Annual Awards Presented to DRI Faculty and Staff at 2023 Celebration of Science

DRI Recognizes the Achievements and Dedication of Eleven Scientists and Staff Members

On September 26 & 28, DRI held awards and recognition ceremonies at our Reno and Las Vegas campuses to honor eleven scientists and staff members for their achievements. Along with the below awardees, several faculty and staff were recognized for their long-term service to DRI for up to 25 years. DRI prides itself on fostering a fulfilling workplace that builds internal community and inspires scientific discovery.

Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence: Tiffany Pereira, M.S.

Tiffany Pereira, M.S., has been an ecologist with DRI since August 2017. Her research areas of expertise include flora and fauna interactions, seed and germination ecology, rare plant ecology, soil seed banks, and restoration ecology. As both a researcher and artist, she is also interested in graphic design and illustration for science communication. Pereira is running a growing environmental management program out of DRI’s Las Vegas office.

“I’m so honored to receive this award,” Pereira said. “I want to give a shoutout to Tim Minor, Lynn Fenstermaker, Julie Miller, and Philippe Vidon for their mentorship and guidance.”

Photo of Tiffany Pereira accepting her award remotely via Teams.

About the award: The Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence recognizes outstanding scientific accomplishments of DRI faculty in the early stages of their careers. The Medal is given on the basis of scientific and service achievement that brings recognition to the scientist and DRI. The two major criteria are the quality of publications and peer recognition, which can include program development and scientific achievement.

DRI Science Medal: Andrey Khlystov, Ph.D.

Khlystov has provided significant, sustained contributions to the field of air quality characterization of organic gases and aerosols. He has also bestowed a cumulative body of work that has greatly advanced the scientific understanding of methods and processes in air quality characterization and has culminated in bringing into practice the fruits of his basic and applied research work. Khlystov has served as the director of the organic analytical lab since 2015, where he directs a group of approximately ten researchers.

Andrey has received numerous awards and honors during his career, including the new investigator best abstract award, an NSF CAREER award, and RTI highly published author designation. He was also an invited keynote speaker at the 25th international conference on aerosol science and technology. Andrey is also part of the Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Program where he has taught several courses since 2016 and has served on multiple thesis and dissertation committees for graduate students. In the latest ranking of the world’s top environmental scientists published by he is ranked #9 among all DRI scientists present and past.

“It’s a great honor and really humbling,” Khlystov said. “This is a very important award and I’d like to thank everybody who helped me throughout the years: my colleagues, students, and lab members. DRI is the best place for collaboration.”

Photo of Andrey Khlystov accepting his award.

About the award: The DRI Science Medal is awarded annually to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding research achievements. This award builds on the history of the Count Alessandro Dandini Medal of Science – which annually recognized the highest scientific achievement by a DRI faculty member. The DRI Science Medal is given on the basis of scientific achievement that has brought recognition to both the winning scientist and to DRI, either cumulative or through a singular outstanding achievement.

DRI Service Medal: Wayne Dolbeare

As the Lead Custodian Building Maintainer at DRI’s Reno campus, Dolbeare is usually the last person to leave after any event, and he takes pride in ensuring the Reno campus is in top shape.

Dolbeare’s dedication is evident to everyone working on or visiting our campus, and his attention to detail, thoughtfulness, and efficiency are vital in keeping DRI running smoothly. Beyond his job duties, Wayne takes genuine care and interest in making DRI a great place to work. With his sense of humor and friendly demeanor, Wayne makes the Reno campus an inviting and upbeat environment.

Dolbeare’s award nomination from a fellow DRI employee closed with: “Throughout his 17-year long career at DRI, Wayne has embodied the spirit of kindness, hard work, and service. Wayne is an asset to DRI. He deserves to be recognized with the DRI Service Award for his outstanding service to the Reno campus and the Institute!”

“It’s an honor and privilege to receive this award,” Dolbeare said. “The people at DRI are great to work with, and it’s an honor and privilege to help everybody in any way they need.”

Photo of Wayne Dolbeare accepting his award.

About the award: The DRI Service Medal honors an individual’s broader impact across the Institution and throughout our communities. This person has worked to make DRI a better place to work and secure our place as a leader in environmental science and research.

DRI Outstanding Contributions Medal: Judith Chow, Sc.D.

