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Sarah Horst to receive Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences

Ph.D. candidate from University of Arizona to accept award for planetary atmosphere research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 17, 2009

RENO— Sarah Horst will receive the Wagner Memorial Award for her paper titled “Origin of oxygen species in Titan's atmosphere" on Wednesday, Aug. 19 at 4 p.m.

Horst’s paper focused on the oxygen molecules of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. According to Horst, her interest in the project is tied to the Titan’s similarities to Earth.

“The main molecules are similar, mostly nitrogen; researchers potentially stand to gain knowledge about Earth’s atmosphere by understanding what happens to oxygen molecules in Titan’s atmosphere,” Horst said.

Horst has two bachelors’ degrees from Cal Tech, one in planetary science the other in literature, something that she and one of her role models have in common. “When I learned that astronaut Sally Ride has a degree in literature I thought that’s really cool,” Horst said. Perhaps one day the two will share even more similarities.

After completing her degree program she plans to apply for NASA’s Astronaut Program as well as considering postdoctoral work at one of NASA’s research institutes.

Horst learned from an early age the value of a science based education. “My mom is a scientist. I was 13 when she earned her Ph.D. and my father is a medical doctor. They both stressed the importance of earning a degree in science,” Horst added.

Peter B. Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Wagner's career at the Desert Research began in 1968. His research involved the development of new instruments and their use in exploring cloud motions and electrical processes in the atmosphere. While conducting research on March 2, 1980, Dr. Wagner and three other Institute employees lost their lives in a tragic plane crash. In 1981, family and friends established the Peter B. Wagner Memorial Endowment to provide several recognition programs for graduate students at DRI. In 1998, Dr. Wagner's widow, former Nevada Lieutenant Governor Sue Wagner, added to the Wagner Memorial Endowment to establish the Peter B. Wagner Medal of Excellence for DRI Scholars in the early stages of career development and the Wagner Memorial Award for Women in Atmospheric Sciences.

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From left to right, Dr. Stephen G. Wells, Sarah Horst, and Sue Wagner