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|Dr. Paul Verburg to be honored with DRI's 2005 Wagner 'Young Scientist' award|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 3, 2005
RENO, Nev. – Desert Research Institute scientist Dr. Paul Verburg has been selected to receive DRI's 2005 Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence, an award for outstanding scientific accomplishments by DRI faculty in the early stages of their careers.
Dr. Verburg's research involves understanding how ecosystems respond to environmental change, specifically focusing on soil. By examining carbon pool levels in soils and measuring rates at which carbon is processed in the soil through plants, organic matter, minerals and even tiny creatures called microbes, he can get a better idea if soils will be a source or a sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide when the climate changes. Dr. Verburg's research projects have addressed diverse scientific issues, such as nutrient cycling in forests, the effects of fire and land use on soil nutrient dynamics in the Truckee River watershed and Lake Tahoe basin and the influence of climate variability in tallgrass prairie. His research is conducted right in DRI's backyard in its state-of-the-art EcoCELL facility as well as at a unique area on the Nevada Test Site outside Las Vegas which houses the Free-Air-Carbon dioxide-Enrichment, or FACE, facility and Mojave Global Change Facility.
Verburg joined DRI as a postdoctoral research associate in 1998 and moved into the faculty ranks in 2000. In a ceremony at DRI on Friday, Verburg will receive a $1,250 prize and a minted medal for the award, named in honor of DRI atmospheric scientist Peter Wagner who died in the crash of a research aircraft in 1980. The Wagners' daughter, Kristina, will present the award at the ceremony.
According to Executive Director Mike Auerbach, of DRI's earth and ecosystems science division, "Paul has achieved a stellar research record including many high quality publications and presentations. He has also garnered a very significant level of funding support, been active in training graduate students and shown leadership in service to DRI and his profession." Dr. Verburg's studies of soil science and corresponding publications have produced important policy implications such as the finding that a key recommendation of the Kyoto Protocols regarding measuring carbon levels in soil may not be scientifically justified, Auerbach said.
Peter B. Wagner's widow, Sue Wagner, a Nevada Gaming Commission member and former Nevada Lieutenant Governor, established the award in 1998. She also established the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences, an annual national award to encourage women to study in that field.
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