Innovation Research Program

The DRI Foundation created the Innovation Research Program (IRP) to increase the opportunities for DRI’s faculty and technical staff to succeed in their research by financially supporting their very best ideas. This financial support enhances DRI’s reputation as a world leader in critical environmental research and attracts talented scientists to the Institute.

During this fiscal year (July 2018-June 2019), the DRI Foundation’s goal is to raise $1 million, all of which will go directly to scientists as they carry on DRI’s legacy of bringing scientific knowledge to bear on society. With a gift to the IRP this year, you too can be part of the future of environmental research.


In October 2018, the DRI Foundation announced the first round of seed grants awarded by the IRP. Thanks to the support of generous donors, $257,000 was awarded to eight teams of researchers that will be exploring innovative ideas related not only to human health and welfare but also to the well-being of the natural systems we depend on. The research teams will complete these projects over the course of the next year. 

  1. Dan McEvoy, Ben Hatchett, & Justin Chambers are developing new tools to track snow drought throughout the western United States.
  2. Eric Wilcox & Marco Giardano are designing novel sky-imaging tools to forecast fluctuations in solar power production based on cloud cover.
  3. Vera Samburova & Andrey Khlystov are creating new ways to analyze human breath in order to learn about exposure to pollutants.
  4. Hai Pham & Markus Berli are examining the relationship between wildfire and groundwater resources.
  5. Rishi Parashar & Nicole Sund are mapping the distribution of anti-cancer drugs through the bloodstream for the effective treatment of tumors.
  6. Yeongkwon Son & Andrey Khlystov are crafting tools to measure the harmful emissions of electronic cigarettes.
  7. Monica Arienzo, Zoe Harrold, & Meghan Collins are investigating the impact of microplastics on the aquatic ecosystems in Lake Tahoe.
  8. Vic Etyemezian & George Nikolich are building new instruments to simulate erosion of soils by wind.