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Kumud Acharya, President, Desert Research Institute Talks to Nevada Independent on Increasing Research Funding

Of Nevada’s eight higher education institutions, one is not quite like the rest. With faculty funded entirely by outside grant dollars and contract money, the Desert Research Institute teaches no students and confers no degrees. Instead, it specializes in just what the name suggests: research. 

Even so, the pandemic did not spare DRI from its wide-reaching effects. The Nevada Independent sat down with Acharya to break down how COVID affected research in the midst of ongoing climate, weather and resource challenges, as well as what could come next for the state’s sole research institution. 

The Nevada Independent: When we think of what COVID did to universities, what COVID did to higher ed, we think in terms of throwing teaching online. But obviously DRI is much different from the rest of NSHE, so how did research operations here change because of the pandemic? What has the last year and a half looked like for DRI?

DRI President Kumud Acharya: Let me start out by saying how DRI is different from other institutions — DRI is an Environmental Research Institute. Our mission is research. So, while we are the only institute that only focuses on resources within NSHE, during COVID, we were impacted like any other institution. But what we did was we — our focus was to let our critical research continue while we closed our campus for everybody else. And so those who had to be on campus were on campus, doing their research. 

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