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Home | Tag Archives: New Mexico State University (page 3)

Tag Archives: New Mexico State University

NMSU Master’s Accelerated Degree Program Allows Students to Take Graduate Courses while Pursuing Undergrad Degree

New Mexico State University’s Honors College and Graduate School are giving top students the chance to take Graduate School for a test drive while still pursuing their undergrad degree through the Master’s Accelerated Program.

Select students will be permitted to enroll in graduate-level classes and if they remain at NMSU for graduate studies their credits will roll over into their graduate degree.

Not every department is able to participate and it is up to the departments to determine a student’s eligibility. The minimum GPA needed to apply for a Master’s Accelerated degree program is a 3.0, the same requirement for admission to grad programs, but departments can choose to use more rigorous criteria.

Students who have completed 60 credit hours of classes may apply for the MAP and once accepted, students must submit to Graduate School their approved course list for the classes each semester. Students completing the graduate level course with a B or better can have that count toward a graduate degree.

Dean of the Honors College Miriam Chaiken said she sees many students beginning their undergraduate studies with college credits earned while in high school.

“For those students entering college with credits they have accumulated through AP or dual credit classes, they have the flexibility to include some graduate-level classes in their undergraduate program,” Chaiken said.

Students will be able to take a maximum of 12 graduate credits while pursuing their undergrad degree and 6 of those credits can be counted as honors credits to go toward graduation with the University Honors recognition. The MAP option allows students to triple dip, earning credits that count toward their undergraduate degree, Honors and graduate program.

“From the point of view of the student, this is a great opportunity, they show prospective graduate programs that they are capable of graduate level work, and they get these credits to count toward graduating with University Honors,” Chaiken said.

Daniel Estupinan, a business major, is currently taking graduate classes through MAP and said it has provided him with many opportunities, including being able to gain admission to the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship Program at the University of California – Berkeley.

“The Master’s Accelerated Program gave me an opportunity to explore my interests in educational leadership using the unique skills and perspectives I have acquired while studying Finance. This experience proved highly valuable during my participation in the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship at UC Berkeley, where I explored the role of public finance in promoting greater equity in public education,” Estupinan said.

Estupinan was also recently invited by the Harvard Graduate School of Education to visit Harvard and meet with some of their faculty members and graduate students. Harvard University is paying for the whole experience and Estupinan said he believes his participation in the MAP is what helped set him on this journey.

MAP is currently available through some departments and Chaiken suggests that interested students should meet with their department heads to discuss this possibility.

The Honors College will also host a workshop for interested students about the Master’s Accelerated Program on Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m. in the Commons Room. Chaiken said they hope to significantly grow the number of participants in the MAP in the coming year, as it opens up many opportunities for students.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU

NMSU Develops New Food Science, Human Nutrition Ph.D. Program

A new Ph.D. program being developed at New Mexico State University will give students the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree in food science and human nutrition, and will benefit New Mexico-based food processors and human nutrition organizations through innovative research.

The program will be the first of its kind in New Mexico and one of a few in the United States that combine food science and human nutrition into a single Ph.D. program, said Efren Delgado, assistant professor in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“Our dream with this program is to make it a leading program for food safety, innovation in research, and teaching and outreach in food science and human nutrition,” said Delgado, who has been spearheading efforts to develop the new program over the past year.

“It will be a strong program with an emphasis on innovative research that will contribute to the economic and social development in the region,” Delgado added. “Our research within the program will directly impact the citizens of New Mexico through direct cooperation with food-processing companies and human nutrition organizations.”

According to Delgado, companies in the food industry expressed support for a Ph.D. program in the Southwest region that focused on food science and human nutrition.

“In our talks with private food-processing companies, there was a strong need for specialists in food science technology, as well as a need to bring people from other states to work for the companies,” he said.

Currently, Delgado said, there are only six Ph.D. programs in the nation that combine food science and human nutrition.

At NMSU, student interest in a such a doctoral program also has been increasing, Delgado said. While NMSU offers master’s programs in both fields of study, the university lacks Ph.D. programs in those areas, meaning students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in either field took part in programs in other departments but had to be co-advised by the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, or they left NMSU for other universities.

“This program will increase our number of graduate students in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department,” he said.

This fall, the program will go to the university for approval, then it will go to the New Mexico Higher Education Department for final approval, Delgado said. While the approval process can vary in length, Delgado remains optimistic that the program’s first cohort of students could begin their coursework as soon as the fall 2019 semester.

Delgado anticipates that the program will take about three years to complete.

As part of the program, students will work directly with NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service, the research-based outreach arm of the College of ACES that has a presence in all 33 counties in New Mexico, and take classes taught by Extension agents.

“These classes will allow students to go out into the communities, to the producers, and see what their needs are,” Delgado said. “We want the students to see that their research can help others.”

Delgado also sees additional benefits in having the program based along the U.S.-Mexico border, considering the newly revamped trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

“This will likely intensify the import of food products from Mexico, and the Ph.D. program will support the trade,” he said.

The program also will benefit from three proposed projects by the College of ACES that will be funded through general obligation bonds totaling $25 million, Delgado said.

If approved by voters in November, the funds will be used to construct three new facilities at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus: food science security and safety facility, animal nutrition and feed manufacturing facility and biomedical research center.

