, and interactions between the biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere and society.

Service and outreach are essential for the common good, for advancing disciplines and institutions, and for both communicating research and making it more responsive. Dr. Hurtt is actively engaged in multiple service activities across a range of scales from the university, to the state, to nationally and internationally.
  • Research Director, Department of Geographical Sciences
  • Chair, University Research Council
  • Science Team Leader, NASA Carbon Monitoring System
  • Co-Chair, Land Use Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6)
  • Guest Editor, Environmental Research Letters

Current Students

Former Students

  • Dr. R. Quinn Thomas
    Virginia Tech
  • Dr. Manoel Cardoso
    Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Brasil
  • Dr. Michael Palace
    Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire
  • Dr. Ritvik Sahajpal
    University of Maryland
  • Dr. Justin Fisk
    Applied Geosolutions
  • Dr. Katelyn Dolan
    University of Montana/NASA-GSFC
  • Dr. Steve Flanagan
    Tall Timbers Research Station

Related Students (Listed by Student on Student's Profile)

  • Rachel Lamb
George Hurtt
1149 LeFrak
Department of Geographical Sciences
gchurtt [at]