University General Course Catalog 2021-2022 
    Jun 17, 2024  

Affiliated Research, Service Organizations


As a full-time, environmental research and development organization, the Desert Research Institute (DRI) currently conducts scientific investigations in atmospheric physics, air quality, water resources, archaeology, and environmental and ecological responses to climatic change, among other fields. Faculty scientists also develop technology in support of research applications. DRI’s mission is to conduct important research for the state, the nation and the international scientific community–supporting the needs of industry and Nevada’s economic diversification objectives.

Established in 1959, the Desert Research Institute is the only one of the Nevada System of Higher Education’s seven operating divisions that does not award degrees. Members of DRI’s research faculty teach selected, technical subjects at the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, an arrangement that provides the universities with additional expertise in highly technical curricula without the corresponding, full-time staffing requirements. Selected graduate students at the universities are also hired to support DRI researchers on contracted projects, providing underwritten topics for theses and dissertations.

The institute is currently staffed by nearly 500 full- and part- time professional scientists, technicians and support personnel housed in DRI office and laboratory facilities Reno, Las Vegas and Steamboat Springs, Colorado. DRI’s research projects have taken its staff to all 50 United States and to every continent on the planet.

Each of DRI’s three research centers concentrates on a distinct segment of the spectrum of environmental sciences, complementing and interacting with the others. Additionally, two new cross-cutting research centers focus on specific research initiatives, drawing faculty and support from all three main research divisions. In contrast to the traditional, discipline-based organization of academic institutions (e.g. chemistry, physics, geology, mathematics), each DRI division features a combination of the relevant scientific and technical fields for its particular research mission. The divisions also regularly collaborate with faculty from the university campuses in Reno and Las Vegas, as well as other universities or research groups, as needed.

Research Divisions and Centers at DRI

The Division of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) conducts fundamental and applied research in the atmospheric sciences with programs in atmospheric chemistry, climate dynamics, large-scale dynamic meteorology, mesoscale dynamic meteorology, and physical meteorology. The division specializes in the development of instrumentation and techniques for atmospheric measurements and their use in laboratory studies as well as in ground-based, aircraft, and satellite observational programs. Scientists participate worldwide in research projects ranging from Australia to the Canary Islands and from the Arctic to the Antarctica.

The division’s scientists also conduct local and regional studies on air quality across the U.S. and in several foreign countries. Inorganic and organic chemistry laboratories allow analysis of human impacts on air quality, as well as detection and quantification of atmospheric pollutants, including toxic species, at trace levels. The division has also developed and applied advanced “source receptor” techniques to characterize air quality conditions in Reno, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, and central and southern California.

The division operates the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC), one of six federally funded regional centers. The Climate Center conducts climate research and provides climate information to federal agencies, regional organizations, state and local bodies, and the private sector. Climate information is available on the 11 western states, Alaska, Hawaii and the Pacific trusts and territories.

The Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences (DEES) includes a variety of scientific approaches into the causes, mechanisms, and history of landscape change over a range of scales in space and time. Landscapes in this context include the geometric surface environment, the soils mantling the surface, and the vegetation and other biota (including humans) that inhabit and modify it. Among the divisions’ major research capabilities is the Frits Went Laboratory, providing four chambers for creating and observing ecosystems under precisely-controlled experimental and climatic conditions.

DEES scientists focus on major elements of environmental research involving geology and geomorphology, including geochronology and paleoecology (with an emphasis on the last million years of Earth history, the Quaternary Period); ecosystem sciences concerning the responses of plants and animals to changes in climate and anthropogenic factors, and on life in extreme environments; archaeology and anthropology involving human adaptations to dryland environments, prehistoric occupation in the Great Basin, and historic-period settlement and land use of the West; and remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) for modeling and visualizing landscape development, landscape modification, and environmental change.

The Division of Hydrologic Sciences (DHS) investigates the hydrologic, chemical, engineering, economic, and legal aspects of water resources. The division’s investigations include both water quality and quantity, involving activities such as the development of computer-simulation models for planning, managing and evaluating groundwater flow, and studies of geothermal resources and hydroelectric applications.

A major research program on the Nevada Test Site examines the movement of ground water in the region and the processes by which radionuclides are transported in the vast, arid region. A related program concerns environmental pollution of groundwater and is developing and testing new techniques for detecting, identifying, and containing hazardous wastes. Other research efforts examine existing water-management systems and the feasibility of new management techniques for conserving or increasing water supplies. The division also seeks to improve water analysis methods.

DRI’s new Center for Arid Lands Environmental Management (CALEM) addresses environmental management issues affecting desert ecosystems around the globe in an integrated and innovative way. Typically, CALEM brings together DRI scientists who specialize in looking at how impacts on individual ecosystem components –air quality, water supply, and soil conditions–might effect an entire desert ecosystem. This approach focuses on the processes that link those individual components together with the aim of developing predictive capabilities about the consequences of natural events and human activities.