The new facilities, Delgado said, will offer a state-of-the-art working and research environment for the new Ph.D. program. For detailed information about the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, visit the FCS website.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

Report Values Economic Impact of NMSU’s College of ACES at $266 Million

An independent report examining the work of New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences calls the college, its Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service systems “a unique and valuable resource for New Mexico.”

The report, produced by consultants from TEConomy Partners of Columbus, Ohio, notes that “together, ACES, the Experiment Station System, Extension and academic programs represent a uniquely pragmatic system, designed to meet very real needs across the state for knowledge and actionable information and dedicated to imparting the skills required to put knowledge into action for the betterment of New Mexico’s economy and society.”

“This study quantifies the impacts of ACES in New Mexico, a very important step in the understanding of the value that NMSU brings to New Mexico’s agriculture and consumer well-being,” said Rolando A. Flores, dean of the College of ACES. “In times when budgets are tight due to strong economic pressures, the importance of educating students and all New Mexicans on the value of agriculture for the present and future is extremely critical, this study brings more light on the effectiveness of ACES in teaching, research and Extension as part of the land-grant role.”

The ACES system was found to be generating substantial economic benefits for New Mexico and New Mexicans. The report summarizes more than 70 programs and initiatives at ACES having strong impacts on the state.

Just six examples of work in advancing New Mexico’s important agricultural economy were found to generate positive impacts exceeding $190 million annually in the state. Overall, it is estimated that the full range of work by the college, Experiment Station and Extension Systems, just in terms of benefits to the state’s agricultural economy, probably exceeds $266 million in economic impact annually, supporting over 2,650 jobs with labor income of almost $76 million.

Similarly, work by ACES focused on improving the health of New Mexicans, and positive outcomes for youth, are illustrated in the report, with impacts upwards of $41.7 million annually highlighted. The report notes that “it is clear that the diverse work of NMSU ACES in research and the focused work to deploy research findings into action across New Mexico undertaken by Extension is having large-scale and wide-ranging economic and societal benefits across the state.”

“The mission of the Cooperative Extension Service is to provide the citizens of New Mexico with practical, research-based knowledge and programs that improve their quality of life,” said Jon C. Boren, associate dean and director of the Cooperative Extension Service. “The Cooperative Extension Service reaches about a third of New Mexico’s nearly 2 million residents through non-formal education programs in each of the state’s 33 counties. These programs not only improve the quality of life of New Mexicans but also improve community development across the state.”

The report highlights the benefits of gaining higher education through the college’s degree programs. It notes that recent bachelor’s degree graduates are expected to earn $11,761 above the median state wage and that the most recent graduating class from ACES (comprising 333 students with bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees) are anticipated collectively to earn over $171 million more over the course of their working lives versus those with lower levels of educational credentials.

The report measures the impact of the expenditures of ACES, the Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension system in New Mexico, noting that these operations generated a total expenditure impact in New Mexico of $132.3 million for FY2016/17 and supported 1,204 jobs with a labor income of $65.4 million. NMSU Cooperative Extension expenditures account for 451 jobs and $49.9 million of the economic output, while the Experiment Station system accounts for 551 jobs and $62.7 million in output.

Given the importance to demonstrate the economic impact of the College of ACES, TEConomy was commissioned to provide an outside review of the economic and functional impact to New Mexico. TEConomy has a proven track record in advanced economic and functional impact assessments.

TEConomy has evaluated the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and conducted impact assessments for multiple colleges of agriculture, experiment station systems, and/or Extension services in the U.S. including those at Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University, University of Nebraska and University of Missouri.

In the report, TEConomy points out that “knowledge, and its twin, innovation, are at the heart of modern economic and societal progress. Knowledge underpins both individual and collective prospects for success in an increasingly complex and competitive global economy.”

The report highlights that the NMSU ACES system “forms a knowledge production and education system that not only serves the academic community and students enrolled at NMSU, but also one that rather uniquely applies its knowledge to benefit the broader economy, society, communities, families and individuals across New Mexico through the proactive work of Cooperative Extension.”

Every New Mexican can access NMSU ACES through Extension, gaining insight into diverse topics in farming, ranching, value-added industrial activity, natural resources, environmental sciences, community development, economic development, family and consumer science, youth development and a variety of additional fields of importance.

The report comes to the following conclusions:

While NMSU, as a Land-Grant University, has its origins in legislation originally written in 1862 (and the Agricultural Experiment Station in 1887, and Extension legislation in 1914), the Land-Grant vision embodied in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), its Experiment Station System and Cooperative Extension Service is as relevant today as it has ever been. Research, education, and the ability to put knowledge into action to enhance the economy is absolutely key to economic success in a highly competitive global economy. As this study illustrates, the three-component ACES system at NMSU is on the frontlines in these arenas, working to secure New Mexico”s current and future economic position, resiliency and success. At the same time, ACES is doing much more – undertaking work to protect New Mexico’s water and natural resources, to help families and individuals reach their full potential, and build healthy and productive communities across the state. It is found that the ACES system, while headquartered at NMSU in Las Cruces, is truly a statewide asset- providing benefits to all in the state and great promise for many more benefits into the future. By supporting the College, the Experiment Station System and Extension Service, governments at the federal, state and county levels are investing in the future sustainability, health and prosperity of New Mexico and New Mexicans, and this investment clearly demonstrates strong returns.

The full report is available for download via this link.

Author: Darrell J. Pehr – NMSU

Arrowhead Center’s Foster Innovation Exchange Aids Regional Entrepreneurs

On any given day, Richard Guadalupe McDonald, a Las Cruces biomedical researcher and former Army captain, has dozens of ideas for new and life-changing technologies running around his head.

