University of Oklahoma

Tim Filley

Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability; School of Geosciences

Director, Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems


Tim Filley is the executive director of the Institute for Resilient Environmental and Energy Systems (IREES) and professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability and the School of Geosciences at the University of Oklahoma (OU). Filley joined OU in 2021 to support the University’s bold new strategic plan as inaugural director of IREES. Filley received a B.S. in chemistry from Loyola University of Chicago, his Ph.D. in geosciences from the Pennsylvania State University, and he completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Science Earth and Planets Laboratory in Washington, D.C. He was professor at Purdue University from 2000 to 2021, and served as director of the Purdue University Center for the Environment from 2017 to 2021.

Insitute for Resilient environmental and Energy Systems

In his role as director of IREES, Filley facilitates development of inclusive, equitable, and resilient solutions to critical sustainability challenges through convergent research, interdisciplinary education, and transformative partnerships. IREES connects OU scholars from across our three campuses with national, regional, and place-based partners to understand the multiple interacting dimensions of transformational change and apply that knowledge to strengthen and empower communities, create new economic opportunities, and enable environmental improvement. Our current efforts are focused on building projects and programs in three main themes: Low-Carbon Energy & Infrastructure, Sustainable Societies, and Earth Systems & Global Change.

Latin America Sustainability Initiative

Building on a long history of leadership and demonstrated success in global engagement, in 2022 Filley established the Latin America Sustainability Initiative within IREES to catalyze, support and scale collaborations with partners in Latin America focused on addressing complex environmental, human health, and societal challenges across the hemisphere.

LASI has negotiated 8 MOUs with universities and industry partners in Peru, Spain and Chile. LASI established the Global Change and Human Health (GCHH) Institute, a bilateral exchange program to facilitate collaboration between the University of Oklahoma and the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin (UNSA). The GCHH Institute is located on the UNSA campus in Arequipa, Peru, and administered jointly by the Office of the Vice Rector for Research at UNSA and OU’s IREES. This novel arrangement facilitates co-development of the research, administrative, and technical infrastructure needed to support multi-year collaborations and further strengthen cross-cultural connections.

Arequipa Nexus Institute

Established in 2017, Filley was the architect and founding director of the Arequipa Nexus Institute, a large-scale research, education and innovation partnership between UNSA and Purdue University designed to help position UNSA as a leader of sustainable development in Latin America. The UNSA-Purdue partnership was initiated with a network of 21 interrelated, interdisciplinary research projects and supporting infrastructure designed to identify regional interdependencies among food, water, and energy systems, and explore tradeoffs between land use and the environment in the Arequipa region of Peru. Over 60 Purdue faculty and postdoctoral scholars, 97 UNSA faculty, and dozens of undergraduate students were supported by this effort. In January 2021, Filley negotiated a 5-year continuation of the partnership.

Filley oversaw, with UNSA collaborator Juan Lopa, Ph.D., the completion of the new Nexus Stable Isotope Geochemistry laboratory—the first such laboratory in the public university system in Peru, and serves as the technical advisor to the lab. FIlley is a visiting professor in the Department of Chemistry at UNSA.

Research and Teaching

Filley’s research and teaching are centered on the fundamental processes controlling carbon and nitrogen cycling in both natural and managed ecosystems. Most recently, his research focuses on understanding soil dynamics including within intensively managed landscapes stretching from the coastal irrigated deserts in Peru to the Amazon rainforest; from the Southern Plains grasslands to the agricultural fields of the glaciated Midwest region of the United States. A primary goal of this work is to develop a stronger scientific basis for modeling soil organic matter dynamics, ecosystem and critical zone processes, and the global carbon cycle.

In 2023, Filley developed and directs the OU Stable Isotope Measurement (SIM) facility, a core analytical facility within the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships. The SIM provides stable isotope analytical instrumentation and technical expertise to the environmental, climate, agricultural, and health sciences research communities.

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