Another approach to arid lands management being developed by CALEM researchers is based on a program known as “Alternative Futures”. Collaborating with researchers from other institutions, DRI scientists are combining socioeconomic models with geological information to predict the effects of population growth on the Mojave Desert in 10, 20, or even 30 years. Computer models create different scenarios depending on factors such as growth rates, population age and income levels, and whether growth is mainly residential or industrial. This innovative approach has great potential as a planning tool in the desert Southwest.

The Center for Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability (WES) was established to address issues of watershed management and restoration through interdisciplinary research teams. Mountain watersheds, in general, are poorly understood and are particularly susceptible to compromise by both natural and human forces. WES is initially focusing on new approaches for predicting watershed behavior and interpreting this knowledge to support watershed planning and management. Specifics include developing novel monitoring approaches to assess the health of watershed as well as new watershed information management and decision support tools. WES scientists are currently working on watershed issues relating to the Lake Tahoe Basin and Truckee River system, the Walker Lake and river system, the Las Vegas Wash and the Prairie Pothole Region of North and South Dakota.

The center’s facilities include: an Environmental Protection Agency-certified water-quality laboratory to support hydrogeologic, geochemical and biological studies; an isotope laboratory for groundwater-recharge investigations; extensive computer facilities; field analytical equipment; and a technical library.


The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) was founded in 1937 and is America’s oldest national judicial membership organization.

The VISION of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is for a society in which every family and child has access to fair, equal, effective, and timely justice.

The MISSION of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges is to provide all judges, courts, and related agencies involved with juvenile, family, and domestic violence cases with the knowledge and skills to improve the lives of the families and children who seek justice.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges seeks to fulfill its MISSION through the following GOALS:

  • Improving the standards, practices, and effectiveness of the nation’s courts handling juvenile delinquency, family law, dependency, and domestic violence cases;
  • Providing training for judges and other professionals who serve in these courts;
  • Providing support for judges and other professionals through continuing education, research, publications, and technical assistance;
  • Providing technical support to court systems regarding their structure, management, and procedures;
  • Contributing to the development and implementation of national policy, standards, and procedures regarding children and families;
  • Acknowledging and upholding the rights of all parties and victims, the safety of all family members, and the safety of the community;
  • Informing the nation as to the work of the courts that hear juvenile delinquency, family law, dependency, and domestic violence cases.

The NCJFCJ has been part of the University of Nevada, Reno community since 1969. The NCJFCJ and the University of Nevada, Reno work together to provide advanced degree programs in Judicial Studies (MJS and Ph.D.) as well as Justice Management (MJM).

The NCJFCJ’s work focuses on issues of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, juvenile justice, domestic child sex trafficking, child support, custody and visitation, substance abuse, mental health, schools and justice, military families, tribal work, and other juvenile and family law issues. The NCJFCJ’s research division, the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), was established in 1973 and is the country’s only non-profit research organization concentrating solely on the juvenile justice system and the prevention of juvenile delinquency and child abuse and neglect. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, NCJJ is the nation’s primary source of information on the nature of juvenile crime, as well as the juvenile justice system’s handling of these matters.

The NCJFCJ is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation with an annual operating budget of roughly $12 million consisting of federal and state cooperative agreements, foundation grants, contracts, and donations. Approximately 70 staff work at its Reno headquarters office and 25 staff work at the research center in Pittsburgh.

For more information about NCJFCJ please visit


Since 1997, students and faculty of the University of Nevada, Reno have benefited from its membership in Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). ORAU is a consortium of 85 colleges and universities and a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. ORAU works with its member institutions to help their students and faculty gain access to federal research facilities throughout the country; to keep its members informed about opportunities for fellowship, scholarship, and research appointments; and to organize research alliances among its members.

Through the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), the DOE facility that ORAU operates, undergraduates, graduates, postgraduates, as well as faculty enjoy access to a multitude of opportunities for study and research. Students can participate in programs covering wide variety of disciplines including business, earth sciences, biomedical sciences, nuclear chemistry, and mathematics. Appointment and program length range from one month to four years. Many of these programs are especially designed to increase the numbers of underrepresented minority students pursuing degrees in science- and engineering-related disciplines. A comprehensive listing of these programs and other opportunities, their disciplines, and details on locations and benefits can be found in at, or by calling either of the contacts below.

ORAU’s Office of Partnership Development seeks opportunities for partnerships and alliances among ORAU’s members, private industry, and major federal facilities. Activities include faculty development programs, such as the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards, the Visiting Industrial Scholars Program, consortium research funding initiatives, faculty research, and support programs as well as services to chief research officers.

For more information about ORAU and its programs, contact:

Office of the Vice President for Research and ORAU Councilor for the University of Nevada, Reno

Visit the ORAU home page at