Most recently, he’s been focused on a small device that he hopes will save military and civilian lives by providing a safer way to enhance visibility under dangerous conditions.

The only problem? Creating a prototype through the private sector to show to potential investors or other scientists for collaboration would cost at least $15,000 to $25,000, he estimates.

“I’m not Boeing,” McDonald said. “I can’t spend that much on each iteration of a prototype for this project.”

That’s where an initiative that rolled out last fall at Arrowhead Center, the entrepreneurship and innovation hub at New Mexico State University, comes in. Known as the Foster Innovation Exchange, or FIX, the initiative is funded by a $1 million gift in 2017 from Paul and Alejandra De La Vega Foster of El Paso, given as part of NMSU’s $125 million Ignite Aggie Discovery fundraising campaign.

FIX has two flagship programs – Community Entrepreneurship Partnerships and Product Design Awards. Zetdi Sloan, director of FIX, said the overarching goal of the programs is to create a space where innovative student- and community-based projects and partnerships can take shape.

“We’ve designed FIX to bring together researchers, students, industry, government and community into new collaboration opportunities that will help address some of the challenges that face the Borderplex region,” Sloan said.

McDonald received a FIX Product Design Award, allowing him to work with Arrowhead Center’s computer-assisted design team of engineering students, which helped him produce a 3-D printed prototype of his device’s exterior and advised him on how to purchase and integrate the technology’s micro-electronic components to create a prototype for under $200.

The new prototype represents a leap forward on McDonald’s path to publishing about the technology in an appropriate peer-reviewed journal and making it openly available worldwide.

“It takes that mountain out of the way: “Oh, this is impossible.” That’s the biggest hurdle,” he said. “You can actually move forward on your path. Often that’s the hurdle –  you need to show somebody something. Not a napkin drawing. When they can see and touch a prototype, you’ve already got their attention.”

Next up, he’ll be working with the team on miniaturizing the components and exploring what additional micro-instruments or features could potentially add value to the design.

Help like this is available to companies, inventors and entrepreneurs throughout New Mexico and the Borderplex region through the FIX Product Design Awards. Potential clients can apply for a competitive award of services in a growing list of specialties, including CAD modeling, microelectronics design, prototyping and manufacturing for physical products.

Sloan said the projects chosen for the FIX Product Design Awards are those that have the greatest market feasibility and potential to have an economic impact through job creation in the region. Since the program’s launch last fall, 17 clients have received awards, making them eligible for up to about 50 hours of work from the team. Selected clients work with engineering students to customize their prototype design, while the students gain valuable experience in the process.

Will O’Neill, a senior set to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering technology in December, said working with the different types of projects he’s seen from clients gives him an edge when applying for future design positions. He’s interested in prototype design as a potential career path, possibly in the military technology or medical fields.

O’Neill said it’s not just the technical skills he’s been honing through his work in the prototyping lab. “Another thing that I’m learning is being able to talk to a customer, and being able to get the information about what they want out of a product,” he said. “You have to be able to get a product idea across clearly so that everyone can understand the concept and what the individual really wants to create.”

Sloan said the other important facet of FIX is enhancing programs to support traditionally underserved populations. FIX is doing that by launching the Foster Community Entrepreneurship Partnerships to offer more opportunities for women, veteran and Spanish-speaking entrepreneurs.

FIX will support expanded programming for Arrowhead Center’s Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business conference, set for spring 2019. Plans for the conference include additional mentorship opportunities and workshops, along with speakers who will explore the conference’s themes of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship.

“Building on our programs that are created to highlight issues that women, veterans and others face is just part of our goal, though,” Sloan said. “We also want to work toward building an environment here in the Borderplex in which the access and opportunities for people who are overlooked in the world of entrepreneurship become more equal. That means making more people aware of the support that’s available for them and instilling a culture in our region that values having these voices in the conversation about economic development.”

Looking ahead, Sloan said FIX will also introduce periodic Innovation Challenges, which will provide a platform for regional companies of all sizes to crowdsource solutions to their critical business, scientific and technical problems by leveraging the power and resources of NMSU’s body of expertise. Companies interested in posing a problem for an upcoming Innovation Challenge can contact Sloan at or 575-646-7833 for more information.

Arrowhead Center director Kathryn Hansen said the support from the Foster family is essential for the work Arrowhead and its partners in the region are doing to build a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“This support is helping Arrowhead break down some of the barriers to economic growth in the Borderplex region and create on-ramps for underserved entrepreneurs,” Hansen said. “We see this program growing in new directions that support innovation and collaboratively applying our resources to address challenges that industry partners face.”

For more information about the Foster Innovation Exchange, or to apply for a FIX Product Design Award, visit the website.

Author:  Amanda Bradford – NMSU

NMSU’s Pecan Short Course to be Held October 15-18

The 2018 Western Pecan Production Short Course will be held October 15-18, and will be led by New Mexico State University pecan specialist Richard Heerema.

The first three days of the short course will include lectures that will cover as much of the basics of pecan production as possible from the basic biology of the pecan tree to the marketing and economics of pecans.

“We will have lectures covering just about everything pecan-related,” said Heerema, pecan expert in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

“We will discuss how to select a pecan orchard site, how to modify a site, how to select pecan varieties and all you need to learn up front. Then we will discuss how to plant a pecan orchard, how to take care of an immature pecan orchard to bring it up to establishment and how to manage a mature orchard. Then it will be followed by pruning, irrigation, nutrition and pest and weed management.”

