The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Daniel Griffin awarded 2012 William G. McGinnies Scholarship

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Selection Committee is proud to announce Daniel Griffin, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Geography and Development at the University of Arizona, as the 2012 finalist and 36th Awardee of the William G. McGinnies Graduate Scholarship in Arid Lands Studies.

Dan arrived at the UA in 2008 with a B.S. in Earth Sciences and a M.A. in Geography. As an undergraduate, he was a recipient of an Undergraduate Research Fellowship (2001) and a National Science Foundation Research Experience for the Undergraduate (NSF REU) for Mexican Dendroclimatology at the University of Arkansas Tree-Ring Lab (2002). At the UA, Dan has received a Graduate Research Fellowship in the Biosphere 2 Science and Society Program (2009) and a Graduate Research Fellowship awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Science To Achieve Results (EPA STAR) Program (2010). Dan has mentored over one dozen undergraduate research assistants and was officially recognized by the UA College of Science as an outstanding student teacher and mentor. He has been active in environmental research across North America, including repeat photography of old-growth forests in Oklahoma, studies of hydroclimatic variability in California, and deciphering the processes behind seasonal rainfall and decadal drought in the American Southwest. To date, Dan has participated in 15 peer-reviewed publications. After graduation, he will go on to a tenure-track assistant professor position in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Later this spring Dan will defend his doctoral thesis entitled “North American monsoon paleoclimatology from tree rings.” Dan’s dissertation is central to a larger project that is the first comprehensive tree-ring study of North American monsoon variability for the American Southwest. The research team has developed methods for using the late summer growth of a tree-ring, or ‘latewood,’ as a proxy for monsoon precipitation. They have analyzed nearly 1,000,000 tree-rings from 2,500 trees across the region. Dan is lead author on a forthcoming Geophysical Research Letters piece entitled “North American monsoon precipitation reconstructed from tree-ring latewood” ( This new reconstruction of monsoon rainfall extends over the last 470 years and reveals monsoon failure more persistent and extreme than any events from the modern instrumental era.  Forthcoming work demonstrates the capacity for tree rings to reflect both temporal and spatial variability in season-specific precipitation in the Desert Southwest. For more information, visit the Monsoon Project webpage ( and Dan’s homepage (