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Home | Tag Archives: New Mexico State University

Tag Archives: New Mexico State University

Two NMSU professors selected for NSF program director appointments

New Mexico State University professors Michael Hout, psychology associate professor, and Tiziana Giorgi, mathematical sciences professor, will be spending the next year, with the option of a second year in Alexandria, Virginia, working as program directors for the National Science Foundation.

Giorgi was selected as program director in the Applied Mathematics Program of the Division of Mathematical Sciences while Hout will serve as program director for the Perception, Action, and Cognition Program in the Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences.

“These appointments demonstrate the outstanding caliber of our faculty at NMSU,” said Enrico Pontelli, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The NSF recognizes Dr. Hout and Dr. Giorgi’s research accomplishments and ability to help other researchers as well.”

Their appointments begin this month. Both Giorgi and Hout will be on professional leave from NMSU while working with the NSF and will return to NMSU after their service.

“It will involve duties like overseeing grant reviews and panels, providing feedback to applicants and ultimately deciding which grants get funded in my area,” Hout said. “During my time in Virginia, I’ll be on unpaid professional leave, but still will maintain my research labs and mentorship here at NMSU as the NSF allows me a considerable amount of time for my research duties.”

Giorgi hopes to work on building bridges between students and the job market. She will be in a position to encourage principal investigators on NSF research grants to spend some of their time thinking about how to organically join the research of their students with training for jobs inside or outside academia.

“I hope that my tenure at the NSF will help me better understand the philosophy and mechanisms of government initiatives, so as to better advise my colleagues on grant proposals, and students on future job placement,” Giorgi said. “Also, I hope to become engaged at a higher level with various professional organizations to help them become more effective in spanning the gap between the math profession and the job market.”

Mathematics professor and department head John Harding praised Giorgi’s abilities.

“The rotator position at the NSF is recognition that Tiziana is an outstanding researcher,” Harding said. “It is a tremendous opportunity for her and a great benefit to our department. She will help guide research in the field at the highest level, and bring back to the department insight into the direction of the major funding agency. We will miss her, and look forward to her return.”

After completing his seventh year at NMSU, Hout serves as the director of the Vision Sciences and Memory Laboratory in the Department of Psychology and is co-director of the multi-disciplinary Addison Care Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory with kinesiology department head Philip Post.

Hout’s research falls under the broad heading of visual cognition, including research into visual attention and memory and computational models of both.

“I wouldn’t have taken the NSF position if it meant stepping away from my research, my labs or my mentored students at NMSU,” Hout said. “As such, I’ll be juggling my work with the NSF and my research and mentorship duties throughout. Luckily, much of what I do can be done remotely or in collaboration with my students who are ‘on the ground’ in my labs. What can’t be done remotely will be done during my periodic trips back to NMSU.”

Hout is grateful to Pontelli and psychology department head Dominic Simon for their support in taking the NSF position.

“Based on his performance as a faculty member since he was hired by NMSU in 2013, I am certain that Mike will be a great asset to NSF, giving him the chance to see and to influence the bigger picture of research on perception, action and cognition within the U.S., and because of the strong influence that American research has on trends elsewhere, throughout the world,” Simon said. “We wish him well for his time away, but of course, we’ll also be very pleased to have him back in the department once his rotation as a director is completed.”

Giorgi’s primary research focus is in nonlinear partial differential equations with a current emphasis on applications to liquid crystals and display technology. She has been awarded several NSF grants, the most recent of which is a collaborative research proposal on field-induced mesophases.

Her current NSF award will be on hold while Giorgi serves her appointment as an NSF director but will devote some of her time to research-connected duties at NMSU.

“I will continue my research as well as advising my doctoral student in partial differential equations,” Giorgi said. “I will be traveling back to NMSU and visiting other universities periodically throughout the year for ongoing professional collaboration.”

A number of other NMSU faculty previously have been selected by the NSF to serve in these NSF appointments, which result in a benefit not only for the professors’ careers, but also for the NMSU students they engage when they return to campus.

“While we will miss them, they will continue their research remotely and mentor graduate students,” Pontelli said. “What they bring back to NMSU from their experience will significantly benefit our students.”

Author:  Minerva Baumann – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU welcomes Anna, Age Eight institute

On July 1, New Mexico State University became home to the Anna, Age Eight Institute, which seeks to prevent adverse childhood experiences among New Mexico’s children.

Under an agreement with Northern New Mexico College, where the institute was established in 2019, NMSU will house the institute within the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. This will allow the institute to work with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service infrastructure to expand its services throughout the state.

“We are pleased to welcome the Anna, Age Eight Institute to its new home here at NMSU,” said NMSU President John Floros. “The move will allow the institute to build on the good work that began at Northern New Mexico College to create a statewide network to support children and their families experiencing trauma and social adversity.”

Anna, Age Eight Institute uses a data-driven process focused on building the capacity of local government, non-governmental agencies and the business sector to provide the surviving and thriving services that community members need to strengthen health, safety and resilience.