On the last day of class on October 18, attendees will take a field trip to pecan farms in southwest New Mexico and southeast Arizona. The emphasis of the trip will be the different irrigation systems used.

“The field trip will be a little different this year. We’ve decided to make it a full day trip; we’re going to head to Deming then to the Cotton City area in New Mexico and finally to San Simon, Arizona,” Heerema said. “Our emphasis of the trip will be pressurized irrigation systems.”

Heerema said the new pressurized irrigation systems are becoming increasingly important across the state and he would like for the participants to see firsthand the advantages and disadvantages of these systems.

“One advantage to pressurized systems is that they have much higher application uniformity than flood irrigation, but their management could involve other things that aren’t involved in the irrigation system we are used to. There is also a steep learning curve associated with using any new irrigation system,” Heerema said.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the short course along with a binder of all the talking points from the lectures.

Those wishing to register can visit the website; space will be limited, so register as soon as possible.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU

NMSU ‘Global Connections’ Talk to Focus on Experience in Costa Rica

An undergraduate student at New Mexico State University will give the first “Global Connections” presentation of the fall semester about her experiences in Costa Rica.

The talk is scheduled for Wednesday, September 26 in Domenici Hall, Room 102 at 5:30 p.m.  The “Global Connections” series is free and open to the public.

Desiree Sanchez is a junior majoring in physics with a minor in studio art. She went to Costa Rica in an 11-person group in spring 2018 as part of the Aggies Go Global student organization at NMSU.

“My presentation is called “How You Can Travel the World Tomorrow,”she said. “It was my first time out of the country.”

Desiree Sanchez (right) works in a kitchen as part of the trip’s service-learning. (Photo courtesy of Desiree Sanchez.)

This is the seventh year the College of Arts and Sciences has offered its “Global Connections” series, which had featured faculty members’ trips around the world. This fall, the series is including students’ experiences as well.

The purpose is to provide an opportunity for members of the campus and surrounding community to learn about the kind of global first-hand experiences they might never otherwise encounter.

One aspect of the trip was to immerse the students in the Spanish language. The students took Spanish classes each morning before going out to do service work.

“We lived with host families and I stayed with an older woman who only spoke Spanish, so that really challenged me,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez’s efforts to communicate with her host in Spanish made her think she should try as hard to communicate with her own family in Spanish.

“We worked on a coffee farm and learned about sustainability,” Sanchez said. “We worked alongside Nicaraguan workers who worked on this farm carrying bags of compost.”

The students also went white-water rafting in the Río Pacuare.

Pictured here, the students survey the coffee farm, which they worked on alongside Nicaraguan migrant workers. (Photo courtesy of Desiree Sanchez.)

“I hope the audience at my presentation will learn that you don’t have to travel out of the country to have meaningful experiences,” she said.

Over the nine-day trip, Sanchez said, the structure was very similar to how a lot of students live at school: They woke up in the morning to go to Spanish class, then went to work on the coffee farm, then afterward hung out with friends and their host families, and occasionally did activities like the white-water rafting.

“And it was really an incredible trip, but it made me think, “Why can’t I have experiences like this back at home?” Sanchez said.

“And the answer, I think, is you have to live in the moment because the present is all we have. And with this presentation, I’m going to talk about ways people can live in the moment.”

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

NMSU Professor’s Novel Tells Heartfelt Stories of Maya Women, Communities

Christine Eber spent the last 35 years opening her mind to the suffering of people of Chiapas, Mexico, first as a volunteer, then as a graduate student and finally as an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University.

Now a retired professor emerita, she continues the work today.

After spending decades writing scholarly works about the Tsotsil-Maya people of Chiapas, Eber, wrote her first novel about their struggles and their faith titled ‘When A Woman Rises.’

“I believe that my novel is more likely to lead people to want to visit Chiapas than my academic books or articles ever did,” Eber said. “And I really do want people to go to Chiapas, to make friends there, perhaps to get involved in some kind of project or at least go back home inspired to do something to make the world a more egalitarian and just place.”

NMSU professor emeritus Christine Eber (right) shows a video she had taken to Lucia and her children.

The novel, published by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, will have a book launch from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, September 28 at Casa Camino Real Book Store in Las Cruces.

In the forward to Eber’s book, author Diane Rus describes Eber as practicing love in the Mayan sense of the word as described by a character in the book – listening deeply, not giving up on each other, helping each other, respecting each other and feeling each other’s pain.

“It was clear to me that there were things I couldn’t say in my ethnographic writings and the novel was an effort to help push myself to understand their lives better and help others understand the Maya people better,” Eber said. “The novel really liberated me to say a lot of things I wanted to say in my writing in an engaging way.”

In the novel, Magdalena from Chenalhó, Chiapas tells the story of her daughter’s best friend Lucia who has been missing for ten years. Magdalena recounts the girls’ dreams of becoming teachers.

They both join the Zapatista movement, supporting democracy, land reform and the rights of indigenous people. The women’s stories

NMSU professor emeritus Christine Eber works on Flor de Margarita Pérez Pérez life story with her.

reveal how culture, poverty and rigid gender roles impact their lives.

“My novel shows how Maya people live in different conditions from those of most readers but aren’t necessarily any less intelligent or capable of taking leadership roles or anything else,” Eber said. “They just haven’t had the opportunities.”

