William Doolittle hold the Erich W. Zimmermann Regents professorship in Geography. Based on his research on pre-Columbian agrarian landscapes in Mexico and the American Southwest, he has contributed theoretically to the historical study of agrarian landscapes. His book "Cultivated Landscapes of Native North America" has fundamentally changed the view of what North America looked like before European colonization.
His research interests include landscapes, histories, and agricultural technologies in arid lands, particularly the American Southwest and Mexico. He is actively engaged with three long-term projects: "Forests to Fields," monitoring environmental and land use change associated with agriculture in the northwest Mexico; "Bridging Troubled Waters," investigating the transfer of knowledge pertaining to water control from Renaissance Spain to Viceregal Mexico, and the merger of these technologies with those developed indigenously; and "EarthShapers," developing theories of landscape evolution involving the agency and import of individuals.
Doolittle is author of more than 70 publications, including four books: "The Safford Valley Grids: Prehistoric Cultivation in the Southern Arizona Desert" (2004), "Cultivated Landscapes of Native North America" (2000),
"Canal Irrigation in Prehistoric Mexico: The Sequence of Technological Change" (1990) , and "Prehistoric Occupance in the Valley of Sonora: Archaeological Confirmation of Early Spanish Reports" (1988).