Graduate Student Research

At the University of Nevada, Reno, graduate students are producing exciting research which promises to help shape the course of the 21st century. Passionate exploration, innovation and dedication are fundamental to every program. Scroll down, learn a factoid, see something new, and spark an interest. See what's possible on your Gradventure.

Three-Minute Thesis First Place Winner Dissertation Category

Tian Yu, the 2017 winner in the dissertation category, will be representing the University of Nevada, Reno at the Western Association of Graduate Schools annual competition on March 21, 2018. Good luck, Tian!

Drop-Seq: Single Cell Expression Analysis, Tian Yu

See all of the 2017 Three Minute Thesis winning presentations.

Respected Academics and Research

The University has more than 60 research centers and facilities, and dozens of state-of-the-art laboratories. The University is also home to the University of Nevada School of Medicine, where groundbreaking research efforts have been made in several areas of health, including cancer and heart treatments.

The University's research enterprise includes the Nevada Terawatt Facility, which houses the most powerful laser on a college campus, the Nevada Seismological Lab, one of the most sophisticated large-scale structures laboratories in the country where pioneering earthquake engineering is accomplished, and the Academy for the Environment, which focuses on issues of sustainability in the Great Basin and Lake Tahoe areas.

Learn about additional research being conducted on campus.

University receives record-breaking number of National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards

Read how the University rivals premier research universities with nine NSF grants in our NevadaToday article.

Graduate Dean Merit Scholarship

Graduate student in snowy woods feeding a birdCarrie Branch is the recipient of one of the first Graduate Dean Merit Scholarships for her work studying pre-mating mechanisms that contribute to the separation of mountain chickadees inhabiting high versus low elevations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Learn more about Carrie's research and the Graduate Dean's Awards.

We want to feature your research!

We're looking to promote the exciting research coming out of the Graduate School at the University of Nevada, Reno. Send us a recap of your research and/or any funding awards your research has received, and we might feature it on our Graduate Research page! Thank you for outstanding contribution to the research community.

Submit your research summary

Student Research Award Recipients

Our graduate and doctoral students continue to make amazing contributions to the research profile of the University of Nevada, Reno.

Graduate student in snowy woods feeding a bird

Carrie's research focuses on how environmental variation in montane ecosystems shapes the behavior of individuals inhabiting harsher, high elevations when compared to milder, low elevations. More specifically, she studies pre-mating mechanisms that contribute to the separation of mountain chickadees inhabiting high versus low elevations in the Sierra Nevada.

She's found that female birds from high elevations have a preference for high elevation males over their low elevation counterparts, and that male song, which is used for mate attraction, varies significantly between high- and low-elevation males, suggesting that females use male song to identify mates from their respective elevation. This ability to discriminant between males is particularly important for these birds because they store food items in the summer, when food is abundant, to use later in the winter when food is scarce, and they use spatial memory to find previously stored food items. High-elevation birds have significantly better spatial memory than low-elevation birds, therefore, it behooves high-elevation females to mate with other high-elevation males to ensure their offspring will have superb spatial memory for finding their food stores, thus increasing the likelihood that they will survive the harsh winters.

Carrie is a highly research-‐‐accomplished graduate student in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology (EECB) graduate program. Carrie has authored/co-‐‐authored 18 peer-‐‐reviewed papers, of which 15 have been published while at UNR. Carrie is the lead author (in one case she shares the first authorship with Dovid Kozlovsky) on 8 papers!

Carrie's H-index of citation is already at a 7 with 133 citations overall -- impressive for a graduate student. Carrie's Research Gate Score is 20.69, which is higher than that of some postdocs, and according to Research Gate, Carrie's score is higher that 72.5% of all Research Gate members. Carrie's paper on elevation related song differences in chickadees (in Royal Society Open Science) is in the top 10% of all research output scored by Altmetric ("Altmetric has tracked 5,223,626 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric")( The full text of that paper has been viewed 2,414 times in less than just two years since publication!

She is likely to be remembered as an EECB graduate with one of the most impressive publication records achieved during her tenure as a Ph.D. student.

Graduate Student Marcela Salazar

Marcela is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Atmospheric Sciences program and joined the Atmospheric Turbulence and Air Quality (ATAQ) research group for her Ph.D. after completing her MS degree at the University of Nevada, Reno. In the ATAQ group, she has been able to incorporate the experimental work in aerosol optical properties she did as a Master's student (advisor: W. Patrick Arnott, resulting in two journal publications) into a spatial investigation of wildfire smoke plume impacts in California and Nevada.

Her current work focuses on the ability to use satellite remote sensing to measure near-surface air pollution concentrations downwind of wildfires.

After starting this research in June 2014, she already has one accepted publication; one draft publication, expected submission March 2017; and has given five conference presentations. In addition to these, she plans to prepare two more first author journal articles before she graduates and will attend two national level conferences. One example of the impact of Marcela's research is her most recent article, it was published November 30, 2016 and had its first citation in a paper published in February 2017. Her results are timely and of great importance to the aerosol remote-sensing community.