Eber is a founder of the nonprofit ‘Weaving for Justice,’ a volunteer group in Las Cruces helping three Maya women’s cooperatives. “We’re involved in trying to find fair trade markets in the U.S. and to help raise funds for scholarships for Maya youth to go on to high school, college and post graduate studies.”

For more information about “Weaving for Justice,” visit

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU Receives $3.9m Grant for NSF Scholarships in STEM Program

New Mexico State University has been awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to prepare students for careers in computing and provide scholarships for academically talented community college students in the computer science field who need financial help.

NMSU is the lead institution in partnership with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and four community colleges to fund NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.

Huiping Cao, NMSU associate professor of computer science is the principal investigator for the project and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli, Dongwan Shin, associate professor and department chair of computer science at New Mexico Tech, and Sara Hug, a research associate with the Alliance for Technology, are co-principal investigators.

“The goal of the grant is to help the students not just with financial support but develop professional skills, particularly in the area of cyber security,” Pontelli said. “This is one of the most competitive and fastest growing fields in the area of computer science.”

NMSU has partnered with Doña Ana Community College, the NMSU Alamogordo campus, and the NMSU Grants campus, while Tech has partnered with Eastern New Mexico University’s campus in Ruidoso.

“An important aspect of this grant is to help students transition from community college to a four-year program,” Pontelli said. “So a lot of the scholarships are reserved for community college students with the understanding that, after one year in community college, they will transfer to a four-year program at either the NMSU main campus or the Tech main campus.”

Pontelli said he hopes the grant will make the students who apply for the scholarships more competitive in the job market.

“There will be a rubric by which the applicants will be scored and the top students will be selected to receive scholarships,” Pontelli said.

Students who are either heading into a community college program or who are heading for a four-year program are welcome to apply.

The grant is for five years and success will be based on how many scholarship recipients have completed their computer-science degrees and are entering the workforce in a related field.

Pontelli said he expects to award around 22 scholarships a year for three cohorts of students.

“So it’s not just a one-time thing,” Pontelli said. “Once they are selected, they won’t have to worry about getting a job while they work on their degrees.”

Pontelli said he hopes the results of the five-year grant will give evidence that the program works, encouraging companies in the computer science industry to fund more scholarships for computer science students and that other industries will do the same for students in different fields.

“I see this as creating an infrastructure that will grow over time once it is proven,” Pontelli said. “The good thing is NMSU has been investing a lot of effort in the area of cyber security, we have a lot of initiatives in place. A degree program in cyber security is going through the approval process now, which means people see the value of this degree program.”

Pontelli sees the NSF award as a major step in positioning NMSU as a leader in the state in the area of cyber security training and research.

“We have a track record of success and we have good people, Pontelli said. “All these initiatives together demonstrate that the NSF believes in NMSU, that this is an institution where we can make these initiatives successful.”

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

NMSU Ranked Among Best Colleges According to U.S. News & World Report

New Mexico State University has been recognized as a top tier university for the sixth time in the last seven years according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2019 National Universities rankings.

“This recognition reflects NMSU’s continued status as one of the best universities in the country,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “Our focus on the top-level priorities of improving student success, elevating research and creativity and amplifying our outreach and economic development will help us improve our scores well into the future.”

This year, NMSU is tied for 221 with University of Texas-Arlington, California State University-Fullerton, Dallas Baptist University and Benedictine University (Illinois).

Additionally, NMSU ranks tied for 126 in top public schools, tied for 132 in undergraduate engineering programs and tied for 199 in undergraduate business programs.

The methodology for the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings was modified this year and are based on outcomes (35 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (10 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).

For a complete list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, along with the methodology, please visit

Author:  Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU Professor Shares Initial Results of Study on Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

Nearly a year to the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, devastating the U.S. commonwealth and its people, a New Mexico State University assistant professor shared some of the preliminary findings of her study on the mental health of aid workers who are still working to help residents.

Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, an assistant professor in the Counseling and Educational Psychology department at New Mexico State University’s College of Education, is a native of Puerto Rico. Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico,

Torres Fernandez began fundraising efforts to help Puerto Ricans in need of food, water, batteries and other goods. She also began a yearlong study in March focusing on the mental health of those who not only provided aid to storm victims, but who were also victims of Hurricane Maria.

“I started to collect data and it was hard to do, because there was not going to be a perfect time to do it. The emotions are still raw,” Torres Fernandez said. “The emotional wounds this horrible storm left are intense.”

Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. It is regarded as the worst Atlantic hurricane since 2004, and on August 28 Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study, according to the Associated Press.

Torres Fernandez made her third trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria in July, and said although she is seeing progress, it has been ‘painfully slow.’ So far, Torres Fernandez has completed her first round of interviews, talking to 15 people including first responders, healthcare workers, community leaders and private citizens who have assisted in relief efforts. Out of the 15, 10 have been women. The first group ranged in age from 18 to 71.

Torres Fernandez is planning to conduct a second round of interviews, mainly with mental health professionals.

“I’m asking them what it was like to have been impacted by the storm and having to provide emotional support and psychological help to others. How did they cope,” Torres Fernandez said.

One surprising thing she learned was that in helping others, aid workers healed themselves. By providing support and assistance to those who are still experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and post-traumautic stress disorder, it has helped them cope and find some relief.

