Meet Alison Swallow, DRI’s 2021 Technical Employee of the Year

Meet Alison Swallow, DRI’s 2021 Technical Employee of the Year

DRI’s Technical Employee of the Year Award

The cutting-edge scientific research that happens at DRI wouldn’t be possible without the Institute’s many technologists: non-faculty employees who have special technical experience and training to support instrumentation design, laboratory and fieldwork, administration, accounting, reception, and facilities.

Each year, faculty, students, and staff have the opportunity to nominate those technologists that they believe go above and beyond to make DRI a great place to work for the Technical Employee of the Year award. From those nominations, a council of technical employees selects the recipient of the award.

This year, the recipient is Alison Swallow, the Project Coordinator for DRI’s Office of External Affairs and Communications, who has served DRI for more than two years. Get to know Alison in this Q&A!

Q&A With Alison Swallow

DRI: How long have you worked here at DRI? How long have you lived in Las Vegas? 

Swallow: I have worked here at DRI for more than two years. I’m originally from Las Vegas – I am a 3rd generation southern Nevadan – however, I have traveled extensively and spent a lot of time outside of Nevada as well. After graduating high school, I moved to Reno for college, and from there went on to live in Ireland, Australia, England, and Tennessee, before finally returning to the Silver State. When I was considering moving back to my hometown of Las Vegas, a friend who works in archaeology at DRI forwarded me this job posting, and then I met the brilliant Communications Team and felt instantly at home.

DRI: What does your work involve? 

Swallow: I am the project coordinator for DRI’s Office of External Affairs and Communications. Over my career, I have had the opportunity to build a broad and diverse skillset, and I love that I am often asked to employ each of these competencies on a daily basis. Along with the ad hoc requests I field, my role here includes planning and implementing events, managing our team’s budget, crafting surveys and forms, archival work, and tracking and analyzing hundreds of bills throughout the biannual legislative sessions.

During this past year, so much has changed at DRI, and many of us have needed to adapt and expand our roles. This too, has been incredibly rewarding and I have enjoyed the new challenges and responsibilities. I have started to do field photography, writing, creative design, and in recent months, have also been managing DRI’s social media accounts.

DRI: What do you like best about working at DRI? 

Swallow: I have always been curious by nature, and I love to learn, which is a quality that I share with so many throughout NSHE. I am amazed by the science at DRI and I find the work of our researchers truly fascinating. All I need to do is walk through our campus and peek into labs to gain a deeper insight into our world. From ice cores to microplastics, there’s so much about the research that happens here that has practical applications for the lives of all Nevadans. I enjoy being around other people who are seeking knowledge, and the corridors of this Institution are filled with brilliant minds.

I also cannot speak highly enough of my incredibly talented colleagues on the Communications team, and our inspiring leader, Tracy Bower. Having a work family that you can always count on to push you toward greater heights, cheer for your accomplishments, and hug you (even virtually) after your failures, is an extraordinary thing, and I cherish it.

DRI: What does it mean to you to receive this recognition? 

Swallow: I am so honored and grateful for this award. It means a lot that people took the time to nominate me, and I’m incredibly appreciative of everyone who did. I am proud to represent a group as diverse and skillful as the technologists of DRI, many of whom were essential workers throughout the pandemic. I am so impressed with the way that all of my colleagues came together to help overcome the difficulties presented by this past year.

DRI: What do you like to do in your free time? 

Swallow: I have a passion for travel – I think I have been to something like 22 countries. France and Italy are on my most-missed list at the moment, and I can’t wait to get back overseas. I love spending time with my family, and my two silly dogs, Max & Zellie, who are a brother/sister pair of rescues. I also enjoy reading, writing, and live theatre.

DRI Honors Outstanding Contributions of Faculty and Staff at 2021 Celebration of Science

DRI Honors Outstanding Contributions of Faculty and Staff at 2021 Celebration of Science

Each year, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) honors the incredible commitment and dedication of our faculty and staff through an award ceremony called the Celebration of Science. This year’s event was held virtually and recognized the winners of this year’s Nevada System of Higher Education Rising Researcher Award, the DRI Medals for Science, Service, and Outstanding Contributions, the Technologist of the Year, as well as internal divisional and milestone service awards.


