Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:10 PM
DALE F. RITTER’S INFLUENCE ON QUATERNARY SCIENCES AT THE DESERT RESEARCH INSTITUTE (DRI): A VISION OF NEW SCIENTIFIC OPPORTUNITIES AND COLLABORATION
Dale (Dusty) Ritter was hired in 1990 as the Executive Director (dean-equivalent position) to provide leadership for the newly formed Quaternary Sciences Center (QSC) of DRI, the nonprofit research institution of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Dusty, clearly established as a renowned geomorphologist, applied his creativity to a broader mission: assembling, leading, and inspiring a collection of geomorphologists, archaeologists, and paleoecologists, and forever changed the portfolio of DRI’s research endeavors. Dusty passionately believed that the scientific opportunities addressed under the banner of Quaternary Sciences (a) addressed the need for interdisciplinary research to solve innovative and significant scientific problems; (b) stimulated effective collaboration and addressed the academic paradigm of turf protection; and (c) contributed to major societal concerns such as global climate change and balanced environmental policies. Under his leadership, the QSC programs expanded to include Cold War Archaeology, the preservation of historical artifacts and structures from the atomic testing era; created the E.L. Cord Geochronology Laboratory, applying luminescence dating to geological and archaeological materials and at the time one of only three such facilities in the USA; grew DRI’s research capabilities in eolian processes, now one of the institution’s recognized core capabilities; fostered interdisciplinary paleoenvironmental reconstructions and archaeological studies of the Great Basin; and focused on young talent to better understand desert processes and resulting landforms. The legacy of Dusty’s vision continues today in which a robust group of geomorphologists, paleoecologists, and archaeologists work collaboratively with biologists, ecologists, microbiologists, hydrologists, and atmospheric scientists to bring international recognition to DRI.