“On a personal level, that’s how I’ve been healing,” said Torres Fernandez. She was not in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria but her family, who still live on the island, experienced the storm and its after-effects. Torres Fernandez said residents are still suffering from anxiety whenever it rains, and anxiety has been heightened during this year’s hurricane season.

New Mexico State University assistant professor Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, right, delivered donations to an assisted living facility in Puerto Rico in July. (NMSU photo courtesy of Ivelisse Torres Fernandez)

Torres Fernandez said that by talking to mental health professionals next, she hopes to take a closer look at whether they are experiencing compassion fatigue and whether they have adopted any self care strategies to help them cope. She also wants to explore other consequences of the hurricane such as health issues that occurred after residents were forced to rely on canned food for survival, and the limited access to quality health care.

In talking to her first group of interviewees, Torres Fernandez found that although aid workers were emotionally impacted by the experience, adopting a positive outlook has helped them through tough, emotional times.

One woman told me, “We are broken, but we are not defeated. We will rise again,” Torres Fernandez said, her eyes welling with tears. “This speaks to the resilience of the people of Puerto Rico. Keeping a positive outlook on life makes a difference.”

Participants also raised concerns about the federal aid response versus the local response. Although participants positively rated the response at the municipal level, the majority of participants believe both the federal and local government didn’t do a good job, Torres Fernandez said.

The concerns about the federal and local response has led residents to distrust federal and local agencies, and to adopt more significant hurricane preparation measures such as storing enough food and water to last two months, and to buy significant amounts of batteries and power generators.

Before starting her research, Torres Fernandez spearheaded donation efforts to collect clothing, food, batteries, school supplies and money to benefit Puerto Rico.

To date, those donations have helped students in three schools and the residents of an assisted living facility, along with several residents in rural areas.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez- NMSU

Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, eats lunch with a group of students in Puerto Rico after delivering donations of school supplies. Torres Fernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, is researching the mental health of aid workers who helped Puerto Rican residents during Hurricane Maria in September 2017. (NMSU photo courtesy of Ivelisse Torres Fernandez)

NMSU Alumnus Has Art Displayed in NYC, NMSU Students Help Promote Work

New Mexico State University alumnus and accomplished painter George Mendoza donated 26 pieces to a Manhattan hospital for permanent display.

The Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital will unveil the display, called ’26 Visions,’ on September 17.

The hospital has significance for Mendoza, as it was where he was diagnosed with macular degeneration as a teenager. Mendoza, originally from New York City and who is legally blind, says what vision he has is like “looking through a kaleidoscope.” He uses this interpretation of the world “to create fantastical and colorful images.”

On September 19, Mendoza, also the author of several books, will have a book signing at Blue Stockings Bookstore in New York.

Mendoza also has been working with three students in NMSU’s small business consulting class who are using his visit to get experience pitching for New York media. Tiffany Tudor, Kevin Ramirez and Harrison Groom are reaching out to television stations to encourage news outlets to interview Mendoza while he is in New York.

His first book, ‘Colors of the Wind,’ is a biographical picture book. Mendoza is also a champion runner and competed in the 1980 and ’84 Olympics for the Disabled.

Mendoza lives in Las Cruces because he loves the light here. He is also the author of the ‘Wizards Fight Funny’ trilogy. His books can be found on Amazon. He has another display of paintings, also called “Colors of the Wind,” that is a traveling exhibit for the National Smithsonian Affiliates.

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

NMSU Students Among Small Group to Spend Semester at Google

As classes get underway at New Mexico State University , five NMSU computer science students ranging from sophomores to seniors are spending the fall semester at Google in San Francisco.

It’s the second year of a pilot program initiated by the tech giant. This year, they selected students from three Hispanic Serving Institutions to take classes at Google for a semester and benefit from the Google culture.

Last year, the company invited students from Howard University, among the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to learn at the Google campus.

“It’s like you’re going to school in the workplace, said Enrico Pontelli, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who negotiated NMSU’s participation in the project. “It’s the best of both worlds merged together. It’s a very interesting design. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. This is a first.”

It’s like a regular semester, Pontelli explained. The students will take courses as they would otherwise but those courses will be attached to a project they are given by Google. They also will have Google mentors and access to professional skills training and interview sessions with other company’s representatives.

Marco Salazar, a sophomore computer science major who is interested in pursuing a career in video game development or artificial intelligence, is looking forward to the experience.

“I expect a rigorous training in the classes that I have signed up for, which is to be expected from an industry leader like Google,” Salazar said. “I understand that many of the projects we will be working on will be team-based the way it normally is in industry. We will have an expert professor teaching us, and a Google employee mentoring us for each of our classes. I expect this to be an invaluable experience that will greatly help me in the future.”

Kay Sweebe, a double major in computer science and mathematics, plans to spend time networking as the group tackles Google projects as part of the program.

“I’m specifically interested the problems we face currently with big data in our society,” Sweebe said. “A couple classes I will be taking at Google are Algorithms and Machine Learning. Both of these classes have implementations within big data to help solve some of the problems we currently face with large data sets.”

Another double major in computer science and mathematics, Vensan Carbardo, a sophomore at NMSU, has lived in New Mexico most of her life and hopes a semester at Google will expand her horizons.

“I hope that, by participating in this program, I can start getting more accustomed to being outside of my comfort zone. I don’t believe that sticking to safe and familiar routines is beneficial for anyone; especially computer scientists, and I expect that this program will help me become more comfortable with approaching problems in new and unfamiliar ways.”

