Over 60 years of Scientific Discovery, Education and Innovation

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied environmental 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.

DRI’s faculty members are nontenured and responsible for their own salaries through external grants and contracts. Through this blend of academic rigor and private-sector pragmatism, DRI has earned a reputation for delivering high-quality scientific information in an efficient, transparent, and accountable fashion.

Research & Education

Learn more about Atmospheric Sciences

Atmospheric Sciences

Research and services related to air quality and associated health risks, climate, cloud and aerosol physics, renewable energy, fire science, and atmospheric dynamics.

Learn more about Hydrologic Sciences

Hydrologic Sciences

Research, development, and education services contributing to society’s fundamental understanding of hydrologic systems and advancing the sustainability of water resources.

Learn more about Earth and Ecosystems Sciences

Earth & Ecosystem Sciences 

Research in the life and earth sciences, particularly those dealing with the complex interactions of geological processes, organisms, biological communities, and human societies.

Learn more about Education and Workforce Development

Education & Workforce Development

Training Nevada’s K-12 teachers and providing professional development opportunities and training for education-based activities.

Our Faculty and Staff

DRI’s faculty members are nontenured, entrepreneurial and responsible for their own salaries from external grants and contracts. This blend of academic rigor and private-sector pragmatism has earned DRI a reputation for delivering rapid, high-quality environmental science in a businesslike fashion.

Mission & Vision


We excel in basic and applied research and the application of technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world. We implement this mission by fostering scientific and engineering talent. We apply scientific understanding to the effective management of natural resources while meeting Nevada’s needs for economic diversification and science-based educational opportunities.


We seek to be the world’s scientific leader investigating the effects of natural and human-induced environmental change and advancing environmental technologies aimed at assessing a changing planet. We will achieve this vision by increasing scientific knowledge and understanding of the earth’s environment, promoting preservation of diverse ecosystems, advancing responsible resource management, and improving human health and welfare.

Established in 1959

“To contribute more effectively to the security of the nation and to promote the general welfare of the State of Nevada and its citizens through the development of educational and scientific research, the Board of Regents may establish for educational and scientific research a facility within the System to be known as the Desert Research Institute.”

The primary purposes of the Institute are to:

Foster and conduct fundamental scientific, economic, social or educational investigations and applied research for industry, governmental or private agencies or individuals;


Encourage and foster a desire in students and faculty to conduct research;


Discover and develop talent for conducting research;


Acquire and disseminate knowledge related to the projects undertaken; and


Promote all research within the System generally.

Our Story

In 1959, the Nevada State Legislature passed Nevada Revised Statue (NRS) 396.795, creating a division of the University of Nevada system specifically devoted to conducting research. From this legislative action, a small group of farsighted scientists, academic leaders, and entrepreneurs created the Desert Research Institute (DRI), a unique organization that combines the classic academic tradition of high-quality basic research with the productive focus of applied, interdisciplinary research.

million in sponsored research

Specialized Labs & Facilities

Scientists, engineers, students, and staff

in total economic benefit to Nevada for every $1 in state investment


Research campuses

PhD Research Faculty

Mission to advance science and apply solutions