New Mexico State University’s STEM Outreach Center recently received $2.7 million from the New Mexico Public Education Department to fund out-of-school-time STEM programs in the Las Cruces and Gadsden school districts for one year.
The grant was awarded by the New Mexico Public Education Department through the national 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program to implement programs in schools in the Gadsden Independent School District and Las Cruces Public Schools.
The funding will allow the STEM Outreach Center, which is housed in the NMSU College of Education, to provide its programming to qualifying elementary and middle schools in each district in the 2020-21 academic year. Another $250,000 was awarded for summer STEM programs for K-8th grade students.
Those programs will be offered from June through August 2021.
NMSU College of Education interim Dean Susan Brown said the funding will help provide STEM programs to thousands of students.
“I congratulate (STEM Outreach Center Director) Wanda Bulger-Tamez and (center co-director) Sara Morales for leading the team,” Brown said. “Because of their wonderful record providing the best program in the state, they will continue to provide professional development for our out-of-school-time teachers and provide over 6,500 K-8th grade students exciting, innovative, interactive STEM out-of-school-time programs for the academic year 2020-21.”
The STEM Outreach Center-led community learning centers will offer programs that support local schools in preparing students with age-appropriate knowledge, attitudes and behaviors to succeed at college, in a career and in life. Students will participate in the center’s activities outside of regular school hours.
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.
New Mexico State University will continue its temporary suspension of student-athlete workouts as additional COVID-19 test results are gathered.
Last week, the university suspended workouts at the recommendation of the University Athletics team doctor after six student-athletes and a sports performance staff member tested positive for the virus.
Additional tests have resulted in 135 negative cases, 20 positive cases and seven others are still awaiting their results. The cases affect multiple sports.
Workouts and other team activities will resume once medical personnel give approval.
New Mexico State University and the NMSU Foundation are investigating a cyberattack and possible data loss involving information stored on NMSU Foundation computers.
After noticing unusual network activity late last week, NMSU and NMSU Foundation security personnel jointly began an investigation and removed all affected devices from the network as a precaution. There is no evidence of any data theft at this time, but the investigation is ongoing.
“From the start, we have moved quickly to contain possible data loss and are conducting a thorough investigation with the assistance of law enforcement officials and security experts,” said Derek Dictson, president of the NMSU Foundation and NMSU’s vice president for university advancement. “Although we have no evidence of any misuse of information, we are providing notice to our broader university community out of an abundance of caution.”
The Foundation is in the process of hiring an external cybersecurity forensics company to determine exactly what occurred and confirm the security of the network. NMSU security personnel do not see evidence of the attack outside of the NMSU Foundation’s network, which is separate from the NMSU network. Both entities will continue to monitor the situation closely.
As this investigation continues, the university and NMSU Foundation will provide additional information.
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 vitalant.org (search for sponsor code “UTEP” or “TexasTech”) or by calling 877-258-4825.
Blood donors are required to wear face coverings during the drive.
For the past 13 years, New Mexico State University’s Model United Nations team has brought home top awards from the national conference held in New York City each spring. This year, three weeks before the team was headed to New York, the coronavirus pandemic hit and the conference was cancelled.
Mariana Marañón-Laguna, a senior majoring in government and psychology with a minor in history, was the president of NMSU’s Model U.N. team in 2019-2020. She wanted to ensure the team’s efforts and preparations were put to good use.
“Even though the team was disheartened over being unable to compete in New York, we did not want all of our research and knowledge about the U.N. to be in vain,” Marañón-Laguna said. “So, Neil Harvey, our team’s faculty advisor, encouraged us to give continuity to our work through the creation of a blog.”
The blog was used in April and May as a way to relay information about the United Nations’ response to the coronavirus pandemic in various arenas such as public health, sustainable development and human rights.
“We were disappointed that the National Model U.N. Conference in New York was cancelled,” said Neil Harvey, NMSU’s government department head and professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I was proud of how the students turned around and produced this blog about the very thing that stopped them going to New York to represent our university.”