Pontelli says the company is looking to diversify its workforce and find the best employees by reaching out to minority serving institutions. Three of the five NMSU students attending the Google pilot this semester are women. NMSU’s Young Women in Computing program, which has engaged thousands of middle and high school girls in learning computer science over that last 10 years, has created a pipeline of female computer science majors for NMSU.

Pontelli is impressed by the way Google has incorporated the learning experience into their company culture.

“First of all they’re going to be immersed in a learning environment that is much richer because they are going to be with students from different universities with faculty from different universities to teach within Google,” said Pontelli.

NMSU computer science students join students from UT El Paso and California State University, Dominguez Hills at the Google campus in San Francisco to take classes for the fall semester as part of a pilot project. Photo courtesy NMSU/Google

“And the students’ connection with Google is going to be developed. It’s going to be a great learning experience. The skills they’re going to get, not just the technical skills, but also the professional skills, the job interviews, the teamwork, understanding the culture. You can get some of that with an internship, but this is better than an internship.”

Jacob Espinoza, a senior computer science major, likes the idea of getting access to learning at Google without the pressure of a regular internship. “Artificial intelligence interests me the most and I think my experience at Google will give me a greater insight as to the developments in the field.

“Google has been one of the leaders in AI over the past few years as evidenced by projects such as their self-driving car program and the Google Assistant. Being at Google, I am sure I will see both the advances and the challenges that face the AI field today.”

Arianna Martinez, a junior computer science major who wants to work at Google or Amazon as a software engineer, is grateful she was among the handful of students selected for the Google pilot. “I expect to gain hands-on experience and knowledge from Google engineers that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I hope to make friends and learn so many new things while I’m there.”

As well as meeting new friends, the students will be connecting with NMSU alumni who already have jobs at Google. Natasha Nesiba, is part of that Google welcoming committee for the NMSU group. She received a scholarship from Google as an undergraduate but turned into a scholarship for another student and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NMSU.

“We want this to continue and grow. It’s important that the students must have a great experience,” Pontelli said. “But we need to make sure we pay them and we need to figure out how to finance sending the students there and where they will live.”

When the students return after the semester at Google, they will share what they’ve learned with their peers at NMSU next semester. Pontelli is hopeful the program will continue to expand each year and become sustainable in the future.

“The people from Google are good to work with, very collegial, very open,” Pontelli said. “I do trust them, they’re sincere in what they’re trying to do. I think they really want to make a difference.”

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU Students, Faculty, Staff Visit India for Inspiring Women Economic Forum

Eight New Mexico State University students and four NMSU faculty and staff members traveled to New Delhi, India, for the Women Economic Forum.

The WEF is a week-long global conference, “to foster empowering conversations, connections and collaborations among women entrepreneurs and leaders from all spheres of life,” according to its website.

NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando Flores spoke at the conference and said it was a “transformational experience.”

“There is a lot to learn from the people of India. They are extremely friendly, and they really value American education,” he said.

All of the NMSU delegates presented at the conference, and many gave up to three different presentations on diverse topics related to their areas of expertise. Flores gave three presentations at the WEF and discussed with leaders about possible student exchanges and linkages with India in the future.

“The goal is that all ACES undergraduates, by the time they graduate, have had an international experience beyond the immediate U.S.-Mexico border proximity,” Flores said.

About 2,000 women from more than 120 countries were at the WEF, making it an inspiring experience for NMSU students.

For NMSU graduate student Mary Catey, this experience fueled a new passion. Through hearing people’s stories about how they have made a positive impact in their communities by meeting others” needs, Catey realized the importance of serving others.

A man and his son outside a gift shop in Rajasthan, India, made a great impact on graduate student Anita Rodriguez because of the joy and love they showed her. (Courtesy photo by Anita Rodriguez) JUL18

“It’s easy to sit there and be inspired, but I’m holding myself accountable. I’m going to do something for my community,” she said.

Catey plans on serving the people of Las Cruces. She said it will be good for the community, but also for herself.

“So many people talked about their experiences helping and how it has changed them as a person, and I want to feel that, too,” she said.

NMSU graduate student Anita Rodriguez said this experience was life-changing because of the wonderful people she met.

“It was very empowering to hear many stories from the heart about obstacles in women’s lives and how they overcame them,” she said.

The students and staff had three pre-conference days of cultural awareness experiences and immersion.

The group went to visit and learn about historical and cultural monuments and spaces in Agra and New Delhi.

Rodriguez’s favorite moment of the trip was when the group was at a rest area on their way to see the Taj Mahal. There was a father and son outside a gift shop on the side of the interstate. The father was playing an instrument while the son danced. They were dressed in bright colored outfits and looked very happy. Rodriguez reached out to give the boy a tip, but instead of grabbing the money, the boy clasped her wrist and led her to dance along with him.

“When the little boy grasped my wrist, it was as if his joy and love was passed on to me and I felt like it broke down walls that I had built up around my heart. That brief encounter changed me for the better, from that moment on,” Rodriguez said. “The tourist attractions were great, but there’s nothing like the people of India and the amazing women we met at the conference.”

This was NMSU’s first year participating in the conference. The trip was led by Flores, Manoj Shukla, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Claudia Trueblood, operations officer for the College of ACES, and Angelina Palumbo, director of NMSU Education Abroad and Aggies Go Global.

Trueblood and Palumbo started working with the students in November 2017 and Trueblood will continue to work with them through the fall semester. As a group, they will be making several community presentations about the students’ experiences, what they learned and the importance of international opportunities to encourage other students to travel abroad and open their horizons.