“We are honored to have served as the host institution for the inaugural year of the Anna, Age Eight Institute at Northern New Mexico College,” said NNMC President Richard J. Bailey, Jr. “The Institute is the first of its kind in the nation, committed to overcoming – and ultimately eradicating – childhood and family trauma in our communities. We applaud the institute’s expansion into a statewide initiative under the leadership of our friends at New Mexico State University, and are committed to working together as a state on this ambitious but necessary endeavor.”

The institute’s co-directors are Katherine Ortega Courtney and Dominic Cappello. Cappello is a New York Times bestselling author with decades of experience advocating for public health, safety and systems of care. He and Courtney co-authored, “Anna, Age Eight: The data-driven prevention of childhood trauma and maltreatment,” a call-to-action for each state to end adverse childhood experiences, trauma, social adversity and health disparities.

Courtney earned a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Texas Christian University, where she studied at the Institute of Behavioral Research. Courtney worked with the State of New Mexico for eight years, first as the Juvenile Justice Epidemiologist, then as bureau chief of the Child Protective Services Research, Assessment and Data Bureau.

Gregory Sherrow serves as the institute’s director of information technology and communications. Sherrow has decades of experience in creating educational, nonprofit and commercial technology solutions.

As part of the agreement with Northern New Mexico College, NMSU will continue to support the institute’s work in three pilot counties – Socorro, Rio Arriba and Doña Ana – in implementing its 100% Community Initiative. NMSU will also continue to support work in Taos Pueblo, and Santa Fe and San Miguel counties.

For more information about the institute, visit their website.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

Longtime NMSU research program director retires, leaves lasting impact on students

Throughout the last two decades, Michael Johnson has made it his mission to educate and empower underrepresented students in biomedical research as the director of the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program at New Mexico State University.

“He has been an incredible director, an incredible leader, and a really great role model,” said MARC Program Coordinator Mary Jo Ruthven. “He has always been incredibly student focused, and that’s important. That students know there’s someone they can look up to that has their goals as a central focus.”

The MARC program, which was first funded at NMSU in 1977, is an undergraduate training program from the National Institutes of Health intended to diversify the pool of biomedical researchers by preparing underrepresented students for completion of research-focused Ph.D., M.D./Ph.D., or other combined Ph.D. and professional degrees.

Johnson, a Regents Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry will retire from NMSU on July 1, after teaching at NMSU for nearly 30 years.

Since his appointment as the director of the MARC program in 1997, it has brought in more than $15 million to NMSU and trained more than 300 students. During that time, the program has also expanded to provide more activities for students to supplement their research training.

“We’ve expanded the program from simply just supporting research to having various classroom activities that students can participate in. We’ve established a research seminar series for the students and we now have a wide variety of training components in professional development topics such as applying to graduate schools and interviewing,” said Johnson.

While Johnson says he is proud of these accomplishments, the passion behind directing the program has always been about playing an active role in nurturing student growth.

“Being the MARC program director has been the highlight of my academic career at NMSU,” said Johnson. “It has truly been a wonderful experience to be able to help and to watch students go out and have incredible careers and do amazing things.”

NMSU alumnus Bobby Brooke Herrera, chief scientific officer and cofounder of E25 Bio, credits much of his current success to the opportunities provided by the MARC program and the guidance of his mentors, including Johnson.

“The MARC Program was incremental in my academic and professional career and I don’t think I would be where I am today had it not been for MARC,” said Herrera. “Dr. Johnson is an amazing mentor, which I think has had an impact on my life, but also other individuals’ lives that I am close to and who were in the MARC [program].

“So, he not only becomes a professor, academic, professional figure, but in many ways, he also becomes a friend. And in this case, for me, a father figure.”

For another NMSU alumnus, Eduardo Davila, the impact of the MARC program and the mentorship from Johnson has extended well beyond his collegiate years.

“It was through his continued guidance and mentorship, even beyond my time at NMSU, that really contributed to molding my service to the underrepresented community,” said Davila, now the Amy Davis Chair of Basic Immunology Research and professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado.

Davila said it was Johnson’s mentorship that was instrumental in helping him lead an NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and that Johnson served as a great role model to him.

“It’s hard to find people that care for the sake of caring, and for no other reason, and [Johnson] is one of those people. He just really wants to see people accomplish the best, do their best and succeed, with no expectation of repayment,” said Davila.

Following Johnson’s retirement from NMSU, the MARC program is now be under the directorship of two current MARC mentors, Regents Professor Graciela A. Unguez from the Department of Biology and Assistant Professor Ivette Guzman from the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

Unguez and Guzman, who have been mentors in the program for 17 and three years respectively, said they are grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Johnson as mentors in the program, and are excited to continue building on the decades of success from Johnson and his predecessors.

As the program moves forward, the new directors want to continue expanding the program by bringing in more students and broadening the scope of research opportunities.

