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Tag Archives: NMSU

NMSU, Bosque Brewing Co. launch Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale

New Mexico State Aggies will be able to celebrate the upcoming fall athletic season with a beverage all their own.

NMSU and New Mexico-based Bosque Brewing Co. will officially debut Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, which promises to appeal to both beer connoisseurs and craft beer novices.

The ale will be introduced during an event beginning at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Bosque Brewing Co.’s Las Cruces taproom at 901 E. University Ave.

“As alumni and most of our ownership having grown up or lived in Las Cruces, NMSU has a special place in our hearts,” said Gabe Jensen, managing director of Bosque Brewing Co. “When the call came in for us to consider brewing an NMSU licensed beer, we geeked out. Being able to support our alma mater by having this beer available at Aggie games and around town was a no-brainer for Bosque.”

NMSU officials add, “Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale, or 88 for short, is named after the Aggie mascot and the year NMSU was founded. While many ales are developed as a complement to food, 88 ale will also complement whichever Aggie sports team you’re rooting for.”

“88 captures everything we love about balance,” Jensen said. “With a brilliant pale straw-color, this blonde ale has a light malt sweetness and just enough late addition hops to add flavor and aromatic nuance. Whether you’re new to craft beer or are a seasoned connoisseur, a couple of 88s is the perfect complement to whatever Aggie game you find yourself watching.”

Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale will be available on tap at the brewery’s Las Cruces taproom, and at the first Aggie home game on Sept. 16 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Cans of the ale will be available statewide early next year.

Not only is Pistol Pete’s 1888 Ale a must for any Aggie fan, it will help promote the university throughout the state. Proceeds from each purchase also helps NMSU athletic programs become financially independent.

“We’ve vetted this and the company,”  NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers said. “Of the five owners, three are Aggies, so that’s about the best credentials you can have. If marketed appropriately, this extends our brand across the state. It also shows that New Mexico State University is willing to team up with local companies.”

The ale’s brilliant silver and crimson cans were designed at NMSU and feature the lyrics of the Aggie fight song. Boxes containing the ale were also designed at NMSU and are adorned with the Aggie and Bosque Brewing logos in crimson and white, along with the ale’s 88 nickname and Pistol Pete icon.

“It’s not just an innovative product, there’s also revenue attached, which will benefit the athletic program,” NMSU Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. “It’s also a marketing opportunity for the university. Bosque’s products are in more than 1,000 stores across New Mexico.”

NMSU is only the fifth university in the country to launch an officially-licensed beer.

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU Team to Live-Stream Eclipse as Part of NASA National Eclipse Ballooning Project

A team of students and faculty from the New Mexico Space Grant Consortium at New Mexico State University will launch a high-altitude balloon on Monday, August 21 as part of a nationwide, NASA-sponsored project to live-stream aerial video footage of the “Great American Eclipse.”

The team will launch the roughly 8-foot-tall, helium-filled balloon, which will carry a video camera and other equipment to an altitude of up to 100,000 feet, at approximately 11 a.m. at the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Nebraska. Live footage from the camera will be available for public viewing on a NASA sponsored website at

As part of the NASA-sponsored Eclipse Ballooning Project, 55 teams from across the country will live-stream footage of the total solar eclipse, in which the moon will entirely block the sun for approximately two minutes on a path progressing from the Pacific coast in Oregon (1:17 p.m. PCT) to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina (2:47 p.m. EST).

According to NMSGC research scientist, Paulo Oemig, the project is unprecedented by broadcasting from high-altitude live video of the total solar eclipse.

“Live-broadcasting while tracking the eclipse across the continental United States has never been done,” Oemig said. “The nature of the project also offers an invaluable opportunity for the students in the team to translate their skills and knowledge into a real world application.”

Sten Hasselquist, an astronomy doctoral student and member of the team stated, “This is an outreach event of epic proportion. I am learning many practical real world skills that I can apply to future jobs. My participation in this project supported by New Mexico Space Grant will make me a more attractive job applicant and I will be able to continue my career as an astronomer.”

Norann Calhoun, a chemical engineering major and member of the team said, “I hope that the data received from these experiments will allow for further advancements in the space industry. This project has helped me expand my resume and have furthered my knowledge of the industry. I look forward to applying to jobs in the space industry when I graduate so that I can continue on the wonderful path that the New Mexico Space Grant has opened to me.”

In addition to a video camera, the team’s balloon will carry a GPS tracking system, a camera to capture still images of the eclipse, and a secondary payload consisting of a heat exchanger with wavy channels designed to increase the efficiency of propellants. Once the eclipse has passed, the balloon will pop and the payloads will parachute to Earth.

The NMSU team will also be participating in the “Plug-and-Fly” microbiology balloon opportunity. This payload will help understand Space Biosciences researchers at the NASA Ames Research Center how microbes behave near space conditions. This research in the stratosphere will help NASA understand the nature of bacteria in the context of microbial life on Mars or other extreme environments.

The project is sponsored by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and NASA’s Space Grant program, a national network that includes more than 900 affiliates from universities, colleges, industry, museums, science centers, and state and local agencies belonging to one of 52 consortia in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

The following NMSU students and faculty and staff are involved in the eclipse and heat exchange projects: Norann Calhoun, chemical engineering; Sten Hasselquist, astronomy; Paulo Oemig, senior research scientist; and Krishna Kota, assistant professor.

