Thomas R. Van Devender was the Senior Research Scientist at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, from 1983 to 2009, where he conducted research on a broad range of natural history activities. Since May 2009 he has been the manager of the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment project at Sky Island Alliance, also in Tucson. He is the author of well over 100 research publications including journal articles, book chapters, and six books on desert grassland, the cacti of Sonora, the Sonoran desert tortoise, and packrat middens and the paleoecology of the southwestern deserts. He is co-editor with Francisco Molina-Freaner of a book titled Diversidad Biológica del Estado de Sonora to be published by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Hermosillo, Sonora in 2010.
Tom has a long-term interest in the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert Region, and has collected over 20,000 herbarium specimens, many of which are deposited into the herbaria at the University of Arizona (Tucson), Universidad de Sonora (Hermosillo), and UNAM (Cd. México). He has surveyed local floras in the Sonoran Desert in the Tucson Mountains and Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona. He has also studied the plants in tropical forests near Alamos in southern Sonora and Mazatlán in southern Sinaloa, and in pine-oak forests near Yécora in the Sierra Madre Occidental in eastern Sonora. He and his wife Ana Lilia Reina-G. have a special interest in the flora of La Frontera, the 100 kilometer zone in northern Sonora just south of the Arizona border -- especially in Chihuahuan desertscrub on limestone, desert grassland, and tropical plants at their northern range limits. He is also a herpetologist with strong interests in the biogeography of the Sky Island Region in the Madrean Archipelago.