“We aim to increase our presence in courses across campus that have a biomedical application or research component to educate students that this program does not require research at the bench or ‘wet lab,'” said Unguez. “We will also reach out to more faculty whose research focus fits within the biomedical mission of the NIH – ranging from public health and social sciences to molecular chemistry using microbes, plants or animals.”

Unguez and Guzman will see the program through the end of its current funding cycle in May 2022, at which point the program directors will apply for the National Institutes of Health Undergraduate Research Training Initiative for Student Enhancement (U-RISE) Program. The U-RISE program follows the same mission of the MARC program but does not require that the trainees be in the honors college.

Johnson said he looks forward to seeing the future of the program continue to flourish under the directorship of Unguez and Guzman.

Author: Kaitlin Englund – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

UTEP, TTUHSC El Paso, NMSU, EPCC, DACC unite to encourage community blood donations

The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso), New Mexico State University, El Paso Community College and Doña Ana Community College are uniting efforts to encourage the community to donate blood and save lives.

A combined goal of 100 pints of blood is set for a two-day blood drive that will take place on the UTEP and TTUHSC El Paso campuses.

The blood drive will take place from noon to 6 p.m., June 25 and 26 at the El Paso Natural Gas Conference Center on the UTEP campus and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., June 25 in Academic Education Classroom 221 on the TTUHSC El Paso campus.

“It’s great to see UTEP and all other universities working together to assure there is blood on the shelves for the community we serve; it’s truly amazing!” said Martin Gomez, donor recruitment manager at Vitalant.

“Blood should always be there waiting for patients. Patients should never have to wait for the blood.”

To ensure that blood donors are in a safe environment that upholds local health ordinances and social distancing protocols, appointments made in advance are required.

Appointments can be made at (search for sponsor code “UTEP” or “TexasTech”) or by calling 877-258-4825.

Blood donors are required to wear face coverings during the drive.

NMSU system releases detailed plan for fall return to campus

New Mexico State University system leaders this week released a comprehensive plan for the university’s return to campus operations for the fall 2020 semester.

Prepared by the university’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Team and titled “NMSU Ready,” the document outlines the steps the university will take to ensure a welcoming and functional campus environment when classes begin on Aug. 19.

NMSU Vice Chancellor and Chief COVID-19 Officer Ruth A. Johnston, who leads the Rapid Response Team, said the plan, while as thorough as possible right now, is not the final word on operations for the fall semester.

“This plan is a living document informed by our colleges and service units,” Johnston said in a memo to employees announcing the plan’s release, “and we know that updates will be needed as the knowledge about this disease advances and best practices evolve. In fact, we expect to hear from you about ways that it can be refined and improved.”

The NMSU Ready plan is also subject to changing guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Mexico Department of Health, and NMSU experts, she said.

Topic areas covered in the plan include expectations for employees relating to in-person staffing levels and telework; modifications to classroom spaces and technology to allow for social distancing; details about available “flex” and “hybrid” instructional models; plans for health and safety modifications to housing and dining facilities; and many other areas. It also provides additional detail on cleaning and disinfection protocols, departmental supplies, face coverings and other personal protective equipment, and how to report and respond to a positive test for COVID-19.

The complete plan document can be found online, where additional details and an archive of communications to the campus community are also posted.

Johnston and NMSU President John Floros will host an online town hall session at 3 p.m. Thursday, June 18, via Zoom to answer questions about the NMSU Ready plan and campus operations.

Links to access the session on Zoom or Panopto, as well as to submit questions in advance of the town hall, can be found via this link.

Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

Engineering scholarship created to honor NMSU alumnus’ legacy

As a member of the military, James Sullivan traveled the world from Afghanistan to Kosovo and Massachusetts to Hawaii. He served in the United States Army and U.S. Army National Guard for 17 years.

Following his unexpected passing in December 2019, his mother, Teresa Sullivan, is continuing the two-time New Mexico State University alumnus’ legacy with a new scholarship in the College of Engineering. The James Scotti Sullivan Memorial Endowed Scholarship in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering will help undergraduate students earn degrees.

“I know what it was like to attend college on a limited budget, so I hope this will help others pay for their education,” Teresa Sullivan said.

“James was a very caring individual,” she said. “Giving candy to the kids in Kosovo. He had a great sense of humor and was always lots of fun – making pie every week and sharing it with others, entering his baking and cooking in state fairs. Always making those around him laugh.”

“This scholarship reflects a mother’s love and is a tribute to an amazing alum. Students will benefit from this gift for generations to come,” said Derek Dictson, NMSU Foundation president.

With a passion for learning, Sullivan attended eight postsecondary institutions. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 2004 and master’s degree in 2006 in mechanical engineering at NMSU while he was a member of the New Mexico National Guard.

“We are grateful to Mr. Sullivan for his many years of service to our nation,” said College of Engineering Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi. “It will be an honor to continue his legacy by using his generous gift to support those students who follow him in military service.”

The scholarship will be awarded to mechanical engineering majors, with a preference for students currently serving or having served in the U.S. Armed Forces or students enrolled in an ROTC program at NMSU.