For more information about, visit NM Eclipse Ballooning project.

Author: Paulo Oemig – NMSU

NMSU ranks No. 1 in Nation in Science, Engineering Funding for Minority-Serving Institutions

New Mexico State University ranks first in the country for federal obligations for science and engineering activities for minority-serving institutions according to a report from the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

A high-Hispanic enrollment institution, NMSU led the nation in receiving $48.8 million in federal science and engineering obligations during the 2015 fiscal year. The majority of the funds, 84 percent, were in the research and development category, and 62 percent of the science and engineering total came from the Department of Defense ($11.6 million), NSF ($9.6 million) and NASA ($9 million).

Other institutions listed with NMSU in the top 20 include UTEP, University of Texas at San Antonio, Florida A&M and Florida International.

“This is just another indication of NMSU’s excellence in science and engineering,” said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. “It’s appropriate that this recognition comes to a Hispanic-Serving Institution already known for excellence in the STEM fields.”

Chelsea Garno, a biology graduate student, is conducting NSF-funded research to describe how a cell divides from one to two cells because shortly after the phenomenon was discovered and described in the 1970s, there were no further studies into the contractile ring, until recently.

“The contractile ring is a transient actomyosin structure that forms in the middle of a cell that is highly regulated temporally and spatially. I am working with several proteins, namely Anillin, Septin, Myosin and Actin, to determine the roles of each of these proteins during the first cell division after fertilization in sea urchin eggs,” said Garno, who plans to attend medical school after earning her master’s degree.

Garno encourages students to find research opportunities.

“My advice to any students who are aspiring to do research, regardless of the field, is to reach out to your professors about any research opportunities they are aware of in their field. If they do not have a research lab on campus, they may know someone who does and can get you connected to a research lab that interests you,” Garno said.

Initially introduced to NMSU by a friend who is a graduate, Clara Ross said she choose NMSU for graduate school to study cellular biology, which incorporated her interest in both molecular biology and biochemistry.

“I found NMSU to have knowledgeable and diverse faculty members as well as a wide spread of research interests,” she said. “I have had great experiences working with the undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty. They are open and helpful allowing me to be productive and learn every day.”

To view the entire report, click here.

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers Announces Retirement

New Mexico State University Chancellor Garrey Carruthers plans to retire from his position July 1, 2018, at the end of his contract period.

“I have tremendously enjoyed my time here at NMSU, as a student, professor, dean and for the past four years serving as chancellor and president of this great university,” Carruthers said. “I’m enthusiastically looking forward to what we can accomplish in the next 11 months.”

Carruthers was named as NMSU’s president and chancellor in 2013. Since that time, he has focused on a number of important projects, including student recruitment, fundraising, marketing, strengthening connections with the community colleges in the NMSU system, improving efforts to foster student success and making the university more entrepreneurial.

“I am particularly pleased with our student recruitment efforts, which will result in a substantial increase in this year’s incoming freshman class,” Carruthers said. “We’ve also been mindful of our students’ success once they arrive on campus. That’s why we’ve implemented a central advising center, early warning indicators, a first-year residency requirement and other efforts to make sure the student experience at NMSU is the very best.”

“I want to congratulate Chancellor Carruthers on his retirement and thank him for his partnership in higher education initiatives,” said New Mexico Higher Education Secretary Barbara Damron.

“Working with Chancellor Carruthers every day is a great privilege. He is smart, well-informed, wise and a dear friend,” said NMSU executive vice president and provost Dan Howard. “He is the face of New Mexico State University and the most effective proponent of higher education in the state, both with the Legislature and the public. He has had a transformative influence on NMSU. I look forward to continuing our work together over the course of the next year, especially in the areas of student recruitment, student success and the improvement of the research enterprise.”

Fundraising has been a key focus area during the time Carruthers has spent as chancellor, particularly to support student scholarships as well as the university’s teaching, research and outreach functions. NMSU publicly launched its Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign earlier this year – the most ambitious campaign in NMSU system history with a goal of raising more than $125 million in cash and pledges. To date, the campaign is more than 62 percent complete, having raised nearly $77 million. Those funds benefit students across the entire NMSU system, including each of the university’s community colleges.

“We are so fortunate to have someone as outstanding as Garrey Carruthers to lead this university,” said Andrea Tawney, NMSU’s vice president for advancement, marketing and communications. “He essentially serves as our chief fundraising officer and helped us make this past year the most successful fundraising year we’ve had since the beginning of our campaign four years ago. In fact, we were able to raise more in cash and pledges in the past year than at any time in the past decade. It’s been rewarding to work alongside the Chancellor and it’s always a blast to see how he connects with our Aggie alumni anywhere we go across the U.S. I also appreciate that he invests in people and has taken time to mentor and build leadership ability in everyone by setting the example of a true transformational leader.”

“Over the many years I have worked with the Chancellor, in public life as well as in private business, I have known him to have extraordinary leadership abilities to gather teams who work effectively together to accomplish major positive change,” said Sharon Jones, who worked with Carruthers during his time as governor, in business and later at NMSU. “As in his past leadership roles, he has done just that at NMSU by leading this institution through very challenging times to transform itself for more efficient operations while still serving our students, faculty and staff.”

