Science leaders from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), virtually convened on July 20 to recognize a new research partnership. Together, the two institutions will address critical global challenges that hold particular significance for the American West.
One of the first joint research efforts aims to improve the health and resilience of the Sierra Nevada. A central theme of the project is minimizing the risk of catastrophic wildfire while sustaining multiple environmental and societal benefits on forested lands. The work is directly applicable to similar challenges faced in the Pacific Northwest, where Mark Wigmosta, PNNL chief scientist for watershed hydrology, is teaming with the U.S. Forest Service on several other projects related to forest restoration and water supply.
Wigmosta, now also adjunct faculty at UNR in the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Science, built the hydrologic modeling capabilities that the project with UNR will use. In addition to his direct scientific contributions, Wigmosta will advise a UNR graduate student working on the project. Engagement with UNR’s faculty and students helps build a pipeline of future researchers.
The PNNL-UNR partnership will also explore other areas of mutual strength such as cybersecurity, data science and analytics, and others.
“High-impact partnerships like this have certain characteristics, such as a shared vision, a commitment to develop and sustain the partnership, aligned or complimentary capabilities and roles, and mutual respect at multiple levels of both organizations,” said Tony Peurrung, PNNL’s deputy laboratory director for science and technology, during the online event. “These attributes strengthen our ability to take on and make a difference in hard problems like climate change and critical infrastructure resilience that today’s world throws at us.”
An inter-institutional agreement is in place to guide the UNR faculty and PNNL scientists involved.