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU Center for Academic Advising to host virtual career success workshop series

Entering the job market is never easy, but the COVID-19 pandemic is adding more challenges for people who are in search of a job. To ease the burden a little, New Mexico State University’s Center for Academic Advising and Student Support is hosting several virtual workshops to help students be prepared during this new normal.

The virtual workshop series will kick off with “Conducting a Job Search in COVID-19,” an interactive workshop where students will learn how to effectively tackle the job search during the pandemic. Students will learn how to market themselves to employers while they figure out their plans for handling recruiting and hiring during these unprecedented times.

This virtual workshop is scheduled for June 15 at 4:30 p.m. and June 22 at 1:30 p.m.

A résumé and cover letter workshop will follow, in which students are given the chance to discover the most effective way to align their accomplishments, skills and experiences for a great first impression.

This virtual workshop is scheduled for June 18 at 4:30 p.m. and June 24 at 10 a.m.

The Center for Academic Advising and Student Support will also offer a virtual interviewing workshop as employers are increasingly using online platforms and telephone screening in the interview process. Students will be shown a number of steps they can take before and after the interview to ensure that they make a good impression during the virtual interview.

This virtual workshop is scheduled for June 18 at 11 a.m. and June 25 at 4 p.m.

The last virtual workshop will explore how students can build their profile on LinkedIn. The Center for Academic Advising and Student Support says LinkedIn has 675 million users, which means nearly an unlimited supply of network connections and job opportunities. The virtual workshop will profile beginning, intermediate and advanced LinkedIn profile development and management.

This virtual workshop is scheduled for June 19 at 3 p.m. and June 29 at 9 a.m.

Students can register for the workshops in Handshake at

For more information or to make an appointment at alternate times, contact the Center for Academic Advising and Student Support Assistant Director Roseanne Bensley at 575-646-5374 or

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU doctoral students develop guide for coping with self-isolation

What was originally a way to say farewell to members of a New Mexico State University Counseling and Educational Psychology group counseling practicum has turned into a helpful guide for people still trying to cope with the mental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three CEP doctoral students – Ellen Ijebor, Cory Cascalheira and Shuo “Coco” Wang – developed the “Self-Isolation Survival Guide: Getting Through the Pandemic” after the university announced it would temporarily close campus facilities to the public, and that all courses would adopt an online-only format. The guide lists tips for stress management and self-care, dealing with grief and loss, and maintaining mindfulness, as well as several mental health resources.

“We actually had this assignment (in NMSU assistant professor Na-Yeun Choi’s class) where we were talking about creating some clinical topics that could benefit the students and the clinicians at the same time,” Wang said. “We were also doing groups with undergraduate students, and I remember we were talking in class that based on what is happening right now, students will need a lot of information on how to deal with this quarantine.”

Wang said she had heard from students who expressed difficulty in finding the motivation to concentrate on their coursework, while others struggled to balance work, home and school life while in self-isolation.

“We wanted to create something that can help the students, and at the same time we also think this can be helpful to use as well,” Wang said.

Cascalheira said when some of the student counseling groups moved to an online format, many of them found it difficult to log on because they didn’t have a comfortable, private space or they had internet access issues.

“We were really trying to figure out how can we say goodbye to them ethically,” Cascalheira said. “This was one way we could do that.”

Choi said that while the guide was meant for a specific group of people, it evolved into something that could be of value to the entire community.

“When this quarantine happened, they couldn’t say goodbye, so we talked about how we could benefit group members but they (the doctoral students) took it to a whole other level. It almost became like a survival guide for every student, and we felt that it might be beneficial to send out to the whole community,” Choi said.

Ijebor said that as she, Wang and Cascalheira worked on the guide, they were inspired to include information that would apply to a variety of people, not just students they worked with.

“As we started creating it, we just got so many ideas,” Ijebor said. “Even though it’s for students, there are so many students from different walks of life. We wanted to do something that encompassed all their struggles and identities. I think that’s why it became so applicable to a lot of people.”

The guide is available by clicking here.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

*For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU’s spring graduates prepare for virtual commencement ceremony

New Mexico State University’s spring commencement is going to look a little different this year. Instead of graduates hearing their name being called, walking across the stage at the Pan American Center in their caps and gowns to accept their degrees and celebrating with endless pictures with their friends and families, they will be walking across their living room and celebrating with friends and family over video calls.

Although the ceremony will be in a different location because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the accomplishments of the graduates are still something to celebrate.

“I would encourage each of the graduates to celebrate on what was supposed to be graduation day with those that they are with or do something that day that makes them happy,” said Lanie O’Hea, who will take part in the virtual commencement. “Spend the day not worrying about what the future holds, but reflecting on the hard work, dedication and perseverance that brought them to this moment and know that it is those same qualities that will support and drive them upwards into the unknown future.”

