Craig Smith

Dr. Craig Smith’s professional interests are in Energy Meteorology, Wildfire Meteorology, and Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP). With over 15 years experience in NWP, Dr. Smith has built and runs several applied operational weather decision support systems for Wind Energy companies, public lands managers, and the construction and outdoor event industries.

His works seeks to quantify and improve the predictability of weather-driven variable generators to facilitate and accelerate their integration onto the electrical grid, and determine and improve the predictability of extreme weather-driven processes such as wildfires and high wind events.

Paul Buck

Dr. Buck is an anthropologist and educator. He has been involved in archaeological and anthropological projects in a wide variety of contexts in western North America and Egypt for almost 30 years. His research interests include:

• Prehistoric human adaptation to arid environments of western North America,
• the transition from food collecting to food producing economies in the Southwestern U.S. and Egypt,
• the impact of technological change on prehistoric cultures, and
• applications of remote sensing and geoarchaeology to prehistory.

In addition to his research efforts, Dr. Buck has been involved in a number of science education projects and other efforts to promote science inquiry in a variety of scientific fields, including archaeology. He was the Principal Investigator of the Shadow Ridge High School/Tule Springs Earth Science Education Project, funded by NSF to develop a new earth science honors course based on authentic research for 9th grade students (NSF award #0331249). He was the lead education consultant for development of the environmental education curriculum for 5th grade students at the Red Rock Desert Learning Center residential outdoor science school planned to open in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area near Las Vegas. He directed the Nevada Science Teacher Enhancement Project, a three year in-service teacher enhancement project program funded by the National Science Foundation’s Teacher Enhancement Program (grant number ESI-9731285). Buck was Project Director for the NSHE’s K-12 education/outreach program as part of an NSHE $15 million 5 year EPScoR RTIII award.

Dr. Buck is also committed to involving a greater diversity of students in math and science. As Director of the Increasing Diversity in Science in Nevada program (a part of the NSHE’s previous NSF EPSCoR grant), he led after school science enrichment programs for middle school and high school students, prepared freshman minority students for college in the NSHE, and provided support for freshman students at UNR and UNLV.

Hai Pham

I am currently a postdoctoral fellow working in the Division of Hydrologic Sciences (DHS), at the Desert Research Institute (DRI). I obtained my Ph.D. in Hydrology from LSU. Before I joined DRI in 2016, I worked as a postdoc fellow at LSU.

My research aims to reduce uncertainty in groundwater modeling with focus on developing computer programs for prediction of flow and contaminant movement in porous and fractured media, uncertainty assessment of hydrologic parameters, conceptual models, and scenarios, optimization, and experimental designs using high-performance computing systems. At DRI, I am developing computer models to predict flow and radionuclide transport through fractured rock aquifers at the Pahute Mesa of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

I enjoy conducting research and publishing, developing grant proposals as well as teaching university courses and mentoring students.

Markus Berli

Dr. Markus Berli’s research interests focus on modeling and measurement of soil structural dynamics affecting fluid flow and solute transport. Key issues are the connection of hydraulics and mechanics of soils at the micro-scale and upscaling physical soil behavior from pore to sample- and eventually field-scale.

Further areas of interest are: New methods for in-situ characterization of soil hydraulic and mechanical properties; improved characterization of soil pore geometry using X-ray-Micro-Tomography and pore water flow employing Neutron-Tomography; improved methods to assess and predict soil deterioration due to mechanical impacts.

His vision is that micro-scale coupling of soil hydraulics and mechanics with chemical and microbial processes will provide a conceptual framework for an improved understanding of fluid flow, contaminant fate and transport in the vadose zone, to sustain soil productivity and to secure water resources of sufficient quality and quantity world-wide.