One of the largest projects Carruthers has overseen is the Transforming NMSU into a 21st Century University initiative – a massive effort to seek efficiencies by examining and overhauling the way the university does business, from its organizational structure to the way it handles purchasing, finance services, information technology and other areas. Projected savings from the project total more than $10 million. Carruthers said the savings from this effort are especially important in the face of declining appropriations from the state.

“I’m disappointed. I really wish he could stay a while longer,” State Sen. Mary Kay Papen said. “Chancellor Carruthers has done a great job. He’s led the university through some trying times and he’s done so successfully. He also works magnificently with our legislative delegation and our community.”

“Garrey Carruthers has made a lot of tough decisions during his time as chancellor,” State Sen. John Arthur Smith said. “He’s been proactive, not reactive, by getting in front of budget issues when no one else was. He’s pointed NMSU in a positive direction.”

“Garrey Carruthers has been a lodestar in transforming not only individual lives, but the entire culture of this university,” said NMSU General Counsel Liz Ellis. “Integrity, respect, transparency and an absolute unshakeable dedication to the success of NMSU have been his hallmarks. Through his power as a consensus builder, NMSU avoided turmoil and strife, while successfully weathering budget cuts and many other necessary changes. Personally, I will greatly miss him as a mentor and a model for good leadership. Long into the future, his kindly and frequent admonishment to ‘live life with courage’ will ring in my ears.”

Carruthers holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from NMSU and is the university’s 27th president. Coincidently, Carruthers also served as New Mexico’s 27th governor. He is the only NMSU graduate to serve either as the university’s chancellor or New Mexico’s governor. He received a Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.

After his career in politics, Carruthers served as president and CEO of a successful managed health care company. He became dean of the NMSU College of Business in 2003, also serving as the university’s vice president for economic development and director of the Pete V. Domenici Institute. As vice president for economic development, he was instrumental in establishing NMSU’s Arrowhead Center.

“Chancellor Carruthers is the ultimate Aggie and has been a truly outstanding and inspirational leader for NMSU. Because of his many accomplishments, we are by far a stronger and more sustainable institution allowing us to continue to provide the highest quality education to our students and excellent service to the citizens of New Mexico,” said Angela Throneberry, NMSU’s former senior vice president for administration and finance who retired earlier this month.

“I would like to thank the Chancellor for his many years of leadership at New Mexico State University, both as chancellor and as dean,” said NMSU Board of Regents Chair Debra Hicks. “He has worked steadfast to transform NMSU for the future and enhance our student centric institution. The Chancellor has said he has some projects on his list he wishes to complete before his retirement. I look forward to our conquest to play the golf courses around New Mexico during his retirement.”

“We have sailed this ship together through some stormy seas,” Carruthers said. “When we hit some calm, it was amazing to discover just how well we had charted the course and how successful we’ve been in transforming NMSU into a 21st century university.”

Author:  Justin Bannister – NMSU

Natalie Goldberg First Woman to Lead NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station

When Natalie Goldberg joined New Mexico State University as an assistant professor and Extension plant pathologist in 1993, she wasn’t thinking about becoming an associate dean in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences someday.

She was focused on plants. Whether it’s identifying a plant pest or determining the best pest management strategy, she loves working with plants.

After all, she earned both her doctorate and master of science in plant pathology from the University of Arizona after receiving a bachelor of science in ornamental horticulture from Cal Poly Pomona.

After working her way up to associate professor and professor at NMSU, she was asked to serve as the interim department head of Extension Plant Sciences in 2007. Soon after – very soon after – she was asked to drop the “interim” part of her title, and that appointment lasted 10 years.

On July 1, Goldberg became the first woman to take the helm of the NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station. College of ACES Dean Rolando Flores announced in May that Goldberg would be the interim associate dean and director of AES.

“Dr. Goldberg has extensive experience in managing a very successful Extension department that is characterized by outreach and applied research,” Flores said. “Her approach reflects the integration we need to have, as a land-grant university, between Extension and research activities.”

The AES is not a physical location but an agricultural research system of NMSU scientists. Those scientists are located at 12 centers around the state, from the Fabian Garcia Research Center in Las Cruces to the Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, and from the John T. Harrington Forestry Research Center at Mora to the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center north of Las Cruces.

The first 23 acres of land was purchased for AES in 1906. Today, the AES system accounts for 94,884 acres of land across New Mexico. Since 1907, AES has been under the direction of about 16 different male associate deans.

Just a few weeks into her new leadership role, there is no question about Goldberg’s top two priorities. She will analyze the budget and take part in a thorough review of all science centers.

“The budget is one of my primary responsibilities, so I need to make sure that we stay within our allocated amount of funding,” Goldberg said. “We’re in a time when we’ve had some cuts, and there’s not a lot of reserve funding. I need to figure out how to balance building the reserve funding, but continue maintaining and hiring faculty. My theory going into the next legislative session is that we are not likely to see increased funding. If we continue to receive cuts in our funding, we’re going to need to make some tough financial decisions.”

As far as reviewing all science centers, Goldberg will have some assistance. Prior to her appointment, Dean Flores had established an advisory committee of 17 members to assess each center and to analyze the AES system as a whole. The committee is comprised of six members from the agricultural industry, Goldberg, Associate Director of AES Steve Loring and four faculty members, one department head, two science center farm managers and two science center superintendents.