The team had researched Sri Lanka as the country they would represent at the Model U.N. conference, but since they had spent so much time understanding how the U.N. works and what it does, they wanted to share it.
“Our blog contains updates on global carbon emissions, the launching of a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, how the U.S. decision to withdraw funding from the World Health Organization might affect the outcome of the pandemic and the ways in which the virus and automation are related.”
Each Tuesday and Thursday, a member would choose his or her topic and write an article that was shared with the rest of the team for feedback before the final version was posted.
Through eight posts between April and May the team members watched actions involving the United Nations and shared their analyses to help the community better understand the broader impact COVID-19 has on global issues.
“What we wanted our blog to do is to inform our readers of how the U.N. is acting in relation to the pandemic,” Marañón-Laguna said. “Not only in the global public health realm, but also in areas such as human rights, armed conflict and sustainable development.
As the world continues to fight COVID-19, the idea of global cooperation has been at the forefront of many leaders’ minds.
“It is now common to hear that the crisis opens up possibilities for a new world system to emerge, one that aspires to be more equal, inclusive, peaceful and cooperative,” Harvey said.
Some experts have suggested that this pandemic will reverse globalization, as shown by many countries that have enacted travel bans since mid-March. However, NMSU’s Model UN team would argue that this is a time when the need for global cooperation is necessary.
“Only through a joint global effort, will we mitigate the consequences of COVID-19, accelerate the development of a vaccine, and move forward into a post-COVID-19 world,” Marañón-Laguna said.
Some of the team members will be able to participate in the coming academic year and compete next spring. These students are called “veterans” since they have already gained some experience of how Model U.N. works and can help train the new team members.
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.
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.
New Mexico State University and ExxonMobil have signed an agreement that will create a collaboration to coordinate research involving produced water projects and provide educational opportunities for students.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for NMSU to collaborate with ExxonMobil to leverage the expertise of both academia and industry to try and find solutions to our nation’s water challenges,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “This agreement illustrates NMSU’s strength in water and environmental engineering research.”
Pei Xu, the PESCO Endowed Professor and Ward Family Endowed Interdisciplinary Chair in Civil Engineering, is leading NMSU’s effort. The collaboration involves two interdisciplinary projects. Researchers from the College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences and College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences are working together to develop cutting-edge technologies for produced water management.
“Our collaboration with New Mexico State University builds on ExxonMobil’s commitment to meet energy demand while reducing environmental impacts through innovative research programs with academic institutions,” said Monte Dobson, technology development manager for ExxonMobil. “The project leverages New Mexico State’s leading expertise in produced water research with ExxonMobil’s resources and strong technological capabilities to find beneficial ways to re-use produced water.”
NMSU graduate students and post doc researchers will be involved in the collaboration.
“This is a very valuable experience for the students,” Xu said. “Students learn about fundamental theories, but when we work with ExxonMobil the students are exposed to the industry. They ask very practical questions and learn real-world, hands-on experience by communicating with industry partners. It also allows us to get industry input for the advanced research we do.”
Faculty members involved in the current projects include Huiyao Wang, civil engineering associate professor, Huiping Cao, computer science associate professor, Kenneth Carroll, plant and environmental sciences associate professor, and Yanyan Zhang, civil engineering assistant professor.
The Domenici Public Policy Conference held at New Mexico State University set for September 2020 will not be held this year.
Due to COVID-19 issues surrounding the uncertainly of large group gatherings and conference speakers’ travel concerns, conference organizers are looking to 2021 for the next event.
“The COVID-19 virus has caused us to re-evaluate our overall operations including the important Domenici Public Policy Conference,” NMSU Provost Carol Parker said.
“Regrettably, we will need to cancel this year’s event. But, that doesn’t mean we have lost any of the enthusiasm for the mission of the conference. Our advisory committee has been looking at all of our future options.”
