Research Areas

Working to solve our most challenging environmental problems

DRI’s research calls on the expertise and methods of scientists from multiple scientific disciplines.

More than 400 highly-skilled scientists, engineers, technicians, students, and staff work collaboratively within and across three research divisions and a STEM Education program, focused on understanding and answering critical science questions about global climate change, water quality and availability, air quality, the sustainability of desert lands, life in extreme environments, education, and more.

Air Quality

Understanding air quality issues of regional, national, and planetary interest.


The study of human history and prehistory and the analysis of artifacts and other physical remains.


The study of life in the universe.

Atmospheric Modeling

Modeling, and predicting weather and climate at different spatial and temporal scales


Studying the complex interactions and distribution of living organisms on Earth and beyond.

Ecological Engineering

Understanding and mitigating the impacts of human activities on the natural environment. 

Healthy Nevada Project

Genomic Medicine & Health Sciences

Integrating personal healthcare and environmental data with socioeconomic determinants.


Researching rock-water interactions that affect water quality and dissolved constituent transport.


DRI contains one of the most diverse Quaternary research programs worldwide. 

Geostatistical Analysis

Environmental and meteorological applications to predict temperatures, rainfall, and other variables.


Researching flow, heat and solute transport modeling activities in porous and fractured geologic media.

Health Effects of Pollution Exposure

Characterizing and quantifying air pollutants and evaluating the exposure of humans to air pollutants.


Groundwater resource evaluation, contaminant and reactive transport, and geochemical evolution. 

Informal Education

Practical learning that incorporates place-based resources, active participation, and out-of-classroom educational opportunities.

K-12 STEM Curriculum

Supplying K-12 educators with the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge for teaching inquiry-based science lessons.


The study of the atmosphere for weather processes and forecasting

Natural Resources Sustainability

Providing data and analysis to aid in land use planning, water management, environmental conservation, and community sustainability. 

Pollutant Characterization

Isolating and identifying pollutants and contaminants in the air and water.

Professional Development for Educators

Providing advanced STEM training for teachers through hands-on workshops and informal learning opportunities.

Remote Sensing

Monitoring and analysis of Earth’s environments from a distance using images collected by aircraft or satellites.

Social Science

The study of human institutions, interactions, behaviors, and the effective application of research projects and products

Water Resource Management

Understanding the movement, consumption, and cycling of Earth’s surface waters and groundwater.

Weather Modification

Enhancement and analysis of natural water supplies to support ecosystems and communities.

Wildland Fire Sciences

Understanding the causes, consequences, and benefits of wildfire on a changing planet.