2021 Award Winners

DRI Science Medal – Xiaoliang Wang, Ph.D.
The DRI Science Medal is given based on scientific achievement that has brought recognition to both the winning scientist and to DRI, through either cumulative or a singular outstanding achievement. This award builds on the history of the Count Alessandro Dandini Medal of Science and the Nazir and Mary Ansari Medal for Excellence in Science, which annually recognized the high scientific accomplishments of a DRI faculty member.

Outstanding Contributions Medal – Tim Brown, Ph.D.
The Outstanding Contributions Medial is given annually to a DRI faculty or staff member for outstanding contributions to the Institution. Evidence of contributions can include establishing new directions for research, securing a large grant, or management of large programs.

Service Medal – Jennifer Schultz
The DRI Service Medal is awarded annually to a faculty or staff member who makes broad impacts across the Institution and throughout our communities, making DRI a better place to work and securing our place as a core research asset.

Technical Employee of the Year – Alison Swallow
The Technical Employee of the Year is awarded annually to a staff member for outstanding contributions to the Institution.

Rising Researcher Award – Daniel McEvoy, Ph.D.
Awarded annually by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding early-career accomplishments in research.


Division Awards

George Burke Maxey Fellowship – Marc Berghouse 

Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence – Monica Arienzo, Ph.D.  

Jonathan O. Davis Scholarship – Erica Bradley and Hayden Kingrey 

General Frederick Lander Scholarship – Pearson Nguyen  

Colin Warden Memorial Endowment - Pramod Adhikari 

Advisor of the Year award – Alison Murray, Ph.D. 


Years of Service Milestones

50 Years of Service

  • Jim Hudson

35 Years of Service

  • Judith Chow

30 Years of Service 

  • Lynn Fenstermaker
  • Hans Moosmuller
  • Ron Hershey
  • Tim Minor
  • Peter Ross

25 Years of Service

  • Steve Kohl
  • Gayle Valdez

20 Years of Service

  • Yvonne Rumbaugh
  • Vicki Hall
  • Richard Susfalk
  • Lynn Karr
  • John Karlas
  • Glen Wilson
  • David Page
  • David Campbell
  • Cheryl Collins
  • Alison Murray

15 Years of Service

  • Steven Bacon
  • Sophie Baker
  • Maureen King
  • Karl Schoen
  • Donna Schlemmer
  • Derek Kauneckis
  • Charles Dolbeare
  • Alan Heyvaert

10 Years of Service 

  • Tatianna Menocal
  • Tamara Wall
  • Suzanne Hudson
  • Robert Read
  • Maria Vasquez
  • Jeffrey Wedding
  • Jason Rada
  • Iva Neveux
  • Eric Wilcox
  • Daniel McEvoy
  • Albert Wolff

5 Years of Service 

  • Xuelian Bai
  • William (Jim) Metcalf
  • Vinay Amin
  • Teresa Wriston
  • Rae Yuhas
  • Nicole Sund
  • Kevin Heintz
  • Karen Stewart
  • John Goetz
  • Joanne Huston
  • Erick Bandala Gonzalez
  • Bruce Lipp

Congratulations to our faculty and staff who were recognized during this year’s Celebration of Science! Perhaps our Special Guest, NSHE Regent Jason Geddes put it best when he said, “DRI is known here in Nevada and around the world as a place where groundbreaking research is conducted, but the greatest asset that DRI has is its people.”

Xiaoliang Wang Receives 2020 Benjamin Y. H. Liu Award for Aerosol Research

Xiaoliang Wang Receives 2020 Benjamin Y. H. Liu Award for Aerosol Research

Reno, Nev. (Oct 7, 2020) – Xiaoliang Wang, Ph.D. of the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nev. is the winner of this year’s Benjamin Y. H. Liu Award from the American Association of Aerosol Research (AAAR). He was recognized for this honor today at a virtual ceremony during the AAAR’s Annual Conference.

Wang, a research professor with DRI’s Division of Atmospheric Science, studies aerosols – tiny solid particles or droplets that are suspended in the air. His research interests include physical and chemical characterization of aerosols, pollution source characterization, air quality measurement, and aerosol instrument development. He is being honored with this award in recognition of his outstanding contributions to aerosol instrumentation and experimental techniques that have significantly advanced the science and technology of aerosols.