During her 38 years at DRI, Dr. Chow has made many outstanding contributions. She has developed and launched numerous programs and facilities, secured multi-year sponsored projects, and recruited and mentored staff. She has authored and co-authored more than 600 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers, along with more than 260 technical reports. She is included in the top 100 environmental scientists worldwide by, as well as the top 2% of Stanford University’s list of the World’s Most Cited Scientists.

Dr. Chow founded DRI’s Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF) soon after her arrival in 1985, beginning with a single beaker. The EAF has been and continues to be an integral part of DRI’s research infrastructure that supports projects within the Division of Atmospheric Sciences, with other DRI Divisions, and with external researchers. Dr. Chow’s work on the preservation of the Terra Cotta army gained international attention and raised awareness of DRI. In 2023, Judy submitted, along with Dr. Monica Arienzo, a successful NSF Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) proposal to obtain a Photoionization-Time of Flight Mass Spectrometer that will enhance DRI’s research in microplastics, wildfire smoke, and bioaerosol contamination in air, water, and soil samples.

Dr. Chow was appointed to the U.S. EPA’s seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee from 2015 to 2018, and re-appointed in 2021 to 2024, to evaluate U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards. She sat on Harvard University’s Advisory Panel for its Air, Climate and Energy Center, and has served on several National Academy of Sciences Committees.

Her accomplishments have been honored with external awards including the ARB’s Haagen-Smit Clean Air Award, the Air and Waste Management Association’s Frank Chambers Excellence in Air Pollution Control, Charles Gruber Association Leadership, and Honorary Member Awards, and China’s Sanqin Friendship Award.

“I appreciate the award and recognition,” Chow said. “It has been a long journey, with ups and downs… This award would not be possible without major contributions from my colleagues and team members. Our EAF team works like a family, and together we try to provide solutions to environmental problems.”

Photo of Judith Chow accepting her award.

About the award: This internal award is given annually to a DRI faculty or staff member for outstanding contributions to the Institution. There are many ways beyond scientific achievement that individuals can elevate DRI. This award is given on the basis of a singular or cumulative contribution to DRI. Evidence of contributions can include establishing new directions for research, securing a large grant, or management of large programs.

DRI Foundation Faculty Award for Outstanding Public Engagement in Science: Meghan Collins, M.S.

Meghan Collins’ passion for making science accessible and engaging for the public is evident by her dedicated efforts to grow the existing citizen science projects at DRI, her creative pursuit of opportunities to make participation in science accessible to communities on both national and local scales, and by her strides to develop and share best practices for public engagement with other researchers.She has worked to grow participation in projects like Mountain Rain or Snow by making the program meaningful for those involved.

Collins strives to make participation in research accessible for communities throughout the country. Here in Nevada, she leads DRI’s Research Immersion Internship Program, which provides students from NSHE’s community and state colleges with opportunities to gain hands-on experience in STEM research and guidance for navigating a scientific workplace.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to accept this award,” Collins said. “Science and society partnerships are inherently collaborative, and they’re inherently aspirational. We always have more work to do. In the 8 years that I’ve been at DRI, the appetite for science engagement both by public audiences and by my colleagues has only grown. I think that’s a testament to the importance of this work.”

Photo of Meghan Collins accepting her award.

About the award: The DRI Foundation was founded in 1982 with the objective of maximizing DRI’s global environmental impact by securing philanthropic funding, promoting DRI to various constituencies, and expanding DRI’s reach. For the past 40 years, the Foundation has helped bridge the science that happens at DRI with the public.

In recognition of the important role that DRI scientists play in strengthening this bridge, the DRI Foundation established the DRI Foundation Faculty Award to recognize a scientist who has contributed to enhancing the public’s engagement with science, increasing scientific literacy, or translating the societal impact of scientific research for non-science audiences.

The Board of Regent’s Rising Researcher Award: Christine Albano, Ph.D.

Christine Albano’s research focuses on understanding the impacts of atmospheric rivers and other extreme atmospheric events on the hydrology of landscapes over time. She began at DRI as a Ph.D. student and dedicated her dissertation work to improving our understanding of how atmospheric rivers impact water storage and flood risk in the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin regions.

