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Leah Gibbons

Leah Gibbons

Instructor, School of Sustainability

School of Sustainability
Arizona State University
PO Box 875502
Tempe, AZ 85287-5502


  • Instructor, School of Sustainability


I am a scholar, practitioner, and teacher of sustainable, ecological design and development. My focus is on regenerative development and design. I work with communities at all scales to co-create continually higher levels of health and vitality.  
As a scholar-practitioner, my work involves examining how socio-ecological (i.e., living) systems can be designed, planned, and developed to be optimally healthy for all life and to catalyze vitality across scales. My research and practice address two themes:

  1. How and to what extent regenerative development and design frameworks and processes work to shift people's thinking and consciousness to understand, experience, and manifest the connectedness amongst all life in a system;
  2. How and to what extent regenerative development and design outcomes shift living systems towards increasing systemic health and vitality.

Within these two themes, I examine what common success factors, challenges, and approaches to overcome challenges are. I use mixed-method qualitative and quantitative approaches to create transferable, actionable knowledge bridging the knowledge-action gap in sustainability, design, planning, and development. I have created the Regenerative Community Development Framework to guide regenerative processes at a variety of scales. The Framework includes an RCD Process Tool, Integral Perceiving Tool, and RCD Evaluation Tool. Used together, my research indicates that the Framework can facilitate shifts in thinking and development and design outcomes to be more holistic and regenerative. I am Principal and co-founder at Koru Collaborative, a regenerative development
and design (design-build) consulting firm. This role builds on my 20+ years of experience and expertise in the fields of sustainability consulting, green and natural building, landscape design, restoration ecology, invasion biology, and holistic health coaching. At Koru, we bring together integrative, experienced teams of practitioners and communities to intentionally co-create thriving living systems at all scales. I am also Chief Executive Officer of Regenerative Living Institute, a non-profit devoted to co-creating regenerative communities from the scale of neighborhoods to regions. I envision a world in which a holistic paradigm guides decisions and relationships to manifest a thriving, abundant, healthy, and beautiful reality for all life. Indeed, this is already being done on small scales all over the world, with many initiatives exploring how it can be done on large scales. Making connections between these efforts and supporting more such efforts on larger scales (e.g., cities and regions) will be key moving forward.

Teaching Assistant Experience

  • Biology
  • Ecology

Research Assistant Experience

  • Molecular Biology - DNA isolation and sequencing
  • Community Ecology - nutrient cycling and food web relationships
  • Conservation Biology - habitat conservation plan creation


  • PhD, Sustainability, Arizona State University, 2019
  • MS, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, 2002
  • BS, Biology and Anthropology, Vanderbilt University, 1998
  • Certified Holistic Health Coach, Institute for Integrative Nutrition
  • Wetland Delineation Certificate
  • Prescribed Burn Certificate


External Links

Journal Articles


Gibbons, L. V. and D. Simberloff. 2005. Interaction of hybrid imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta X S. richteri with native ants at baits in southeastern Tennessee. Southwestern Naturalist 4(2):303-320. (link )


Simberloff, D. and L. V. Gibbons. 2004. Now you see them, now you don't! Population crashes of established introduced species. Biological Invasions 6(2):161-172. DOI: 10.1023/B:BINV.0000022133.49752.46. (link )

Book Chapters


Berejnoi, E., R. Ulluwishewa, S. Cloutier, L. Gibbons, S. Puga, A. Uthumange and R. Phillips. 2019. Chapter 11. Spirituality: The missing link of sustainability and happiness as a framework for holistic development. Pp. 203-224 In: Kee, Y. and S. J. Lee eds., Perspectives on Community Well-Being. Springer International Publishing. ISBN: 978-3-030-15115-7.



Gibbons, L. V. 1997. Fluctuating asymmetry in scorpions on desert islands as an indicator of environmental stress. Poster presented at the Undergraduate Research Presentations, September 1997, Vanderbilt University.

Conference Papers


Gibbons, L. V. 2001. Quantitative assessment of interference and exploitative competition between native ants and invasive fire ants. Pp. 38-49 Proceedings of the 2001 Annual Imported Fire Ant Research Conference. 2001 Annual Imported Fire Ant Research Conference. San Antonio, Texas.

Thesis (Masters)


Gibbons, L. V. 2002. Assessment of competition between hybrid imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta X S. richteri, and native ants in southeastern Tennessee. MS. University of Tennessee.

Graduate Fellowship, Arizona State University

Graduate Research Grant, University of Tennessee

Undergraduate Research Grant, Vanderbilt University