Wang is the co-inventor of the nanoparticle aerodynamic lenses and the DustTrak DRX aerosol monitor, an instrument named after him. He developed the new the data inversion algorithms for the TSI Engine Exhaust Particle Sizer Spectrometer (EEPS) for compact shape and soot particles. He led the development of the Aerodynamic Lens Calculator, the DRI portable emissions measurement system, and the DRI Model 2015 multi-wavelength thermal/optical carbon analyzer.

Wang holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota, and B.E. degrees in thermal engineering and environmental engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. He has been a member of the DRI community since 2009.

The award honors Professor Benjamin Liu for his leadership in the aerosol community and his own seminal contributions to aerosol science through instrumentation and experimental research. Professor Liu is a founding father of the AAAR and of the society’s journal, Aerosol Science and Technology, and helped establish the International Aerosol Research Assembly. He received the Fuchs Memorial Award in 1994 and retired as Regents’ Professor from the University of Minnesota in 2002, where he also served as the director of the Particle Technology Laboratory from 1973 to 1997.

DRI Research Professor Xiaoliang Wang received the 2020 Benjamin Y. H. Liu Award in a virtual ceremony during the American Association of Aerosol Research’s Annual Conference on October 7, 2020.

Additional information:

For more information about Xiaoliang Wang and his research, please visit: https://www.dri.edu/directory/xiaoliang-wang/

For more information about the Benjamin Y.H. Liu Award, please visit: https://www.aaar.org/awards/annual-awards/benjamin-y-h-liu-award/ 

Meet Julie Albright, DRI’s Technologist of the Year

Meet Julie Albright, DRI’s Technologist of the Year

The cutting-edge scientific research that happens at DRI wouldn’t be possible without the Institute’s many technologists: non-faculty employees who have special technical experience and training to support instrumentation design, laboratory and fieldwork, administration, accounting, reception, and facilities.

Each year, faculty, students, and staff have the opportunity to nominate those technologists they believe go above and beyond to make DRI a great place to work for the Technical Employee of the Year award. From those nominations, a council of technical employees selects the recipient of the award. This year, the recipient is Julie Albright, the program specialist for DRI’s Office of Education.

Get to know Julie in this Q&A!

DRI: How long have you worked here at DRI? How long have you lived in Reno?

Julie Albright: I moved to Reno in 2002 to attend UNR and never left. I’m actually a third generation northern Nevadan, born and raised in Carson City. I’ve worked at DRI for 1 year, starting in November 2018. Before that, I spent 13 years working with a financial advisory team.

DRI: What does your work involve?

JA: I am the Program Specialist for the Office of Education and Assistant Vice President of Academic and Faculty Affairs.  The most noteworthy bites of the position entail processing expenses, streamlining office operations, keeping projects on track, and coordinating faculty and student events.

DRI: What do you like best about working at DRI?

JA: The people! I believe DRI is a great place to work because of the people. I enjoy working with people who are passionate about what they do and driven to see themselves, their division, and our institute as a whole succeed.

DRI: What does it mean to you to receive this recognition?

JA: I’m extremely grateful and honored to be receiving the Technologist of the Year Award. There are so many fantastic technologists at DRI, I’m surprised and humbled to have been chosen for this award. Without the training and ongoing support from technologists across our institution, there is no way I would be able to succeed as I have working for the Office of Education and AVPAFA.

DRI: What do you like to do in your free time?

JA: I enjoy amateur nature photography, traveling, reading, and baking.

DRI Internal Award Winners 2019

DRI Internal Award Winners 2019

At our annual Celebration of Science event in September 2019, we recognized our incredible DRI family. In addition to honoring faculty and staff celebrating service milestones with the Institute, we also presented internal awards to some of our outstanding faculty and staff. You can view the entire image gallery here.

DRI’s 2019 Science Medal Recipient: Dr. Alison Murray
The DRI Science Medal is awarded annually to a faculty member for outstanding scientific contributions.

Alison is best known for her work discovering the existence of microbial life at negative 13 degrees Celsius within the ice-sealed Lake Vida in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica. Her research has provided critical insights into how microorganisms function in some of Earth’s most extreme environments, including those that lack oxygen and biological sources of energy.

