John Adams

Deputy Director & Chief Operating Officer
Biosphere 2
Portrait of John Adams, Director, Biosphere 2


Insights from Biosphere 2 about Biosphere 1 and Beyond

Tuesday, March 14, 2:30 p.m.

Surround Stage

JOHN and JOOST'S TALK, Insights from Biosphere 2 about Biosphere 1 and Beyond

Watch John & Joost's talk on YOUTUBE:


If you wish to study the underlying causes of a specific disease, you start by examining an animal model that would simulate the human condition. If you want to study a subset of geological events on earth, Biosphere 1 , you might design a miniature system, but what do you do if you want to study the earth’s entire complex geology, environment, and ecology?  Well, you build Biosphere 2. And so, in 1987 a vision was born, to assemble steel, concrete, soil, sea water, and plants to build a model of Biosphere 1 consisting of five biomes and 8 humans who would live for two years.  While this unprecedented, experiment’s outcomes were not what was anticipated, the idea was sound, the concepts testable, the facility unique, and the science eventually became rigorous, exciting, and yielding results applicable not only to our own earth, but also to possibilities of imitating Biosphere 1 extra terrestrially. Today, B2 is the largest earth science living laboratory in which precise scientific explorations are underway as part of the University of Arizona’s mission.


For two decades, John Adams has helped drive the evolution of Biosphere 2. Starting in 1995, he lead the terrestrial research initiatives exploring the effect of elevated CO2 on the complex mesocosms of Biosphere 2. Building on his deep knowledge of the facility and its science, Adams became Biosphere 2's Media Coordinator and Public Spokesperson in 1999, fielding inquiries from around the world, building public understanding of the University's groundbreaking earth systems science research and developing its K-12 education programs (Passport to Learning™).

Adams' experience and vision filled critical roles throughout that period in several key positions, culminating in his being named Assistant Director of Planning and Facilities, a mantle he held for seven years. In 2014, Adams advanced to his current leadership role of Biosphere 2 Deputy Director. In part, the promotion marked a return to his roots, engaging as a key member of the team that plans and directs all research and related activities inside Biosphere 2 and the surrounding campus.