Goldberg said the committee has gathered plenty of background data on the centers.

“We need to look at how the centers are funded, where that money came from and how that money is being used,” she said. “Many of the centers were built on legislative support from their local constituency. For example, growers in the Artesia area were able to secure funding for faculty at that center.

“We’ll work with this committee to conduct a very detailed review of each of the ag science centers. What are they providing that’s unique to the system and that’s important to their area? How are they impacting the agriculture in the immediate area that they serve? What are they doing globally? What are their immediate and longer-term infrastructure needs? This overall review is very important, and it’s one of my first tasks.”

The committee had its first in-person meeting July 19.

In her new role, Goldberg would also like to focus on the connections among science centers, between science centers and the College of ACES and between AES and the Cooperative Extension Service.

“It’s not that the centers are operating independently, but I’d like to see even more connectivity,” she said. “There are certainly collaborations out there. And I’d like to see a more developed Extension–research connection.”

Goldberg also acknowledged that she is much more familiar with the plant science aspect and needs to learn much more about the animal science side.

She plans to explore partnership development between the science centers and the private sector in their communities. She has seen mutually beneficial partnerships formed between other universities and companies in the agricultural industry and said similar potential opportunities may exist for NMSU.

Although overseeing AES will be demanding, Goldberg is no stranger to challenges.

She took the NMSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic from a small desk in a tiny office with a couple of petri dishes and a salvaged microscope in 1993 to a fully accredited clinic by the National Plant Diagnostic Network last year. The only other labs with this designation are at Cornell University, the University of Florida and the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

She hopes to find the same type of success in her new role with AES.

For more information about the NMSU Agricultural Experiment Station, please visit

Writer: Kristie Garcia – NMSU

NMSU County Extension Agents Provide ‘Train-the-Trainer Hospitality Workshops

Tourism, a more than $6 billion industry in New Mexico, is a leading employer and plays a critical role in diversifying the state’s economy.

In 2015, millions of dollars, which includes leisure and business travel, were spent in every county in the state, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department.

To support the state tourism New Mexico TRUE campaign, New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences is helping rural communities to make a good first impression for the visitors.

The college’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management has developed TRUE Hospitality, a training program to help community leaders provide tourism employees and job seekers with the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to deliver high quality customer service to residents and visitors.

NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service county agents are conducting train-the-trainer sessions when requested.

“The idea started in Santa Rosa,” said Jon Boren, ACES associate dean and director of CES. “Community leaders saw a real economic development opportunity through tourism. They asked our county agent Leigh Ann Marez if she could provide some assistance with hospitality/tourism type training for the youth and adults.”

In the past, CES conducted a similar training program as part of the Rural Economic Development Through Tourism project. When federal funding was eliminated, the state lost that programing effort.

“We recognized we have had a void in that area and we needed some training at the county level,” Boren said. “We asked HRTM Professor Priscilla Bloomquist and training coordinator Allison Southworth to design a workshop and website support.”

Extension agents have been trained in the workshop material and they will train people, who can then teach employees in the hospitality industry in their community.

“This training material also has application for employment opportunities with non-tourism business,” Southworth said. “It’s just good, common sense customer service practices such as the importance of first impressions, positive attitude, communication skills and professional courtesy.”

In addition, there is an introduction to tourism and the New Mexico TRUE campaign. The workshop also encourages participants to know the attractions, activities and services in their area that they may share with visitors.

The three-part PowerPoint presentation, including interactive activities and video links, takes approximately three hours to conduct. Community leaders may contact their local county agent for further information.

Author:  Jane Moorman – NMSU

Experienced Winemaker Named new Viticulturist at NMSU

When you take a sip of your favorite wine, you most likely savor the delicious flavors and take in the distinct aromas. But you probably don’t think about the science behind that smooth, tasty beverage.

Gill Giese certainly knows the science behind wine. And he just joined New Mexico State University as its Extension viticulture specialist.

Giese spent the last four years as a commercial winemaker at Shelton Vineyards in Dobson, North Carolina. Spanning over 100 acres, more than 400 tons of grapes are grown and processed from the vineyard each year, where Giese and his staff bottled between 25,000 and 30,000 bottles of wine annually. Giese will bring his viticultural and winemaking knowledge to the NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences beginning this month.

Giese – who is located at the Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas – will also serve as an assistant professor for NMSU Extension Plant Sciences. For 12 years, he was the lead instructor for viticulture and enology at Surry Community College, also in Dobson.

Giese earned his doctorate in horticulture from Virginia Tech. He received a bachelor of science in agriculture and master of science in horticulture from the University of Arkansas.

Rolston St. Hilaire, interim department head of NMSU Extension Plant Sciences, said NMSU will benefit from Giese’s expertise.

“Dr. Giese brings both a wealth of industry experience and a solid academic background to NMSU’s Extension Plant Sciences Viticulture Program,” St. Hilaire said.

Not only did he teach at Surry Community College, he established its viticulture and enology two-year degree program and curriculum.

As a research specialist for six years with the University of Arkansas Food Science Department, he managed a six-acre research vineyard and pilot winery.

Jon Boren, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service associate dean and director, said Giese’s experiences with various aspects of wine should benefit New Mexico as a whole.

