Wagner Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences

About the Wagner Award

Ms. Sue Wagner—Nevada Gaming Commissioner, former Nevada Lieutenant Governor, DRI employee, and widow of Dr. Peter B. Wagner—created the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences in 1998.

Peter Wagner

Dr. Peter B. Wagner, an atmospheric scientist who had been a faculty member at the Desert Research Institute since 1968, was killed while conducting research in a 1980 plane crash that also claimed the lives of three other Institute employees.

In 1981, Dr. Wagner’s family and friends established a memorial scholarship to provide promising graduate students in the Desert Research Institute’s Atmospheric Sciences Program a cash award to further their professional careers. Ms. Wagner later extended that opportunity nationally and specifically for women, through the creation of the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award in 1998.

The Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences is based on a paper competition and awarded to a woman pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences or a related program at a university in the United States. The amount of the award is $1,500.


To be eligible, applicants must be pursuing a Masters or Ph.D. in a program of atmospheric sciences or a related field as of the application deadline date. Applicants must submit a paper based on original research directly related to the identification, clarification, or resolution of an atmospheric or climatic problem.

Selection Criteria

The Selection Committee is composed of faculty from the Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Program. Papers will be evaluated based on the following content areas:

  • Originality of ideas expressed and presentation of concept;
  • How well the subject matter relates to real-world atmospheric or climatic problems or their resolution; and
  • How well the research is defined by the introduction, methods, results, and conclusions of the manuscript.

An entry into this competition can be based on a manuscript that has been either submitted, accepted for publication, or appeared in press within the past 12 month before the application deadline. Authors are encouraged to address broader impacts of their work for the field of atmospheric sciences. Manuscripts submitted for consideration for this award should be a report of work done primarily by the applicant. The applicant should be the first author but not necessarily the single author. The submitted manuscript should be in a form acceptable for publication in a scientific journal. Length should be no more than 15 pages of double-spaced text, exclusive of figures, title page, and references using minimum 12-point font. Reprints of published papers will be accepted if it appeared in press within the past 12 months. Submitted manuscripts will be reviewed by the Award Selection Committee.

An applicant should submit a PDF file of the full manuscript and a cover letter describing her graduate program of study by email to Vera Samburova vera.samburova@dri.edu.

Updated Deadline: May 7th, 2020

Dr. Vera Samburova
Chair of the Selection Committee
Wagner Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences
e-mail: vera.samburova@dri.edu

2018 Winner and Finalists

Winner: Isabel McCoy
Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington
Her winning paper: “Identifying Meteorological Controls on Open and Closed Mesoscale Cellular Convection Associated with Marine Cold Air Outbreaks”

Finalist: Lauren T. Fleming
Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine
Her paper: “Molecular composition of particulate matter emissions from dung and brushwood burning household cookstoves in Haryana, India”

Finalist: Julia Montoya-Aguilera
Department of Chemistry, University of California, Irvine
“Secondary organic aerosol from atmospheric photooxidation of indole”

Click the cover of the ceremony brochure to learn about past winners of the Wagner Award and where they are now.


Vera Samburova, Ph.D.
Chair of the Wagner Selection Committee


Desert Research Institute
2215 Raggio Parkway
Reno, NV 89512


Atmospheric Sciences