The virtual commencement ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. on May 16, 2020, and will feature graduates from all levels. Professional readers will virtually read the names of the 726 graduates who RSVP’d and the ceremony will feature speeches from NMSU’s president, chancellor, and Alumni Association, and a quarantine rendition of the Aggie Fight song from the NMSU Pride Band.

Gabrielle Martinez, NMSU’s graduation and curriculum data specialist, said the planning for the 2020 commencement ceremony starts the minute the 2019 ceremonies end and that hundreds of staff, students and faculty volunteers look forward to seeing the graduates on this significant day.

“In these uncertain times, with many events unable to continue as planned, deep down I knew we had to find a way to honor this day and our graduates’ many accomplishments,” Martinez said. “Each day and each semester that goes by, I know students put in a lot of time studying and engaging with the campus community in order to graduate.

“I love to see the culmination of their hard work at commencement with all our proud Aggie friends and family,” she added. “While the energy we feel at commencement cannot be replicated, I hope that graduates will continue to share their smiles, stories and successes online this year.”

O’Hea ,who will be receiving her master’s degree in communication studies, said it was very easy to feel sad about missing the opportunity to walk the stage for her master’s degree.

“Even though my graduate degree has only taken me a year and a half, it has been by far more work, effort and tears that have been put into it than my undergrad degree,” she said. “I was lucky enough to have parents who pushed me to walk the stage for my undergraduate, but I did that for them. The commencement this spring was going to be for me. That’s what makes this hard for me.”

Regan Nentwhich, who will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in animal science with minors in chemistry and business administration, said she was excited to celebrate this accomplishment with her family and show them around Las Cruces, but wouldn’t want to put her family at risk with the virus.

“I have no animosity towards the situation and I remain hopeful that I can walk in December with some of my other friends and celebrate with them,” Nentwhich said. “But it is in the best interest of everyone to remain home and have a virtual graduation. I definitely wouldn’t want my grandmother to be put at risk and attend just to see me walk across the stage.”

O’Hea said she feels selfish for being upset because the world is going through much greater things than walking across a stage, but she tries to focus on the positive she sees in the community.

“What’s keeping me positive is that our leaders in our community are doing everything they can to keep us safe. I have hope in the future because of them,” O’Hea said. “Less people are being affected because of this decision by our leaders and I appreciate that. Because at the end of the day, I care more about the world’s health than walking across a stage.”

Renay Scott, vice president of student success, said she understands that COVID-19 has impacted traditional celebrations for this important milestone.

“NMSU wanted to make a virtual commencement available as one way to celebrate until December, when we invite students back to celebrate during a traditional celebration,” Scott said. “The lack of a traditional commencement does not nullify the importance of the amazing accomplishment that each of our graduates has achieved.”

Nentwhich didn’t end up getting her cap and gown, but she plans to make it work the day of the ceremony.

“I’m going to create a makeshift cap and gown and have a virtual ceremony with family and friends to celebrate. I will then probably order take out and have some wine!” Nentwhich said.

O’Hea said she will also be celebrating that day with her husband and puppy, and making thank-you videos for the special people in her life.

“I am going to get ready, put on a dress and drape myself in my regalia. Graduation was going to be a time when I was going to get to be with my family and thank them for everything they’ve done for me and their support. So, in my regalia, I am going to film a special video for each family member and my colleagues, who I could not have done this without, and send it to them!”

The ceremony will be live streamed and available on NMSU Facebook, Youtube at NMSU YouTube and on   NMSU Panopto. KRWG-Channel 22 will be also be airing the ceremony for those graduates and their supporters.

Graduates are asked to join in the celebration in real time on social media with the hashtag #NMSUGrad.

For more information, click here.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU community comes together to give back during COVID-19 pandemic

New Mexico State University system faculty, staff and students have come together to lend a helping hand to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Outreach efforts across the university system have provided many types of assistance, such as food for the homeless, groceries for the vulnerable, personal protective equipment for area healthcare professionals and more.

Supplies for healthcare workers have been scarce nationwide, and Las Cruces is no exception. Leslie Beck, an extension weed specialist and assistant professor in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, saw the dire situation and donated excess personal protection equipment from her lab, adding to the supplies gathered and distributed by NMSU’s Police Department. Beck donated 2,000 gloves, 125 disposable Tyvek coveralls and one box of dust masks.

“Most heroes don’t wear capes,” Beck said. “But here’s to hoping that from this point on, they are able to wear the appropriate PPE to protect themselves in the line of duty!”

In the College of Engineering, the Aggie Innovation Space has created more than more than 400 face shields for healthcare workers. They plan to create 300 more this week.

In the College of Business, Rajaa Shindi, an assistant professor of accounting, is collaborating with Healthcare Pharmacy, a locally owned pharmacy, to collect sanitizers, detergents and gloves to be donated to local medical personnel and their families to stay safe in their homes.

Nancy McMillan, department head of geological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences and parishioner at St. Andrew’s Episcopal church, partnered up with the Player’s Grill to host a potluck on Easter Sunday for people living in Camp Hope, the tent city associated with the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope. After the stay-at-home order was mandated throughout the state, McMillan had to be creative to make sure the St. Andrew’s tradition of a monthly potluck supper, called Second Sunday Supper, continued.