“Dr. Gill Giese is bringing over 20 years of experience in grape production and winemaking to New Mexico,” Boren said. “He has experience conducting educational programs, teaching in classroom and informal settings, conducting academic research and working in commercial wineries. He will be a tremendous resource for the New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service in the College of ACES and for the producers and winemakers in the state.”

Giese’s appointment at NMSU is 75 percent Extension and 25 percent research. This combination – in addition to the state’s unique wine history – is what attracted him to NMSU.

“This position combined both teaching and research, and along with the challenging growing environment in New Mexico, I found this opportunity to be very interesting,” Giese said.

The growing conditions in New Mexico are challenging mainly due to the wide variety and diversity of vineyard sites, as well as significant changes in temperature.

“I’ve been talking to New Mexico winegrowers who have been successful overcoming different challenges, such as heat during ripening and survivability during the winter,” Giese said.

In addition to addressing growing challenges, one of Giese’s priorities is to help growers increase both quality and production efficiency.

“I want to work with county Extension Service agents to help growers,” he said. “I’d like to get all the growers on the same page, help them improve wine quality and facilitate marketing in order to make a consistent profit.”

Giese understands the importance of the economic impact the wine industry has on the state.

“Wine has a rippling effect on the economy, whether it’s the agricultural and winery related supply chains, retail and restaurants, or festivals” he said. “New Mexico is a beautiful state with a storied wine history, and tourism is part of the modern economy. Wine can play a major role in tourism, as it is threaded throughout history and the human experience.”

Author:  Kristie Garcia – NMSU

New Class of President’s Associates Scholars Prepare to Become Aggies

Each year, the walkways on the New Mexico State University campus fill with a new class of eager freshmen.

Since 1978, that freshman class has included a select group of students who come from all over New Mexico and have earned one of the institution’s most prestigious awards, the President’s Associates Scholarship.

The President’s Associates Scholarship, established by late NMSU President Emeritus Gerald Thomas, was the first leadership-initiated giving program, created as a way to honor some of the best and brightest in New Mexico.

The program seeks out select freshmen enrolling at NMSU directly from New Mexico high schools. These high schoolers have not only excelled in academics, but have already sought out ways to make their communities better. This year’s class of PA Scholars includes 15 students from around the state.

Las Cruces Centennial High graduate Danae Melón said the final push for her to stay in New Mexico was the offer of the PA Scholarship.

“My last few years in high school I really thought about how it would be good to stay here and build a foundation using the excellent education I could get at NMSU,” Melón said. “The PA Scholarship gave me everything I could have needed to know I was making the right decision.”

Melón looks to go into microbiology, with her eyes on medical school in the future.

“I’m thankful for donors providing me this opportunity because I’m not sure where I would have ended up,” she said.

Incoming Aggie freshman Connor Draney hails from La Luz, New Mexico, and is excited not only to double major in biology and microbiology, but also to join the Pride of New Mexico, the NMSU marching band as a percussionist.

Draney has been busy in high school, too. A National Honor Society member, Draney went to All-State for three years and became a Boys State representative in his junior year and a Boys State Junior Counselor in his senior year. To top off all that, Draney is also an Eagle Scout.

“I never really wanted to go far away for school, and my mom is pretty relieved about that,” Draney laughed. He knew that he really wanted to go to NMSU, with which he was already familiar, and applied for the PA Scholarship as soon as it became available.

“An NMSU representative came to the awards ceremony at school, and he listed each scholarship and winner,” said Draney, whose proud parents were in the audience. “My award came at the very end, with the representative saying that he’d need to take a minute to explain how special this scholarship is.”

The President’s Associates Scholarship covers the full cost of tuition, fees and housing, plus an additional annual stipend of $3,250 for other educational expenses. The NMSU Foundation and PA Board of Directors are continually working to build the scholarship’s endowment with additional gifts from donors.

This year’s fundraising initiative for the scholarship was the PA Virtual Ball, which featured an online auction of VIP experience packages, opportunities to attend privately hosted mini-dinners in Las Cruces, Albuquerque and Phoenix, and even items like fine art and concert tickets. The items came from generous donors and local businesses.

It’s donor support that starts their journey, but Draney has already noticed the support coming from NMSU before he’s even on campus for the fall. “They’ve already contacted me to explain the resources available to me in the Honors College,” he said.

Draney is grateful for the opportunity to come to NMSU and looks forward to proving himself to those who gave to the scholarship fund. “I want to just thank donors heartily for their gifts, and that they can feel secure that I will use the funds well,” Draney said.

“For nearly 40 years, President’s Associates Scholarships have provided outstanding and motivated New Mexico students with the financial support necessary to allow them to reach their potential, and encouraged them to use their talents here in New Mexico,” said Andrea Tawney, president of the NMSU Foundation. “Current PA Scholars are a diverse group from disciplines all over campus, and they share a common goal – a sincere desire to serve their communities and to create positive change in our world.”

The PA Virtual Ball fundraiser netted more than $57,000 to support the scholarship recipients, thanks to generous donors and businesses, and was part of the NMSU system’s $125 million “Ignite Aggie Discovery” campaign, which extends through 2019.

