Tenure-Track Faculty

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Nicholas P Dunning

Nicholas P Dunning

Title: Professor, Assistant Head
Office: 401 Braunstein Hall
Tel: 513-556-3436
Email: nicholas.dunning@uc.edu


  • PhD, University of Minnesota, 1990.
  • MA, University of Chicago, 1983.
  • B.A., University of Chicago, 1980.


Research Areas: Environmental archaeology, soils, physical geography, cultural ecology, Latin America

Dr. Nicholas Dunning grew up on the Island of Oahu in Hawaii, where he developed a fascination with tropical environments and cultural adaptation. By virtue of once having picked up the wrong book in the library (and reading it anyway), he developed a passionate interest in Maya civilization. Dunning has spent the past 30 years studying the intriguing environment of the Maya Lowlands and the nature of human environmental adaptations, both past and present, in this region. Along the way, he earned BA and MA degrees from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the University of Minnesota, all in geography. Dunning has authored two books and some 70 articles and book chapters on the Maya world. More recently he has begun an extended program of research in the West Indies. Occasionally, he does research in eastern North America, the eastern Mediterranean, and Oceania. Dunning’s students affectionately (he hopes) refer to him as “Dr. Dirt,” because of his fascination with soil.

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 5149 - Geography of Wine
  • GEOG 5154 - Soils

Selected Publications

  • Dunning, N., R. Griffin, T. Sever, W. Saturno, and J. Jones. 2016 Forthcoming (in press). “The Nature and Origin of Linear Features in the Bajo de Azúcar, Guatemala: Implications for Ancient Maya Adaptations to a Changing Environment.” Geoarchaeology.
  • Beach, T., S. Luzzadder-Beach, S. Krause, N. Brokaw, N. P. Dunning, J. Flood, T. Guderjan, F.Valdez, and S. Walling. 2015 “Mayacene” Floodplain and Wetland Formation in the Rio Bravo Watershed, Northwestern Belize. The Holocene 25:1612-1626.
  • Dunning, N., C. McCane, T. Swinney, M. Purtill, J. Sparks, A. Mann, J-P. McCool, and C. Ivenso. 2015. “Geoarchaeological Investigations in Mesoamerica move into the 21st Century: a Review.” Geoarchaeology 30: 167-199.
  • Dunning, N. “Altar 2, Nohpat, Yucatan.” Mexicon 35 (2013): 134-136.
  • Dunning, N., T. Beach, L. Grazioso Sierra, J. Jones, D. Lentz, S. Luzzadder-Beach, V. Scarborough, and M. Smyth, “Historia de dos colapsos: Variabilidad ambiental e interrupción cultural en las Tierras Bajas mayas,” Dialogo Andino 41 (2013): 171-183.

Awards and Honors

  • Association of American Geographers: Robert McC. Netting Award 2015
  • Cincinnati Educational Television: Volunteer of the Year Award 2014

Graduate Students and Postdocs

  • Jeffrey L Brewer
  • Eric M. Weaver