Erick Bandala

Erick R. Bandala, Assistant Research Professor for Advanced Water Technologies at the Desert Research Institute in Las Vegas, NV. Dr. Bandala holds PhD degree in Engineering, a Master degree in Organic Chemistry and a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. Before his current position, he was faculty member of the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Universidad de Las Americas Puebla (2007-2013) and the Department of Chemical, Food and Environmental Engineering (2013 to 2015) and titular researcher (1993-2007) at the Mexican Institute of Water Technology (belonging to the Ministry of Environment Mexico) in Morelos, Mexico. Dr. Bandala has taught graduate and undergraduate courses covering fundamentals and applications of environmental sciences and engineering with particular emphasis in water treatment processes for disinfection and decontamination, soil treatment and its application for site restoration. Dr. Bandala has been the recipient of several prestigious awards, Visiting Professor at the Department of Technology and Environmental Design at Appalachian State University (2014), the UDLAP Outstanding Teaching Award 2013, the Puebla State 2012 Science and Technology Award, Professional Hydrologist (Water Quality) by the American Institute of Hydrology, the Rice International Visiting Fellow on Energy, the Environment and Sustainability 2008-2009, National Researcher (Level II) on the National Council of Science and Technology-Mexico (2004-present), visiting Professor at the School of Civil and Agricultural Engineering. Universidad de Concepción, Chile 2004 and 2008 and Invited Researcher at the Plataforma Solar de Almería, Spain (2000). He has research interests in several different topics related with Environmental Engineering including A) Mechanistic aspects of the use and application of solar driven advanced oxidation processes (AOPs) for environmental restoration B) Development of advanced water and soil treatment for site restoration C) Synthesis, characterization and application of nanomaterials for Indoor Farming systems D) Development of Climate Change adaptation methodologies for water security. As result of his research activities, Dr. Bandala is author or co-author of over 100 international publication including 68 peer-reviewed papers in international journals with high impact index (average impact factor 2.7, >1490 citations, h-index 22); 5 books, 25 book chapters and 65 works published in proceedings of international conferences.

Gayle Dana

Dr. Dana is the NSF EPSCoR Project Director and the Nevada State EPSCoR Director. Dr. Dana’s expertise is in surface water hydrology and energy balance of desert, seasonally snow-covered, and polar regions. Present research projects include 1) nutrient and sediment source assessment for TMDL development in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee River Watersheds; (2) hydrochemical modeling in a Lake Tahoe watershed (3) effects of fire on nutrient dynamics in forested watersheds, (4) evaporation from lakes and reservoirs in support of the Truckee River Operating Agreement, and (5) spatially distributed energy balance modeling for climate change detection in Antarctica. Dr. Dana is the Science Advisor to the Truckee River TMDL and Watershed Council, and is a collaborator with the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research project.

Lynn Fenstermaker

Dr. Lynn Fenstermaker is the Project Director the Nevada Space Grant Consortium and NASA EPSCoR.  She has experience and interests in the use of remotely sensed data to map, monitor, and assess the effect of environmental stressors on vegetation at small and large scales. She has served as Director of two NSHE climate change experiments; the Nevada Desert FACE (Free Air CO2 Enrichment) Facility and the Mojave Global Change Facility and is currently Director of the NV Climate-ecohydrological Assessment Network (NevCAN). All three of these projects have been examining various aspects of climate change impacts on the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. Some of her recent research on evapotranspiration has scaled leaf and canopy measurements to plant community and ecosytem levels using remotely sensed data from ground, UAV and satellite sources. Dr. Fenstermaker is the DRI liaison for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and has worked with the University of Nevada Las Vegas to develop a Class I UAS platform. This platform has been used for several years to acquire multispectral and color images of research plots to assess climate change treatment effects and basic plant cover information.

Rajat Mehrotra

Dr. Rajat Mehrotra is an Innovation Fellow at the Applied Innovation Center. His primary responsibilities include closely working with AIC director, business and computational lead, and various divisional directors within DRI to establish priorities and develop intellectual properties in the areas of cyber physical systems, high performance computing, and data science. Dr. Mehrotra received his PhD at Mississippi State University in electrical & computer engineering. His research has been aimed to develop state-of-the-art innovative techniques for designing advanced software systems and novel algorithms to solve complex problems of large scale Distributed Computing Systems (DCS) in the discipline of computer engineering. Dr. Mehrotra’s key research interests include performance management and security of DCS, Energy-Aware HPC Systems, Big Data Systems, and cyber physical systems.

Henry Sun

Henry Sun is an Assistant Research Professor Microbiology, Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences at the Desert Research Institute, Las Vegas campus. His research areas of interest and expertise is life in extreme environments; endolithic microorganisms in the Antarctic dry valleys, the Atacama Desert, and Death Valley; mineral formations in microbial environments; biological rock weathering, iron isotopic fractionation, and survival and adaptation in endolithic communities; new approaches to planetary life detection; and microbiology of compost tea making and its use as an alternative to fungicide in agriculture and viticulture.