The fundraising effort, which launched its public phase in April, is the largest cash campaign in the university’s history, with a goal of adding $50 million in scholarship endowments to support student success. To learn more about the Ignite Aggie Discovery campaign, visit

Author:  Cassie McClure – NMSU

Video+Story: NMSU Students get First-Hand Experience at Archaeological Dig

An associate professor of anthropology and University Museum director at New Mexico State University recently led a six-week field school for anthropology students and enthusiasts in the Gila National Forest.

Fumiyasu Arakawa in the College of Arts and Sciences is the principal investigator for the department’s field-school program, which is a collaborative effort between NMSU and the Gila National Forest Service.

“Students do a very traditional archaeological research that is excavation,” Arakawa said. “They dig about six to eight hours, then they have to process their discoveries.”

This processing includes washing the artifacts, then setting it out to dry. No preservative chemicals are applied to the discoveries because such chemicals might contaminate any evidence that could help archaeologists and anthropologists determine how old the discoveries are and how these objects were used.

“For undergraduate students, if they want to be archaeologists, they need at least one field-school experience,” Arakawa said.

In the 2017 field-school, there were 19 participants: 11 NMSU graduate students and four undergrads, and four experienced volunteers.

They conducted excavations at South Diamond Creek Pueblo and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in the Gila National Forest and visited Chaco Canyon.  They also camped out for five nights at Beaverhead Work Center, then returned to Las Cruces for two nights.

“The sites are known by archaeologists as part of the Mimbres culture,” Arakawa said. “These people inhabited these areas from probably 1,000 A.D. to about 1,130. A.D. The direct descendants of the group in this culture are still difficult to determine.”

The Mimbres people are unique in their architecture, which consists of river cobbles and adobe, as well as in their black-and-white pottery, Arakawa said.

Arakawa came to NMSU in 2011 and two years later, was contacted by the Gila Forest Service. He conducts the field school every other year.

William Walker, also a professor of anthropology at NMSU, hosts the field school in the years in between.

Arakawa said the collaboration has resulted in an excellent working relationship with the Gila National Forest and the USDA Forest Service in the larger picture. Arakawa said he hopes this collaboration will soon result in NMSU anthropology students getting jobs with either the Gila, the Forest Service, or other federal agencies.

“Attending the field school is a very good opportunity for our students,” Arakawa said. “These days it’s a rare opportunity. NMSU is one of the few schools running a field school. Some students, especially graduate students, can use this project as his or her thesis or internship report and get their degrees.”

Arakawa said the field school regularly discovers three major categories of artifacts: lithics (stone tools and their debris), animal remains, and pottery.

“In 2017 we found a lot of artifacts but probably the best one is a very small pottery vessel, a jar,” Arakawa said.

The jar was found by Vanessa Carrillo, a master’s student in anthropology at NMSU and a participant in the field school.

“It was the only complete vessel we found,” Carrillo said.

Finding an intact piece of pottery is unusual and wonderful when it happens, Carrillo said. Even more impressive is the fact the jar has a large crack in its lower half. Carrillo and Arakawa surmise the jar is still held together only thanks to the dirt that is packed inside.

Carrillo and Arakawa plan to remove the dirt inside of the jar, hopefully without it crumbling, and look for evidence—such as corn kernels—as to what purpose the jar served.

“This type of pottery is called Alma Plain ware,” Carrillo said. “It dates back to 250 A.D. to about 1,300 A.D..”

Carrillo found the jar in the South Diamond Creek Pueblo site, which Arakawa said has never been professionally excavated or researched by archaeologists before NMSU’s field school.

“There are so many sites there, but we don’t know anything about it,” he said. “So we take it step by step, excavating and surveying, and eventually understand much better how those Mimbres people lived.”

Carrillo said participating in a field school in the American Southwest is a great opportunity and is in fact important for future archaeologists and anthropologists because of the degree of preservation and distribution of artifacts.

“You don’t really appreciate that until you go out to sites that are not in the Southwest,” she said. “It’s not common to find an artifacts scatter on the surface.”

Carrillo said she’d like to work for the Forest Service’s Cultural Resource Management, to preserve and protect natural and cultural resources for the benefit of future generations.

Arakawa, who is also the director of the University Museum at Kent Hall, said the next step is to provide more thorough information about the field school’s finds.

“Now we catalogue and classify the artifacts,” he said.

The museum is seeking volunteers for this process.

“We don’t ask volunteers to have any archaeological background,” Arakawa said. “We pretty much teach them how to do it.”

To learn more about volunteering, contact the program’s Facebook page at: New Mexico State University Archaeology Field School.

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

NMSU Receives Second-Highest Score in Nation as Leader in Equal Access to Higher Education

In a recent report from the Brookings Institution, New Mexico State University was listed as a leader in equal access to higher education.

The report gave NMSU the second-highest score in the nation as a public university that provides opportunities for social mobility to students and produces valuable research.

Helping students achieve their goals starts when graduates first arrive at NMSU.

Kaylene Womack, as a first-generation college student and teenage mom when she enrolled at NMSU, was determined not to become a statistic. She encourages other students not to give up when times are difficult.

“It’s not going to be easy. You’ll go through hurdles every semester, every year, but keep pushing forward and know what your end goal is,” she said. “The end goal is to get that degree and be a role model for younger siblings and cousins to show them it is possible. Being that leader within your family is huge, so keep pushing forward.”