The two-day regional conference attracts more than 1,000 attendees and focuses on significant issues facing the state, nation and world.
The Domenici Institute for Public Policy at NMSU is named after Pete V. Domenici, New Mexico’s longest-serving United States senator who died in 2017.
The institute at NMSU was created to continue Domenici’s legacy of service to both the state and the country.
For more information on the Domenici Institute, click here.
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 nmsu.joinhandshake.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Mexico State University has partnered with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation to host a free virtual course series to inform farmers, educators and the general public about pollinator and beneficial insect conservation in gardens and farms in northern New Mexico.
“The six-part weekly series, “Supporting Pollinators and Beneficial Insects in Backyards and on Farms,” will consist of one to one-and-a-half hour live virtual presentations via Zoom,” said Amanda Skidmore, NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences integrated pest management small farm specialist.
The webinars will be at 3 p.m. Tuesdays, June 23 through July 28. Participants are welcome to attend any and all of the six sessions.
Registration is required for attendance of each live presentation. Live captioning will be provided.
All sessions will be uploaded to the NMSU ACES YouTube channel at a later date with no viewing restrictions.
“The series will cover a range of topics on pollinators and beneficial insects in northern New Mexico,” Skidmore said. “From getting to know the bees and other helpful bugs in backyards and farms, to designing and planting healthy habitat to support those insects and protecting pollinators from pesticides.”
The topics and dates of each session, with links to individual registration pages, are as follows:
• June 23: “Pollinators of Northern New Mexico: How to Identify and Conserve the Bees in Your Backyard”
• June 30: “Helpful Bugs of Northern New Mexico: How to Identify and Conserve Beneficial Insects for Pest Control”
• July 7: “Conserving Bees in Your Backyard: How to Create Habitat for New Mexico Pollinators in Small Spaces”
• July 14: “Attracting and Supporting Crop Pollinators on New Mexico Farms”
• July 21: “Integrating Pollinators and Pest Management in New Mexico Gardens and Farms”
• July 28: “Ask Me Anything: New Mexico Pollinator and Beneficial Insect Expert Roundtable”
College graduation is an exciting but bittersweet time. One stage of the student’s life is drawing to a close, and a new stage is beginning. The next step is on the minds of many graduates who are just beginning the job search with a freshly minted degree in hand.
For four New Mexico State University Army ROTC cadets who earned their degrees this spring, the beginning of their career is already charted, and they are excited about the future.
Army ROTC cadets Dominic LaVolpa, Luis Pena, Justice Cordero and Brisa Lopez in the New Mexico State University Bataan Battalion recently received their second lieutenant bars during the traditional commissioning ceremony where they took an oath to their country, sealing their admittance into the officer corps of the U.S. Army.
COVID-19 related state health orders limiting gatherings to no more than five people did not stop the NMSU battalion from conducting the ceremony on May 16, though with a different look. Modern technology allowed the event to be held with family and friends participating through Zoom from around the country.
LaVolpa and Pena took the Oath of Commissioned Officers at NMSU’s campus outside of Young Hall, while, later in the day, Cordero and Lopez were sworn in at a private home in El Paso.
The ceremony included encouraging comments regarding the new officers by Lt. Col. George W. Childs III, NMSU professor of military science, and Staff Sgt. Adan Reyes, Army Reserve 900th quartermaster company in El Paso.
Each will use their degree specialty during their service in the military. They all credit the challenge of the ROTC program with preparing them for the adventure of life.
LaVolpa served as the battalion commander while earning a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree. His emphasis of study in exercise science will be called upon as he helps implement a new physical fitness practice the Army is developing.
“There are a lot more moving parts with this new test than there is currently,” he said. “It’s focused a lot on the research and background of my degree, which sets me up with the knowledge of how to prepare others for the new test.”
LaVolpa, a Roswell native, will be stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia with the armored division.
