Melinda Laituri received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation research focused on environmental equity and groundwater resources in the American Southwest and on the U.S.-Mexico border. Laituri accepted a postdoctoral position at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, where she served as a lecturer in a tenure-track position for three years.
Laituri is a former National Science Foundation program officer in geography and spatial sciences. She is a Fulbright Scholar and spent 2010 in Botswana. She is a Rachel Carson Fellow, conducting comparative research of major rivers. Laituri is the director of the Geospatial Centroid @ CSU, which provides information and support for GIS activities, education and outreach at CSU and in Colorado. In 2014-15, Laituri was a Jefferson Science Fellow and continues working with the Office of the Geographer and Global Issues at the U.S. Department of State on the Secondary Cities Initiative. She is a visiting scientist at the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard University.
Laituri’s research interests are diverse. She has worked with indigenous peoples throughout the world on issues related to natural resource management, disaster adaptation and water resource issues using geographic information systems (GIS) that utilize cultural and eco-physical data in research models. A key focus is participatory GIS in which indigenous peoples develop spatial information and maps essential for the management of their own resources. Other research work focuses on the role of the Internet and geospatial technologies of disaster management, as well as cross-cultural environmental histories of river basin management.