An NMSU Daniels Fund Scholar, Womack said she found a caring community on campus to help achieve her goal of becoming a teacher, and she credits Tony Marin, Michelle Saenz-Adames and Terry Cook from the student success center as mentors. A 2016 graduate, Womack now teaches kindergarten at Hillrise Elementary in Las Cruces.

In the Brookings report, “Ladders, labs, or laggards? Which public universities contribute most” by Dimitrios Halikias and Richard V. Reeves, the pair evaluated 342 of the nation’s selective public four-year universities “using newly-available tax data from the Equality of Opportunity Project at Stanford to gauge mobility and an independent ranking from the Carnegie Foundation to assess research activity – to determine which universities are ladders or labs, and which universities are laggards less deserving of public funding.” Private universities, historically black colleges and universities, public liberal arts colleges and military-oriented institutions were not considered.

NMSU ranks second as a leader for acting as both a ladder for social mobility and laboratory for research. Of the universities considered, NMSU, as a leader, is among only 20 percent of the universities accomplished in both categories.

Among the top 25 universities selected as leaders, NMSU surpassed the University of New Mexico, University of Houston system, University of California Riverside, University of Texas San Antonio, University of California Irvine, University of South Florida, Binghamton University, University of Texas Arlington and others.

NMSU is considered a ladder for promoting social mobility by helping low-income students achieve higher levels on the income ladder following graduation. Nearly 18 percent of NMSU students come from the bottom 20 percent income bracket.

“I was absolutely delighted to receive the Brookings report, which indicated New Mexico State University is not only a great science university, but is also paying attention to upward mobility,” said NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers. “It’s very important to our state to have good science, but we also have a number of students who we can move up through our process and make their quality of life much finer through a quality education. We’re very proud of our standing as number 2 in the country.”

To read the complete report, click HERE

Author:  Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU Receives STARS Gold Rating for Sustainability Achievements

New Mexico State University has earned a STARS Gold rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.

“NMSU’s Office of Sustainability completed its first STARS report in 2011 and achieved a Silver rating,” said joni newcomer, NMSU’s manager of the Office of Sustainability and the Environmental Education Center. “In 2012, with the help of many dedicated Sustainability Council members, we achieved a STARS Gold rating that expired in 2015 and the Council members jumped on board again to do the report.”

Information about sustainable practices, courses, programs and research projects from all colleges, individual researchers, faculty and administrative staff contributed to the report.

Since the first report in 2011, NMSU has used the report to raise awareness of sustainability efforts on campus and to achieve more sustainability-related successes. The STARS report allows the Office of Sustainability to share information on a global level regarding NMSU’s sustainability practices and performance.

“We are delighted to have achieved a Gold rating for the second time, knowing that we have made heartfelt efforts in increasing our environmental successes,” newcomer said. “This report ties us together as a caring community with goals to take care of the environment here on campus and beyond, touching the lives of each one of us.”

With more than 800 participants on six continents, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance. Participants report achievements in four overall areas: academics, engagement, operations and planning and administration.

“STARS was developed by the campus sustainability community to provide high standards for recognizing campus sustainability efforts,” said AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “NMSU has demonstrated a substantial commitment to sustainability by achieving a STARS Gold rating and is to be congratulated for their efforts.”

NMSU’s STARS report is publicly available on the STARS website.

Editor’s Note: joni newcomer is intentionally lowercase at her request.

Author: Darrell J. Pehr – NMSU

NMSU Professor’s Book on Criminal Gangs Sparks new Study in Borderland

A New Mexico State University criminal justice professor recently published a book detailing criminal gang activities in San Antonio, Texas, for the past 100 years.

Mike Tapia, an assistant professor in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, first became involved in criminal gangs after graduating from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. He took a job as a caseworker for gang intervention. His interest in the topic of criminal gangs, specifically juvenile delinquency, compelled him to go back to school, eventually earning his doctorate in sociology.

“I teach a class at NMSU called Street Subcultures & the Underclass, and we try to understand these subcultures that emerge in high-poverty areas and we try to understand what keeps people in this cyclical gang lifestyle,” Tapia said.

His book, “The Barrio Gangs and Criminal Networks of San Antonio, Texas, 1915-2015,” examines these questions and others regarding the role of networks, family influences, and generational changes in gang structure and norms.

Barrio gangs, Tapia said, are a phenomenon that has occurred for the past 100 years in poor southwestern communities.

“I want to conduct this kind of study for the Borderlands region,” Tapia said. “I’ve just begun a study of that nature here in Las Cruces.”

The new study will focus on criminal gang activities in Las Cruces, Anthony, and El Paso, Tapia said.

“My students inform me in that process,” he said. “It’s not only me teaching them, it’s also them teaching me, telling me what they’ve seen in terms of gang culture here.”

Tapia said his research into historical criminal gang activities is important because it gives his students a better understanding of gang culture, which will make them better law-enforcement officers, can educate veteran law-enforcement officers, and spark interests in criminal justice or sociology for graduate study.

“We tend to think of gangs as this kind of separate thing that happens underneath the surface of conventional society but on the contrary, especially in a working-class Mexican-American town like San Antonio, or El Paso, you really don’t have to look far to find that average folks have some kind of connection,” Tapia said.

Tapia’s research found that some kind of youth gang activity in San Antonio was pretty normal.

