Not all superheroes wear capes. Some wear lab coats.

With nine areas of research and our world-class facilities and faculty, you can consider a myriad of topics of specialization -- and ways you'll help the planet.

Graduate research areas

Learn more about the areas in which our faculty specialize and find an area of research that excites you.

  • Atmospheric chemistry

    Atmospheric chemistry is the study of chemical and physical processes in the atmosphere and their implications for climate, ecosystems, and human health. It focuses on chemistry of the gas and particulate-phase species in the upper and lower atmosphere and it helps to predict how air pollution can affect climate on local and global scales.

  • Climate trends

    The global climate is constantly changing and study of climate trends allows us to estimate the magnitude of the climate change. For example, this field of atmospheric sciences estimates the amount of heat-trapping gases, which are emitted globally, and analyzes how the Earth's climate (e.g., atmospheric temperature) reacts to those emissions.

  • Cloud and aerosol physics

    Clouds and aerosols play an extremely important role in the atmosphere. This area relates to the following research fields: atmospheric structure, global radiation balance, aerosol nucleation, physics and chemistry of clouds and precipitation, radiation scattering by gases and aerosol particles, radiation transfer, atmospheric thermodynamics, cloud physics, aerosol mechanics, atmospheric electricity, etc.

  • Fire weather and wildfire plume dynamics

    Wildland fires are challenging to study and analyze. This area covers wildfire plume dynamics, boundary layer controls on cumulus convection, mesoscale controls on orographic precipitation, remote sensing of wildland fires, etc.

  • Health impacts of air pollution

    Air pollution has various short- and long-term health effects. Despite considerable air pollution control measures, air pollution remains one of the most important  health risk factors. To control air pollution, six common air pollutants (known as “criteria pollutants”) are monitored: particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, lead, and ground-level ozone.

  • Mesoscale modeling

    Mesoscale modeling is a discipline that studies different mesoscale atmospheric phenomena such as thunderstorms, winds, land-sea breezes, pollution generation and transport, etc.

  • Radiative forcing

    This field covers the basic components of solar and terrestrial radiation for clear and cloudy conditions and related to atmospheric heating rates, the general circulation, remote sensing, and climate.

  • Remote sensing

    Monitoring and analysis of Earth’s environments from a distance using observations collected by aircraft, satellites, and ground-based instruments.

  • Weather forecasting

    The weather forecasting field focuses on analysis of past weather data, taking current observations, and predicting future state of weather. It helps to understand atmospheric processes using meteorological parameters.

An unbeatable combination of faculty, facilities and physical location.

Students in the Atmospheric Sciences graduate program are surrounded by world quality facilities at the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute. The University campus encompasses 60 major buildings across 200 acres. There are six colleges, a division of continuing education, and four independent schools, including the School of Medicine -- all to serve more than 19,000 students. The 32-acre DRI campus is located approximately five miles north of the University.  There are numerous laboratories and facilities to support the research undertaken by students in the program. DRI and UNR provide space and technology resources (computers, servers, databases, software, printers, lab instruments, etc.) to run laboratory experiments, perform data analyses, and allocate student and faculty offices.

The Organic Analytical Laboratory

The Organic Analytical Laboratory, directed by Dr. Andrey Khlystov, is equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation providing a full range of analytical capabilities for identifying and quantifying trace organic contaminants in the atmosphere.

The Storm Peak laboratory

The Storm Peak laboratory (SPL, DRI) is a permanent mountain-top facility used for research and training in the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Colorado. Ideally situated for in-cloud measurements, this facility enables greater understanding and characterization of the meteorological processes than are otherwise not available elsewhere.

Patrick Arnott's Observatory

Patrick Arnott, Ph.D. operates an observatory for in situ and remote sensing measurements of atmospheric aerosol and radiation.  The observatory is located on the top floor and roof of the Leifson Physics building at the University campus.

The Organic Analytical Laboratory

The Environmental Analysis Facility (EAF, Professor Jodi Chow) at DRI specializes in complex analyses of environmental samples with an emphasis on suspended particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) in ambient air and source effluents.