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NSF-EPSCoR announces major funding to Nevada and DRI


Stillwater Solar-Geothermal Hybrid project. Image courtesy of the Nevada State Office of Energy.
Stillwater Solar-Geothermal Hybrid project. Image courtesy of the Nevada State Office of Energy.

DRI NEWS — The Desert Research Institute is proud to be a part of the Solar Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Nevada thanks to a five-year, $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to examine and improve the effectiveness of solar installations in arid desert lands.

“The NSF-EPSCoR “NEXUS” project aims to position Nevada at the forefront of research on solar energy and its relation to water and the environment. DRI’s experts in water, earth, ecosystem and atmospheric sciences will play a critical role in making the “NEXUS” a success,” said Dr. Stephen Wells, President of the Desert Research Institute. “DRI is honored to be a part of this and a leader in environmental research in Nevada.”

The grant will be supported through the state’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) office and is distributing funds to Nevada’s three major institutions of higher education: the Desert Research Institute, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and the University of Nevada Reno. Each institution will work in a team environment to optimize environmental science, workforce development, and external engagement. Out of nine states that applied for this grant, Nevada is one of four to be awarded the funds.

Harry Reid, U.S. Senator for Nevada made the official announcement on Monday, May 13, 2013. He says the time is now for the state to continue its track as a leader in clean energy development.

“Nevada has come a long way in developing our nation’s clean energy best practices. By bringing together the greatest minds in Nevada, we can overcome obstacles that hamper clean energy development in Nevada and elsewhere. I am confident that their findings will allow our state and others like Nevada, to harness our vast clean energy potential.”

Specifically, DRI will be leading the environmental research portion of the NSF-EPSCoR grant. Dr. Markus Berli, DRI’s Environmental Soil Physicist and one of the NEXUS Principle Investigators, says it’s critical that the impact of solar energy production on arid environments can be studied in a collective setting.

“The Solar Energy-Water-Environment Nexus in Nevada presents an exciting opportunity for collaborative research on solar energy production and its connection to water in an arid environment,” said Dr. Berli.

Statewide, the grant money will also help with various educational outreach components through Science-Technology-Engineering and Math (STEM).

“This project will importantly promote education in solar energy, water and environment with programs aimed at pre-college and undergraduate students with a focus to attract underrepresented minority groups, K-12 teachers, and the general public,” said Dr. Gayle Dana, Nevada NSF EPSCoR Project Director.

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