Notable Nevadans





June 16, 2016

Mr. HELLER: Mr. President, today, I wish to recognize Dr. Stephen Wells for his service with the Desert Research Institute (DRI) after being a significant team member for 16 years. It gives me great pleasure to recognize his years of hard work and commitment to making this Institute the best it can be.

Dr. Wells earned his master’s degree and doctorate in geology from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. He later served as a professor of geomorphology and chair of the graduate program in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, jumpstarting his academic career. In 1976, he joined the University of New Mexico, serving as chair of the Department of Geology from 1989 to 1991. In both roles, Dr. Wells built internationally recognized research and graduate programs and enrolled 34 students into the programs.

Beginning in 1995, Dr. Wells began his lengthy tenure with the DRI as executive director of the Quaternary Sciences Center. Throughout the next 16 years, he worked diligently to climb the ladder and became President of DRI, one of the world’s largest multidisciplinary environmental research organizations located in our Great State. The Institute has 500 scientists, technologists, students, and other staff working to further develop nationally recognized research. Dr. Wells led the Institute with three core divisions and four interdisciplinary science centers, which serve Nevada and regions across the globe with innovative research. Dr. Wells also helped build the Institute to a $50 million per year operation, compared to the $23.8 million in 1998. Residents across the state are fortunate to have had someone of such dedication working on behalf of the Institute.

During his time in Nevada, he emerged as a true leader within our community. Dr. Wells served as a graduate faculty member in the hydrological sciences program and the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Nevada, Reno. He also served as a board member of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada and the Nevada Development Authority. In addition, he spearheaded various initiatives in Unmanned Aircraft Systems technology, as well as helping position Nevada as a front-runner in advanced technologies. I have worked with him personally on various Nevada priorities and am thankful to have had him as an ally in these initiatives.

Dr. Wells has received three national awards in recognition of his work, the Geological Society of America Kirk Bryan Award, Gladys Cole Award, and the Geological Society of America Farouk El-Baz Award. These accolades are a tremendous honor, and without a doubt, Dr. Wells’ work warrants this recognition.

I ask my colleagues and all Nevadans to join me in thanking Dr. Wells for his dedication to DRI throughout the past 16 years. He exemplifies the highest standards of leadership and service and should be proud of his meaningful career. I wish him well in all of his future endeavors and in his new role with the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

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