Albano has continued to expand her research interests, using her background in conservation biology and ecology to connect extreme hydrologic events to impacts on ecosystems in new and novel ways. In 2022, she published ground-breaking work quantifying changes in evaporative demand across the U.S. over the last 20 years, and the implications for irrigated agriculture. Her publication record includes 28 peer-reviewed journal articles and reports. She also contributes to mentoring the next generation of scientists by serving on the Graduate Program in Hydrologic Sciences faculty and teaching advanced climatology in UNR’s graduate program of hydrologic sciences.

“I’m incredibly honored,” Albano said. “DRI has been an ideal place for me to land as a researcher. I’m encouraged to do applied research, and I’ve had incredible support from colleagues, from mentors, and from the administration. I’m very happy to be here and look forward to continuing to grow my career here.”

Photo of Christine Albano accepting her award.

About the award: The NSHE Board of Regents’ Rising Researcher Award is bestowed upon one faculty member at each Nevada research institution in recognition of their early-career accomplishments and potential for future advancement and recognition in research.

In addition to the award from the Board of Regents, this year’s Rising Researcher from DRI will also receive $5,000 from the DRI Foundation to support their research endeavors.

Graduate Advisor of the Year: Farnaz Hosseinpour, Ph.D.

Each year, DRI asks our graduate students to nominate advisors they think worthy for the DRI Graduate Student Advisor of the Year. The faculty nominated this year are Farnaz Hosseinpour, Vera Samburova, and Benjamin Hatchett. The winning nomination this year wrote: “…Her motivation and encouragement serve as inspiration for us to continue our learning journey. In essence, Farnaz’s advising embodies the qualities of expertise, individualization, assessment, goal setting, feedback, resource recommendations, ongoing support, and motivation. This comprehensive approach facilitates growth not only in knowledge and writing but also in other areas of development.”

Dr. Hosseinpour is the Graduate Faculty and Associate Director of the Atmospheric Science Graduate Program at UNR. She developed and taught several graduate-level courses, including Satellite Remote Sensing and Graduate Seminar courses at UNR. She is currently the advisor of 3 Ph.D. students. At DRI, she is Director of the Statistical data analysis and Modeling of Atmosphere for Research and AI Technology (SMART) Lab.

“I’m honored and humbled to be the recipient of this award,” Dr. Hosseinpour said. “It’s an encouraging reminder for me to continue this journey of advising and mentoring our students for the next generation of the scientific community.”

E.L. Cord Foundation Diversity Graduate Research Assistantship: Olufunke Dina

Olufunke Dina is a graduate student in the Division of Atmospheric Sciences working on human biomarker analysis to understand the impacts of environmental pollutant exposures. She successfully developed her own analytical method to study inorganic metal exposure from household dust. Olufunke moved to Reno from Nigeria and joined DRI in the 2023 Spring semester.

Dina successfully completed an oral presentation entitled “Heavy Metal Exposures among 6 months to 6 years old Children in Northern Nevada” at the 2023 Nevada Public Health Association conference.

Photo of Olufunke Dina accepting her award.

About the award: The Diversity Graduate Research Assistantship is a new award made possible by the support of the E.L. Cord Foundation. The E.L. Cord Foundation has a been a longtime donor of DRI and supports this assistantship to help advance the educational and research pursuits of a graduate student that shows both high potential for achievement and is from a community that has been traditionally underrepresented in the sciences.

The George Burke Maxey Hydrology/Hydrogeology Fellowships

  • Incoming Student Ryan Shaver, who is advised by Rishi Parashar, Ph.D.
    Shaver’s research will focus on modeling how groundwater flows and transports entities through fractured bedrock.
  • Current student Rachel Kozloski, who is advised by Monica Arienzo, Ph.D.
    Kozloski’s research focuses on the movement and characteristics of microplastics in ground and surface water. She recently received a prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Award from the National Science Foundation.
  • Current student Drake McCrimmon, who is advised by Nathan Chellman, Ph.D. McCrimmon is a geochemist studying Earth’s past climate by examining glacial ice.

About the award: The award has been established in the honor of Dr. George B. Maxey, former Executive Director of the Division of Hydrologic Sciences, and Jane C. Maxey, his wife. This year, the award was expanded to up to four individual awards to graduate students, two for incoming students and two for continuing students.

View all of the photos from the celebration below:

2023 COS_5

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