“We decided to get single serving boxes. So, we were looking at the catering and deli places in town and then I got an email from the

Nancy McMillian, department head of geological sciences, stands with a volunteer in front of the NMSU golf course to pick up food to deliver to Camp Hope. | Photo courtesy NMSU

Player’s Grill, the restaurant at the NMSU Golf Course,” McMillan said.

“It said we know you can’t come to our restaurant but, if you have any need for catering or anything else think of us. I really want to keep my staff employed. It was really heartwarming. Through donations from church members, we were able to continue our tradition of fellowship at Camp Hope and support staff working at the Player’s Grill.”

Because many basic essentials on store shelves have in short supply due to the pandemic, Zooey Sophia Pook, director of NMSU’s LGBT+ Programs, started a campaign to help find and deliver essential items to the elderly and disabled who have difficulty getting supplies they need. Pook is receiving three to four emails a day asking for items such as toilet paper and food. Along with James Rice, an NMSU professor of sociology, Pook has been delivering items daily.

If you know someone in need of essential supplies, email Pook at

NMSU faculty and staff are not the only ones giving back. NMSU alumnus Lawrence Chavez, CEO of EveryDay Contacts, has donated more than 165 gallons of hand sanitizer to homeless shelters and healthcare providers through his company.

The kinesiology department in the College of Education is making sure parents and kids in the community continue to stay active. Amanda Concha, the Aggie Play coordinator, has created a series of online work out videos for kids to have fun while staying active. To participate in the Aggie Play workouts, visit YouTube channel.

“I have been greatly encouraged to learn of the efforts of my colleagues at NMSU on behalf of the community,” Beck said. “We are working together and doing what we can to help those who are on the front lines and those who may be struggling.”

NMSU President John Floros said the efforts of Aggie employees, students and alumni are inspiring, and show the connection the university system has to the communities it serves.

“There are dozens of examples of these kinds of collaboration and service efforts being undertaken by our Aggie community,” Floros said. “It’s a testament to who we are and how we deal with challenges and adversity. I could not be more proud of our generous and compassionate Aggies.”

Author: Amanda Adame – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU collaborates in webinar on food safety risk assessment for farmers

In response to the uncertainty of how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact farmers’ markets this summer, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service continues to work with growers to help them qualify for various market opportunities.

One opportunity is for New Mexico growers to provide fresh vegetables and fruit for public school meals through the state’s Farm to School program.

“There are requirements that they must meet to qualify for the program,” said Bonnie Hopkins, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in San Juan County. “One is that the farmer has performed a food safety risk assessment of their farm.”

NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences provides training in the risk assessment process.

With the social distancing order from state officials during the coronavirus outbreak, the delivery of the on-farm and classroom training was changed to webinars and online self-study courses.

“We are presenting the first two tiers of the food safety training virtually to help farmers qualify as vendors to sell produce to public schools,” said John Garlisch, NMSU Extension agricultural agent in Bernalillo County.

“We have taken the information they would have received during an on-farm training and distilled it down to digestible bites for farmers who have never taken food safety training,” Garlisch said.

“This training is proactive,” Hopkins said. “It provides farmers with an awareness of good practices and the tools to conduct an assessment to ensure they are providing safe food.”

The online training program – a first-of-its-kind delivery for New Mexico farmers – is a collaboration between Garlisch, Hopkins, Denise Miller of the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association and Valerie Smith of La Monañita Coop.

The webinar and self-study program is provided free to New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association members. Association membership is $25, and scholarships are available.

For more information about the training, click here.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU


For updates on all news from around Las Cruces, please visit our news partners at Las Cruces Today

NMSU experts offer tips to keep immune system in check, avoid weight gain during COVID19

These days, many people are staying safe at home in self-quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking advantage of entertainment-streaming apps and indulging in comfort foods in times of stress.

Two experts at New Mexico State University suggest that healthy eating, combined with physical activity, will not only keep weight gain at bay, but also help boost your body’s immunity.

“During stressful times, nourishing your body is important to fuel the body to handle needs as well as maintain your immune system,” said Karen Plawecki, food and nutrition Extension specialist for the Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department in the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. “Stressors can often poorly influence food choices.”

Joseph Berning, professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Dance in the NMSU College of Education, said in order to maintain a highly functional immune system, people must take daily care of their bodies, including getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night, daily exercise and eating healthy.

“Although it might be difficult to moderate stress in the present crisis, one can control their food and fluid intake and well as their cleanliness, sleep and exercise habits,” Berning said. “When people find themselves locked away, the temptation to eat, sit and lounge around becomes more of an attractive prospect. This combination only leads to poor health outcomes.”

So how does one stay healthy while confined in their home? Plawecki said because snacking can easily turn into grazing, especially during times of stress, aim to be proactive and plan for snacks to eat when hungry.

