Impactful science, inspiring solutions.
The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied environmental research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students who work alongside them, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects around the globe.
Since 1959, DRI’s research has advanced scientific knowledge on topics ranging from humans’ impact on the environment to the environment’s impact on humans. DRI’s impactful science and inspiring solutions support Nevada’s diverse economy, provide science-based educational opportunities, and inform policymakers, business leaders, and community members.
With campuses in Las Vegas and Reno, DRI serves as the non-profit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education.
Research & Education
Research and services related to air quality and associated health risks, climate, cloud and aerosol physics, renewable energy, fire science, and atmospheric dynamics.
Research, development, and education services contributing to society’s fundamental understanding of hydrologic systems and advancing the sustainability of water resources.
Earth & Ecosystem Sciences
Research in the life and earth sciences, particularly those dealing with the complex interactions of geological processes, organisms, biological communities, and human societies.
Our Faculty and Staff
DRI’s faculty members are nontenured, entrepreneurial and responsible for their own salaries from external grants and contracts. This blend of academic rigor and private-sector pragmatism has earned DRI a reputation for delivering rapid, high-quality environmental science in a businesslike fashion.
Mission & Vision
We excel in basic and applied research and the application of technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world. We implement this mission by fostering scientific and engineering talent. We apply scientific understanding to the effective management of natural resources while meeting Nevada’s needs for economic diversification and science-based educational opportunities.
We seek to be the world’s scientific leader investigating the effects of natural and human-induced environmental change and advancing environmental technologies aimed at assessing a changing planet. We will achieve this vision by increasing scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth’s environment, promoting preservation of diverse ecosystems, advancing responsible resource management, and improving human health and welfare.
Established in 1959
“To contribute more effectively to the security of the nation and to promote the general welfare of the State of Nevada and its citizens through the development of educational and scientific research, the Board of Regents may establish for educational and scientific research a facility within the System to be known as the Desert Research Institute.”
The primary purposes of the Institute are to:
Foster and conduct fundamental scientific, economic, social or educational investigations and applied research for industry, governmental or private agencies or individuals;
Encourage and foster a desire in students and faculty to conduct research;
Discover and develop talent for conducting research;
Acquire and disseminate knowledge related to the projects undertaken; and
Promote all research within the System generally.
In 1959, the Nevada State Legislature passed Nevada Revised Statue (NRS) 396.795, creating a division of the University of Nevada system specifically devoted to conducting research. From this legislative action, a small group of farsighted scientists, academic leaders, and entrepreneurs created the Desert Research Institute (DRI), a unique organization that combines the classic academic tradition of high-quality basic research with the productive focus of applied, interdisciplinary research.