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 600 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.

DRI cientist studying samples in laboratory

Air Quality

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

scientist pointing at hieroglyphics


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

scientists in a lab


The study of life in the universe.

view of a cloud covered valley

Atmospheric Modeling

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

scientist studying samples under a microscope


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

researchers setting up measurement instrument in lake

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.

eyedropper dropping liquid into two sample dishes


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

person looking at Steel Creek Bluff


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

heat map of the United States

Geostatistical Analysis

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

Groundwater streamline model


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

scientist examining vials

Health Effects of Pollution Exposure

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

student wearing latex gloves showing ice core sample


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

researcher teaching a class of adults

Informal Education

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

Science Alive display table

K-12 STEM Curriculum

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

scientist in front of weather station in Samoa


The study of the atmosphere for weather processes and forecasting

woman standing in water with floating measurement instrument

Natural Resources Sustainability

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

two scientists examining a jar of polluted water

Pollutant Characterization

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

two men building a robot

Professional Development for Educators

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

aerial view of western Nevada and Lake Tahoe

Remote Sensing

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

groupd sitting around a table having a discussion at the 2019 Native Waters on Arid Lands Tribal Summit

Social Science

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

boat on a lake

Water Resource Management

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

DRI truck setting up cloud seeding machine

Weather Modification

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

drone pilot flying drone into wildfire smoke

Wildland Fire Sciences

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