“Keep nutrient-rich snack foods easily available to choose readily,” Plawecki said.

She also suggested these strategies for easy access to nutrient-rich foods:

• Keep fruit that doesn’t need to be refrigerated on the counter. Wash fruit right before you eat.
• Keep fruits that need to be refrigerated stored in the front of other items in the refrigerator.
• Wash and chop or slice vegetables for snacks to be eaten within two or three days. When prepping vegetables for a meal, chop extra for snacks to save time.
• Slice cheese blocks into snack-sized portions to eat alone or with crackers.
• Boil eggs and keep them refrigerated for up to a week.
• Snacks like yogurt and nuts are quick options when hungry.
• Keep comfort foods out of easy reach.

However, Plawecki said comfort foods are allowed, as long as portion sizes are kept in mind and diners are mindful while eating, meaning distractions such as TVs and cellphones are removed while savoring your favorite meals.

Plawecki also suggests that before snacking or indulging in your favorite meal, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry.

“Physical hunger shows up in physical cues – stomach growling, lightheadedness, headaches, irritability and low energy levels,” Plawecki said. “Boredom, stress, anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness are examples of conditions mistaken for hunger.”

One way to better manage stress and anxiety is to exercise, Berning said.

“People who perform regular daily exercise live longer, experience less damaging health risks, experience fewer sick days per year, sleep better, perform better academically, decrease stress and maintain a high quality of life,” Berning said.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people should work toward obtaining 150 minutes of moderate to high intensity aerobic exercise a week, plus two to three days a week of resistance training. But how is that possible when many state governments have mandated the closures of gyms and fitness centers?

“For cardiovascular exercise you can walk, jog, run, ride a bike or go hiking away from crowds,” Berning said. “Relative to resistance training, we have gravity. You don’t need fancy equipment. The body doesn’t know if it’s lifting a five-gallon bucket filled with water or a 40-pound barbell. The simple truth is 40 pounds is 40 pounds.”

Berning said even using your own body weight allows for endless resistance exercises. Basic examples include squats, lunges, sit-ups, jumping jacks, push-ups and stretching.

“Remember, ‘exercise is medicine’ and the best means of enhancing your immune system and fending off disease,” Berning said.

Beginning in May, the Bernalillo and Mora county Extension offices, along with NMSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, will present the “Stress Management – Thriving in Today’s Demanding World” online workshop series from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursdays. The series will offer tips on maintaining family resilience, stress management and healthy nutrition.

For more information, click here, or contact Mora County Extension Agent Suzanne DeVos-Cole at

For more health, wellness, family life, nutrition, food and food safety resources, visit the ACES webpage.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU


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NMSU offers free online fitness classes amid statewide gym closures

The last fitness class Tammy Gutierrez taught at New Mexico State University was on March 18. The next day, gyms, recreation centers, health clubs and spas across New Mexico shuttered by order of the state’s health secretary to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

For Gutierrez, a longtime NMSU fitness instructor with a dedicated following of exercise enthusiasts, the closure of NMSU’s James B. Delamater Activity Center was disheartening as it abruptly ceased all in-person Aggie Fit classes for the foreseeable future.

“At first, we started limiting our class sizes and went from having 20 to 30 people in a class to only 10,” she said, “but then overnight, we had to cancel our classes – which was very traumatic.”

Recently, however, Gutierrez and other NMSU fitness instructors returned to teaching their popular Aggie Fit classes in a new online format offered through Zoom, a videoconferencing platform. More than 20 fitness classes are now live-streamed five days a week – at no cost to participants, regardless if they’re Aggie Fit members or not.

“Our online fitness classes are providing a sense of normalcy for people and a sense of community and belonging during this challenging time,” said Amanda Blair, Aggie Health and Wellness Center assistant director. “That’s because participants are able to reconnect with the people they knew in their yoga or aerobics classes. So far, everyone’s been enthusiastic to see their classmates in our new Zoom classes.”

After a two-week hiatus, a selection of Aggie Fit classes moved online beginning April 6. But plans to offer online fitness classes had been well underway before the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of NMSU’s Activity Center, Blair said. These efforts, she added, ultimately aided in the quick launch of the Zoom class series.

“Online programming had been on the back burner and something we were already looking into,” she said.

The current online offerings include a mix of yoga and aerobics classes – all accessible on the NMSU Recreational Sports website via the “Schedules” tab. NMSU students, staff or faculty who want to participate in a class must first create a Zoom account and download the app on a computer or mobile device. Then, they can join a class by either clicking the Zoom links on the Aggie Fit fitness schedule or entering the meeting ID directly in Zoom.

The response so far from online participants has been largely positive, Gutierrez said.

“Because we’re offering a way for our community to stay connected and stay physically fit during these stressful times, people are so grateful,” she said.

Gutierrez and Blair acknowledge that the online classes differ from traditional classes and present unique challenges. For example, participants may not have access to free weights that some classes require, so instructors encourage them to use items they may have in their homes, such as heavy water jugs or canned goods.