Executive Director of Atmospheric Sciences Marc Pitchford presents the 2019 DRI Science Medal to Dr. Alison Murray.

Executive Director of Atmospheric Sciences Marc Pitchford presents the 2019 DRI Science Medal to Dr. Alison Murray.

DRI’s 2019 Service Medal Recipient: Meghan Collins, MS

The DRI Service Medal honors an individual’s broader impact across the Institution and throughout our communities.

As Education Program Manager, Meghan works as part of the Office of Education and across the Institute to expand experiential learning opportunities and share the valuable results of DRI science with the public. She’s the mastermind behind the popular Science Distilled lecture series and the Stories in the Snow citizen science project, to name just a few examples of her work!

DRI President Dr. Kumud Acharya and Meghan Collins.

DRI President Dr. Kumud Acharya and Meghan Collins.

DRI’s 2019 Outstanding Contributions Medal Recipient: Jenny Chapman, MS

There are many ways beyond scientific achievement that individuals can elevate DRI. The Outstanding Contributions Medal is given on the basis of a singular or cumulative contribution to DRI, including establishing new directions for research, securing a large grant, or management of large programs.

Jenny serves as the Program Manager for DRI’s largest research contract with the U.S. Department of Energy – National Nuclear Security Administration. She has served in this leadership role for more than a decade, generating approximately $66 million in total revenues for DRI through the Technical Research, Engineering, and Development Services contract.

Dr. Kumud Acharya, DRI President, presents the 2019 Outstanding Contributions Medal to Jenny Chapman.

Dr. Kumud Acharya, DRI President, presents the 2019 Outstanding Contributions Medal to Jenny Chapman.

NSHE Regents Rising Researcher Award: Dr. Monica Arienzo

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

Monica is an assistant research professor of hydrology, recognized for her early-career accomplishments using geochemical tools to understand climatic changes of the past and human impacts to the environment, and for her commitment to sharing her research with the scientific community, the greater Nevada community, and with students.

Dr. Kumud Acharya and Regent Amy Carvalho present the Regents Rising Researcher Award to Dr. Monica Arienzo (center).

Dr. Kumud Acharya and Regent Amy Carvalho present the Regents Rising Researcher Award to Dr. Monica Arienzo (center).

DRI ice core research makes Discover magazine’s list of top breakthroughs in 2018

DRI ice core research makes Discover magazine’s list of top breakthroughs in 2018

Reno, Nev. (Thurs. January 17th) – For the second time, research out of the Ultra-trace Ice Core Chemistry Laboratory at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nevada, has been named one of the year’s biggest scientific discoveries by Discover magazine.

The research, originally published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science last May, used ice samples from the North Greenland Ice Core Project (NGRIP) to measure, date, and analyze European lead emissions that were captured in Greenland ice between 1100 BC and AD 800. Their results provide new insights for historians about how European civilizations and their economies fared over time.

“Our record of sub-annually resolved, accurately dated measurements in the ice core starts in 1100 BC during the late Iron Age and extends through antiquity and late antiquity to the early Middle Ages in Europe, a period that included the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman civilizations,” said the study’s lead author Joe McConnell, Ph.D., Research Professor of Hydrology at DRI and Director of the Ice Core Lab. “We found that lead pollution in Greenland very closely tracked known plagues, wars, social unrest and imperial expansions during European antiquity.”

The research team on the project included scientists, archaeologists, and economists from the Desert Research Institute (DRI), the University of Oxford, NILU – Norwegian Institute for Air Research and the University of Copenhagen.

This is the second time research out of the DRI Ice Core Lab has been recognized in the Discover magazine round up of the year’s top science stories. In the January 2008 issue, findings on rising black carbon levels in Greenland ice cores during the industrial revolution made the magazine’s 2007 top 100 list.

“Selection of these findings as among the world’s top science stories of 2018 is very exciting for the members of our research group and our international collaborators. It is especially rewarding for me in that a largely ice core based study was selected as among the top stories in archaeology rather than in earth or environmental sciences. This all demonstrates the vast potential of highly interdisciplinary research teams working together.”

Other DRI researchers who worked on this study are Monica Arienzo, Ph.D., assistant research professor, and graduate student researcher Nathan Chellman.

