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DRI Confers 20th Annual Wagner Award

  • Published in Awards and Honors

Reno, NV (Friday, July 20th): On Thursday, July 19th, DRI celebrated the institute's long-term commitment to recognizing and uplifting women in the sciences with a ceremony in honor of the 20th Annual Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences.

This competitive national award, conferred annually since 1998, recognizes a woman pursuing a graduate education in the atmospheric sciences who has published an outstanding academic paper, the only such award for graduate women in the United States. The amount of the award is $1,500.

Isabel McCoy at Wagner CeremonyIsabel McCoy presents her research on marine cold air outbreaks to DRI faculty, students, and staff.

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

This year's winner, Isabel McCoy of the University of Washington, and second and third place finalists Lauren Fleming and Julia Montoya-Aguilera of the University of California, Irvine, presented their winning research papers to an audience of DRI faculty, staff, and students in the afternoon, toured DRI's labs and facilities, and later joined Ms. Sue Wagner and the Wagner Award Committee for dinner.

Wagner Awardees 2018(From left) Third place finalist Julia Montoya-Aguilera, winner Isabel McCoy, and second place finalist Lauren Fleming pose before presenting their research to DRI faculty, students, and staff.

To learn more about the history of the Wagner Award and for information about how to apply, visit:


The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied interdisciplinary research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects around the globe. Since 1959, DRI's research has advanced scientific knowledge, supported Nevada's diversifying economy, provided science-based educational opportunities, and informed policy makers, business leaders, and community members. With campuses in Reno and Las Vegas, DRI serves as the non-profit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education. For more information, please visit


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