But the move to Zoom hasn’t affected the quality of the classes, Blair said, and participants with all levels of experience can benefit from the workouts. Gutierrez noted that the Zoom classes give participants the convenience of exercising in the comfort of their homes, leaving behind the hassle of having to go to the Activity Center between work or class breaks.

To ensure online participants have the best experience possible, Gutierrez is placing more emphasis on her verbal instructions when she teaches on Zoom, she said.

“They’re relying on my voice to help coach them through each move,” she said, “since I’m not able to help them in person.”

Gutierrez also encourages participants in her Zoom classes to play music during her workouts – but keeping themselves on mute – to keep themselves motivated.

The current roster of Aggie Fit classes is available through Zoom until May 15. But, Blair said, plans are in the works to continue the classes through the summer and fall.

“The feedback I’ve received is good,” she said, “so I definitely envision us having a presence online and growing our offerings.”

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU


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NMSU, DACC receive nearly $5 million NSF grant to help students earn engineering degrees

New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College have been awarded a five-year, almost $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The funds will support scholarships and guided pathways to help students earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering.

“The proposed project will contribute to establishing a successful two- to four-year pathway model between DACC and NMSU College of Engineering, through enhancing the current DACC-NMSU transfer model, initiating a concurrent enrollment model, providing near-peer mentoring and faculty advising, and utilizing data analytics to identify students’ academic performance in near real time,” said Muhammad Dawood, Klipsch School of Electrical Engineering professor and NMSU’s principal investigator. “The project will also undertake activities to increase the math proficiency of the scholars and enhance metacognition-based study practices, initiating growth mindset and enhancing engineering identity.”

NMSU’s College of Engineering received $3,745,040 and DACC received $1,247,737 for the “Pathways for the Successful Transfer and Retention of Engineering Students from Two-to Four-year College in New Mexico,” a collaboration that is part of NSF’s Scholarship in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, which is focused on increasing the number of low-income academically talented students with demonstrated financial need who earn degrees in STEM fields. The grant is believed to be DACC’s first from NSF.

The award funds need- and talent-based scholarships up to $10,000 per year, and provides guided pathways for DACC students in the Manufacturing and Engineering Program who transfer to NMSU to pursue bachelor’s degrees in NMSU’s College of Engineering.

“Thanks to NSF, this grant will not only provide scholarship money for DACC students planning to transfer to the College of Engineering at NMSU, but it will also provide both academic and student support services to facilitate the transfer,” said Joe Butler, dean of the Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and principal investigator at DACC. “I thank Dr. Muhammed Dawood for masterminding this collaboration which will benefit students at both institutions.”

Dawood credits the award to more than two years of work between NMSU and DACC, including DACC’s Science, Engineering and Mathematics Division and Institutional Analysis along with NMSU’s College of Engineering, Student Success Center, Aggie Pathway, New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation, College of Education, Graduate School and Office of Institutional Analysis.

“I am very pleased with the efforts and the collegiality demonstrated by more than 18 individuals from these departments spanned over two campuses,” Dawood said. “This not only serves as a successful model of collaboration between the two campuses, it bodes well for the success of our students who are at the center of our efforts.

“Given the current COVID-19 environment, recruitment of the scholars into the program will be a challenge, as would be the delivery of many programmatic activities, workshops and the Math Summer Boot Camp,” Dawood said. “Efforts are afoot to not only approach and access the currently enrolled engineering-bound DACC students, but also expand our outreach to the high schools in the area.”

The program began April 1. Students and families interested in learning more about this scholarship can contact Dawood at or Butler at jbutler@dacc.nmsu.ed

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU


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NMSU Regents approve 3% tuition increase, state budget contribution still uncertain

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has approved a 3 percent increase in tuition for the 2020-2021 academic year for NMSU’s Las Cruces campus. There was not an increase in tuition for NMSU’s community colleges.

University leaders said the revenue was needed to support additional student scholarships and because of continued uncertainty with the state’s budget contribution to the university for the coming year.

“It is unfortunate that we have to make a decision on tuition without a clear picture of the level of financial support we’ll receive this year from the state of New Mexico,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “Under any scenario, however, a tuition increase was going to be necessary.”

New Mexico is an oil exporter and its state budget relies heavily on the price of oil. Due to multiple economic factors around the world, the price of oil has dropped dramatically over the past several weeks.

Even with the increased tuition rate, NMSU’s net price – the amount students pay to attend the university, minus scholarships and financial aid – continues to be the most affordable in the state and among the most competitive in the nation.

“We have received some very student-centric guidance from our Board of Regents,” Arvizu said. “They have made it clear how important it is for us to keep higher education accessible for our students. That’s why all of this additional revenue will go back into scholarships for our students.”

Even with the tuition increase, the university still projects a deficit for the coming year. The size of the deficit will depend on how much funding the university receives from the state Legislature, and will be addressed through careful financial stewardship.

Author: Justin Bannister – NMSU


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