Maki Endowment

Maki Distinguished and Visiting Scientists

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is fortunate to have the following researchers as Maki Distinguished and Visiting Scientists: 

Dr. Martinus (Rien) van Genuchten

Dr. Martinus (Rien) van Genuchten

Maki Distinguished and Visiting Scientist

Dr. Martinus (Rien) van Genuchten will be assisting with southern Nevada water issues. Dr. van Genuchten is currently a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and is one of the premier hydrologists in the world today. He is best known for developing the basic theory of water flow and solute transport in unsaturated soils (i.e., van Genuchten’s Equation).

Dr. van Genuchten is widely sought for his insight and advisory role in steering the direction of research for institutions in the United States and abroad. He has been a guest scientist at a number highly acclaimed institutes, including ETH Zurich. He has also served as the editor in chief of Vadose Zone Journal and as the associate editor of several other scientific journals, including Water Resources Research, Advances in Water Resources, and the Journal of Contaminant Hydrology.

At DRI, Dr. van Genuchten works with researchers on topics related to water and soil in southern Nevada, such as the fundamentals and hydrology of desert soils and their relation to climate change and postfire flooding. He draws on his extensive expertise and professional network to connect DRI’s soil and water researchers with other leading research institutes around the world in order to address the environmental challenges that affect the Southwest.

Dr. van Genuchten has developed an exemplary career in soil hydrology for the past 35 years and most of his dedicated work has been conducted at the US Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, California. His scientific achievements have earned him several awards, such as the Soil Science Research Award (1996), Soil Physics Award (1998), and Technology Transfer Award (2001). In 2010, he was awarded the John Dalton Medal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), one of the most prestigious awards in geoscience. In addition to his fundamental contributions to research, Dr. van Genuchten has demonstrated unique leadership capabilities for the scientific community.

Dani Or, Ph.D.

Dani Or, Ph.D.

Maki Distinguished and Visiting Scientist

Dr. Dani Or’s research focuses on mass and energy transport in porous media; mechanics of abrupt landslides and avalanches; evaporation and gas exchange from porous surfaces, and linking physical processes and biological activity in soil. Dr. Or has authored and coauthored over 250 ISI refereed publications, coauthored a book and over 350 proceeding papers and abstracts. Dr. Or is the former Editor in Chief of Vadose Zone Journal, recipient of the Kirkham Soil Physics Award (2001), 2004 fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, chair of the 2008 Gordon Research Conference on flow and transport (Oxford, UK), and 2010 fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He was selected to be a Birdsall-Dreiss distinguished lecturer, recipient of the 2013 Helmholtz International Fellow Award, elected the 2014 fellow of the Geological Society of America, and recipient of the 2017 European Geosciences Union John Dalton Medal ( As a Maki Distinguished Scientist, Dr. Or collaborates with DRI faculty on research related to water in desert soils and evaporation suppression from water reservoirs, which addresses water issues that are relevant to southern Nevada.


Chuck Russell
Program Coordinator


Desert Research Institute
755 East Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119


Hydrologic Sciences