“The College of ACES wants to provide participating students the opportunity to broaden their horizons, to share what they know and are passionate about, learn from others and strengthen their leadership skills,” Palumbo said.

The College of ACES, through its Aggies Go Global program, is beginning to plan the participation of another group of students in the 2019 WEF conference.

Six New Mexico State University students and four NMSU faculty and staff members travelled to New Delhi, India for the Women Economic Forum in April. (Courtesy photo) JUL18

Author: Ximena Tapia – NMSU

NMSU’s Ride for the 4-H Clover Motorcycle Tour Returns for Sixth Year

Ride for the 4-H Clover, an annual, weekend motorcycle excursion hosted by New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Cooperative Extension Service to benefit 4-H youth programs, will return Aug. 24-26 for the sixth year.

Motorcycle riders and non-riders are invited to participate in this year’s ride, which will venture through eight towns and five counties -more than 400 miles altogether – in northeastern New Mexico.

The route covers an area of the state that features both forests and portions of the Great Plains region, and is known as a destination of lakes, rivers, state parks and national monuments, and storied stops along Historic Route 66.

At each planned stop, participants will learn about programs in NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service – the university’s non-formal, educational outreach component that has a presence in all 33 counties in New Mexico – and meet 4-H youth members who will discuss their current projects.

The vision of former NMSU Regent Mike Cheney, Ride for the 4-H Clover started in 2013 as a campaign to build awareness for NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service and help support its 4-H programs, said Associate Dean Jon Boren, the director of NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of New Mexicans through research-based information,” Boren said. “One of our flagship programs for the Cooperative Extension Service is the 4-H program.”

More than 40,000 New Mexico youth – one out of nine children in the state – are involved in 4-H programs offered by NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service and gain knowledge and skills in the areas of agriculture, science, citizenship and healthy living, Boren said.

“The focus of this ride is to really enhance awareness of the Cooperative Extension Service and, more importantly, the 4-H programs,” he said, adding, “Any funds that are generated go directly back into the 4-H programs.”

Each year, the ride route covers a different region in New Mexico, showcasing Extension offices and 4-H programs in that area. This year, the route starts in Las Vegas and ends in Mora. Along the way, participants will make stops in Tucumcari, Clayton, Raton and Angel Fire.

A day before the ride begins, an evening reception for participants will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Best Western Plus Montezuma Inn & Suites, 2020 N. Grand Ave., in Las Vegas.

The following day, Aug. 25, an opening ceremony will take place at 7 a.m., also at the Best Western Plus Montezuma Inn & Suites, before participants depart for Tucumcari at 8 a.m. In Tucumcari, the group will visit the Quay County Fairgrounds, 2000 Camino Del Coronado Road, for about an hour before heading north to Clayton at 11:30 a.m. The group plans to refuel in Logan.

It is anticipated that the group will arrive in Clayton around 1:30 p.m. to visit the NMSU ACES Clayton Livestock Research Center, 15 NMSU Lane, where lunch will be provided.

At 2:30 p.m., the group will depart for Raton, the last stop of the day, and refuel in Des Moines. The group will stay overnight in Raton at the Best Western Plus, 473 Clayton Road. That evening, the group will reconvene from 6:30-8 p.m. for dinner at the Raton Convention Center, 901 S. Third St.

The next morning, Aug. 26, the group will depart for Angel Fire at 8:30 a.m. At 10 a.m., the group will stop at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, 43 Country Club Road, for a 45-minute break, and then depart for Mora at 10:45 a.m. In Mora, the ride will wrap up with lunch and an official conclusion at the NMSU ACES John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center, 547 N.M. 518.

Registration for the ride is now underway. The $75 fee includes the reception in Las Vegas, lunches in Clayton and Mora, and dinner in Raton, as well as a commemorative pin and shirt. Lodging is not included, but group hotel discounts are available.

All proceeds benefit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences’ Cooperative Extension Service 4-H youth programs.

For additional information or to register for the ride, visit the webpage or call Monica Lury at 505-983-4615.

Author: Carlos Andres Lopez – NMSU

NMSU College of Education Merges Three Departments into Single School

New Mexico State University’s College of Education has recently merged the departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Administration, and Special Education into a single School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership.

NMSU officials say this consolidation will better prepare master educators, administrators and leaders for public, private and governmental institutions.

In 2016, the College of Education received a $252,000 planning grant from the Kellogg Foundation to begin the process of transforming the college.

According to a news release from NMSU, the mission of the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership, or TPAL, is to “support and advocate for equitable education for all, especially historically marginalized and multicultural/multilingual communities and students with exceptionalities. This is accomplished through teaching, scholarship, public service, the preparation of teachers and leaders, and collaborations across the disciplines and with constituents.”

Betsy Cahill, who is interim associate dean of academic affairs and co-director of TPAL along with associate professor and Stan Fulton Endowed Chair in Education Azadeh Osanloo, said there are plans to begin a search for a school director sometime next year. For more information on TPAL, visit their website.

“We received the Kellogg Foundation grant and hosted guest speakers and discussed how we should best restructure the college, and that evolved into one result: one large department made up of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Administration, and Special Education,” said Cahill. “It absolutely made sense because we should all be in this together. It’s a natural fit.”

The Kellogg Foundation, founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, the Kellogg Foundation works with communities to create better conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

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