His brother, Daniel, also entered military service through Army ROTC. A visit to his brother’s base in Alaska convinced LaVolpa that Army life was for him.
“I missed the comradery I had in high school sports,” he said. “I found that environment in ROTC and the Army. I decided this is the kind of people I want to be around.”
Coming from a family of Marines, Cordero followed her own path and found the Army ROTC.
With a Bachelor of Public Health degree, the Santa Teresa, New Mexico, native will serve in the Army Reserve as a medical reserve officer stationed in Seagoville, Texas.
“I don’t know exactly what I will be doing, but I know a lot of what I learned in public health school applies to being a medical service officer,” she said. “Eventually I want to go back to nursing school and transition to being an Army nurse.”
Through ROTC, she said she discovered not just friends, but an extended family.
“You are there for each other every day, working together,” she said. “In the future, if our paths cross, they will be there to give you a helping hand when you need it.”
Lopez already knows where she will be stationed after Signal Corps training at Fort Gordon in Georgia: The Gilmer, Texas, native is headed to Germany.
While enlisted in the Army Reserves, she realized she wanted to go to college and become an officer. She has accomplished this by obtaining a Bachelor of Information and Communication Technology degree.
“I’m the first in my family to be in the military,” she said. “I’ve always known I wanted to be in the Army. While ROTC is a challenging commitment, it is so worth the reward of the things you learn, the values you live.”
History, especially military history, fascinates Pena. While growing up in Deming, a military career was a goal for him – especially being an officer.
Pena extended the love of history into a Bachelor of Arts degree while earning the rank of battalion executive officer.
“I take a lot of inspiration from the movie ‘Band of Brothers,’ and, especially, how everyone trusted Lt. Winters,” he said. “Being an officer is having the trust of the men to where they will follow you into any situation.”
Pena has been assigned to the infantry branch and is headed to Fort Benning in Georgia.
“You are either in the mechanized or airborne infantry,” he said. “I am hoping to go airborne, but that’s up to the Army to decide.”
New Mexico State University system leaders have created a COVID-19 Rapid Response Team tasked with leading the university through the phased return of faculty, staff and students this fall.
Chancellor Dan Arvizu and President John Floros also announced that NMSU’s vice chancellor and strategic chief financial officer, Ruth A. Johnston, will lead the team as chief COVID-19 officer for the NMSU system.
Arvizu said Johnston will collaborate with campus units to prepare for the return of roughly 25,000 students to NMSU’s campuses in August.
Floros noted that the complexity of the NMSU system, with campuses and offices all over New Mexico, necessitates using a broad team with diverse expertise.
“Dr. Johnston is already involving people at all levels across our university system to make sure we see problems and solutions from all angles,” Floros said. “We’re leveraging the wealth of expertise throughout our system, including health care providers, epidemiologists, virologists, facilities experts, and managers.”
The rapid response team is currently assessing plans for the phased return to on-campus operations and instruction. In addition, working groups are targeting specific focus areas. They will address modifications needed for classrooms, research, human resource practices, safety protocols and business operations, and act quickly to address them.
“Safety and health are absolutely paramount in everything that we do, so to reduce the spread of this virus, we have to adapt our physical, our technological and our business processes,” Johnston said. “Our entire infrastructure of how we support our core missions has to be looked at and altered, so we’ve got to be nimble and responsive.”
Johnston acknowledged that for every university system across the nation, NMSU included, the timeline to prepare for the fall semester is short and the urgency is high.
“We will stay true to our strategic plan and our goals of education, research and creative activity, and outreach and service – all aimed at student success and social mobility,” she said. “We’ll also look all over the United States to see the kinds of things that others are doing, and adapt them or create our own ways of being bold and shaping our future.”
Johnston said navigating that transition successfully will require everyone from students to campus leaders to be ready to collaborate and adapt to a changing landscape.
“We’re all in this together because we’re all Aggies, and we want the best for our faculty, our staff and our students as we return to campus in August,” she said.