Michael Dettinger among 2018 class of AAAS lifetime fellows

Michael Dettinger among 2018 class of AAAS lifetime fellows

RENO, Nev. (Nov. 28th, 2018) – Michael Dettinger, Ph.D., a leading climate researcher in Nevada, has been named a lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in honor of his remarkable achievements in advancing scientific understanding of the connections between climate and water resources in the Western U.S. Dettinger is one of 416 AAAS members receiving this honor this year, and one of just ten in the Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences section.

“I am both very honored and quite surprised by this turn of events,” Dettinger said humbly of the recognition. “Make no mistake, this kind of honor is rarely for a one-man show. I have always been eager to pitch in however I can and to collaborate with really fine scientists.”

Dettinger holds several professional and academic appointments: he is a senior research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Research Program, a resident scientist at the University of Nevada Reno, a research associate of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and a distinguished visiting researcher at the Desert Research Institute (DRI).

Over the course of his career, Dettinger has monitored and researched the hydrology, climates, and water resources of the West, focusing on regional water resources, watershed modeling, causes of hydro-climatic variability and extremes (including atmospheric rivers and droughts), and climate change influences.

“Looking forward, I figure that the best use of this kind of honor is to see whether it can be used as a wedge for helping better science and better things happen generally,” said Dettinger.

This year’s Fellows, who represent a broad swath of scientific disciplines, were selected for diverse accomplishments that include pioneering research, leadership within their field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations and advancing public understanding of science. They will be formally recognized at the 2019 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C., where they will be presented with an official certificate and the AAAS Fellows’ gold and blue rosette pin, the colors of which represent the fields of science and engineering respectively.

AAAS’ annual tradition of recognizing leading scientists as Fellows dates to 1874. Since then, AAAS has honored distinguished scientists such as astronomer Maria Mitchell, inventor Thomas Edison, chemist Linus Pauling, and computer scientist Grace Hopper. Four of the 2018 Nobel Prize laureates – James Allison, Arthur Ashkin, Frances Arnold, and George Smith – are also AAAS elected Fellows.

The full list of 2018 Fellows will be published in the Nov. 29 issue of Science and is available online with the original AAAS press release: https://www.aaas.org/news/aaas-honors-accomplished-scientists-2018-elected-fellows.

Andrea Korte of the AAAS Office of Public Programs contributed to this release.

Graduate student Yang Han receives Young Algae Researcher Award

Graduate student Yang Han receives Young Algae Researcher Award

DRI graduate student Yang Han, fifth from left, received a Young Algae Researcher Award in October.


 

November 5, 2018 (Reno, Nevada): Desert Research Institute (DRI) graduate student Yang Han was one of six student scientists to be honored with a Young Algae Researcher Award at the 2018 Algae Biomass Summit in The Woodlands, Texas in October.

Han, who received first place for outstanding research in algae engineering, is a Ph.D. student in the atmospheric sciences program. He is currently working under DRI faculty advisor S. Kent Hoekman, Ph.D., to convert algae into biofuel using a high temperature, high pressure thermochemical process known as hydrothermal liquefaction.

There are many potential benefits of using algae as a source of biofuel, Han says.

“Compared with other terrestrial biomass feedstock, algae won’t compete for resources with food production, and will have less impact on land use change and biodiversity,” Han explained. “It can be cultivated in diverse environments – fresh water, waste water, and salt water. Algae also has great potential to rapidly recycle or sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

Yang Han works in the energy lab at Desert Research Institute, in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018. Photo by Cathleen Alison/Nevada Momentum.

Yang Han works in the energy lab at Desert Research Institute, in Reno, Nev., on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.
Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum.

The Young Algae Researcher Awards recognize outstanding research by early-career scientists using algae to address challenges in energy, human health, climate change, agriculture and other fields. A panel of  judges evaluated more than 100 posters based on six key criteria: presentation, methodology, data analysis, poster integrity and the presentation of the poster by the presenter him or herself.

“I felt very honored to receive this award, and look forward to continuing my research in this area,” Han said.


For more information on the Young Algae Researcher Award, visit: https://algaebiomass.org/blog/10384/abo-announces-six-winners-young-algae-researcher-awards-2018-algae-biomass-summit/