Dr. Bales joined the University of California, Merced, as Professor of Engineering in June 2003, and is one of UC Merced's inaugural faculty. Dr. Bales received his B.S. from Purdue University, an M.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and his Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology. He worked as a consulting engineer from 1975 to 1980, prior to his Ph.D., and was Professor of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona from 1984 to 2003. He has published over 100 papers in diverse fields of research including snow hydrology, alpine hydrology and biogeochemistry, polar snow and ice, contaminant hydrology, and water quality. In 2007 he was named Acting Director, and in 2008 Director, of UC Merced's Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
At UC Merced, Dr. Bales organized the Mountain Hydrology Research Group, which is deploying new research instrumentation at several Sierra Nevada sites, and has multiple ongoing, collaborative projects investigating mountain hydrology. He is continuing research in Greenland and Antarctica.
At Arizona Dr. Bales served as director of the UA's NASA-supported Regional Earth Science Applications Center (RESAC) , Deputy Director of the UA's NSF-supported Science and Technology Center on Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA), and Principal Investigator on the UA's NOAA-supported Climate Assessment for the Southwest Project (CLIMAS). He is actively involved in research in the Southwestern U.S., Greenland and Antarctica.
Dr. Bales is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). He serves on a number of advisory committees, and professional society boards.