DRI Logo.png
DRI's logo
The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is the nonprofit research institute of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), the organization that encompasses all of the publicly supported higher education in the U.S. state of Nevada. DRI conducts applied research on air, land and water quality in Nevada, the United States and on every continent.[1][2]

Established in 1988 and sponsored by AT&T, the institute annually awards a Nevada Medal for outstanding achievement in science and engineering. The award is presented by the Governor of Nevada during ceremonies in Reno and Las Vegas attended by Nevada's business, educational and governmental leaders. The ceremonies include public lectures by the medalist and the medalist receives a pure silver medallion as well as a $20,000 lecture honorarium.[3]

DRI generates about $50 million in total annual revenue and has more than 500 employees on its two main campuses in Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada.

DRI's Core Divisions and Centers

DRI's Reno Campus
DRI's environmental research programs are divided into three core divisions:[4]
  • Atmospheric Sciences (DAS)
  • Earth and Ecosystem Sciences (DEES
  • Hydrologic Sciences (DHS)

In addition to the three core divisions, DRI draws upon expertise from the Divisions to develop four interdisciplinary research centers:[5]
  • Applied Innovation Center for Advanced Analytics (AIC)
  • Center for Environmental Remediation and Monitoring (CERM)
  • Clean Technologies and Renewable Energy Center (CTREC)
  • Center for Watersheds and Environmental Sustainability (CWES)

Some Typical Programs

Atmospheric and Dispersion Modeling Program (ADIM)

For over a decade, the Atmospheric and Dispersion Modeling team within the Atmospheric Sciences Division has been conducting research and application studies related to observations and modeling of atmospheric and dispersion processes over complex topography and coastal areas.[6]
In particular, the team is applying, developing, and evaluating high resolution mesoscale meteorological models as well as regulatory and advanced atmospheric dispersion models.[7] They have developed a Lagrangian Random Particle Dispersion Model that has been applied to complex coastal and inland environments.

Cloud Seeding Program

Cloud seeding has been conducted in the Tahoe and Ruby Mountain areas by DRI since the 1960's and was initially funded by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The primary purpose of this program is to augment snowfall in mountainous regions supplying water to northern and southern Nevada, so as to increase the snowpack and resultant runoff from the targeted basins. DRI uses ground stations and aircraft to release microscopic silver iodide particles into winter clouds, stimulating the formation of ice crystals which then develop into snow.[8]


The two main campuses of DRI are located in:
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Las Vegas, Nevada

The two subsidiary campuses are located in:
  • Boulder City, Nevada
  • Steamboat Springs, Colorado

There are various other properties owned or leased by DRI.[9]


  1. Official website of DRI
  2. About DRI
  3. About the Nevada Medal
  4. DRI Divisions
  5. DRI Centers
  6. ADIM: Atmospheric Dispersion Modeling Program
  7. M.R. Beychok (2005), Fundamentals of Stack Gas Dispersion, 4th Edition, ISBN 0-9644599-0-2.
  8. Synopsis of DRI Cloud Seeding Program
  9. DRI Real Property Report: November 2010