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Desert Research Institute President Kristen Averyt on March 13, 2019 during a recording of the IndyMatters podcast. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Desert Research Institute President Kristen Averyt announced her resignation on Monday, citing personal reasons. It is effective at the end of the month. In the interim, Averyt, DRI’s first female president who was recruited from the University of Colorado, Boulder, is on leave starting Tuesday after serving two years as president and pledging to raise DRI’s profile.

“I am taking this step for personal reasons,” Averyt said in a statement released by DRI. “While it was a difficult decision to come to, I believe it is in the best interest of the institution.”

DRI’s Interim Vice President of Research Kumud Acharya, an ecological engineer, will lead the research institute as it begins the search for a new president. A separate statement from the Nevada System of Higher Education said that higher education Chancellor Thom Reilly and two regents will host meetings at DRI in July to “determine how faculty, research support staff, and DRI Foundation members would like to proceed regarding the future leadership of DRI.”

DRI, which has campuses in Reno and Las Vegas, focuses on researching geoscience and helps provide applied science for state resource managers. It does not grant degrees.

Averyt, a climate scientist who participated in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and has worked on Colorado River issues, told The Nevada Independent earlier this year that she wanted to expand DRI’s role in the state and was exploring the option of granting Ph.Ds.

“I am proud of the work we’ve done to connect DRI’s mission with society, share the impact of the important research DRI performs across Nevada, and tell the inspiring stories of the remarkable people at the institute,” Averyt said on Monday. “When we as scientists share our passion and knowledge with our neighbors, friends, industry leaders, and elected officials, I truly believe we can strengthen the role of science in our decision-making and across society.”

In a statement, Reilly said that Averyt “helped build upon the institution’s successes and world-renowned reputation.”

“I want to thank her for her leadership and wish her all the best in her future pursuits,” he said.

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