“When you get to know the people that participated in gangs, you find that they have very normal, mundane qualities,” Tapia said. “It’s called human capital in sociological terms and it struck me that gang members have high levels of human capital.”

Tapia’s research into 100 years of criminal gangs in San Antonio found that less than 10 percent of youth joined criminal gangs or continued criminal activities into their later lives.

“Most people age out or some event happens in their life that takes them out of it,” he said.

Tapia used archived records—newspapers mostly—to detail gang activity in the earlier periods of his research. As he moved forward chronologically, he was able to arrange interviews with former gang members, both men and women.

“As a gang social worker, I interacted a lot with modern gangs through the 1990s,” Tapia said. “So a lot of the later chapters reflect my own personal knowledge and observations.”

With the exception of graduate school, Tapia lived in San Antonio from 1992 to 2015.

“So for pretty much all of my adult life, I’ve been studying Chicano gangs in San Antonio and I learned quite a bit,” he said.

Author: Billy Huntsman – NMSU

Health Tech Startups Across NM Invited to New ‘Virtual Accelerator’ at Arrowhead Center

In the health technology industry, innovation is a constant. New ideas for devices, products and services are always emerging, but it can be difficult to access the potential customer base that’s needed to test the feasibility of these innovations in a timely manner.

That’s where Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University can help, with a new accelerator program targeting health tech startups across the state in need of customer discovery research opportunities and a network of regional industry contacts to draw from.

Offering participants $2,000 to accelerate their business, HealthSprint is the latest in a series of Arrowhead Accelerator programs being provided by Arrowhead Center, NMSU’s entrepreneurship and innovation hub, through funding from New Mexico Gas Company, an Emera Company.

HealthSprint is a four-week program designed to launch successful health technology startups in the state of New Mexico. The program is modeled on the National Science Foundation I-Corps program and designed to support growth-driven companies. Teams do not need any prior NMSU affiliation to be considered, and selected businesses can participate in the program’s curriculum and its weekly workshops virtually or in-person, making HealthSprint accessible for health technology entrepreneurs all across New Mexico.

Previous Arrowhead Accelerator cohorts have included TechSprint, which focused on tech startups in New Mexico, and AgSprint, which attracted agricultural technology businesses from across the Southwest. Another cohort, BizSprint, getting underway this month will support New Mexico-based startups that plan to sell their products and services outside the state.

Khan Muhammad of Albuquerque recently participated in the TechSprint accelerator as the entrepreneurial lead for Electric Avenue Consulting, which is commercializing a technology for in-motion charging of electric vehicles. He said he was surprised by the unique approach that the program offered to learn more about his potential customer base.

“Within the first week,” he said, “I found that what the experience was offering was the opportunity for us to develop and grow our idea in a very short time period in a very safe space.”

Each HealthSprint team has a required structure, including an entrepreneurial lead based in New Mexico, a technical lead and a business mentor, and Arrowhead Center can help connect applicants to potential team members who could fill any roles that are missing. Teams will conduct market research, and those that successfully complete the curriculum will receive $2,000 to further advance the business. Each team will also receive access to additional follow-on funding through Arrowhead Innovation Fund and mentorship through Arrowhead Innovation Network Ventures.

“HealthSprint is a great opportunity for health tech startups in New Mexico to test the viability of their business, win $2,000 and gain access to some substantial follow-on funding opportunities,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Aggie I-Corps, NMSU’s National Science Foundation Innovation Corps Site at Arrowhead Center. “We are excited to offer the program and look forward to supporting some great health tech businesses in New Mexico.”

As an additional benefit, HealthSprint teams may also be granted eligibility to apply for NSF’s National I-Corps program, which includes a $50,000 award.

Applications for the summer cohort of HealthSprint are open through July 23 at The cohort will meet Friday mornings August 11 to September 1.

For additional information, contact Studio G at

Author:  Amanda Bradford-NMSU

State 4-H Conference at NMSU will Focus on Helping Youth Reach their Potential

With a theme of “Do More, Grow More and Be More,” the State 4-H Conference at New Mexico State University Monday through Thursday, July 10-13, will be a busy, exciting week for hundreds of senior 4-H members from across New Mexico.

“The theme for this year’s conference branches from the 4-H Grows national campaign established through the National 4-H Organization,” said Amy Zemler, NMSU 4-H youth activities specialist. “The state and national programs strive to give youth every opportunity through projects, contests, events and leadership roles to grow and reach goals they have set.”

A highlight of the conference will be Monday night when motivational speaker Michael Cuestas takes the stage.

Cuestas connects with teens through his personal stories, entertaining humor and a compelling message. He grew up in poverty without knowing his father and has lived in a homeless shelter, a center for victims of domestic violence and even a tent.

Undaunted, Cuestas was able to persevere through these struggles and he encourages students to be leaders and to know that they are greater than any obstacle that may come their way. Cuestas has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has worked for six Fortune 500 companies.

Other highlights of the conference include contests, workshops, evening sessions, an awards ceremony and the election of new State Officers. Workshop topics will range from “Animal Science,” “Life After High School,” “Natural Science” and “Agriculture” to “Developing Your Career,” “How to Become a State 4-H Officer,” “Making Healthy Choices” and “Tips for Surviving College!”

This year the conference will have dances all three nights, with the themes of “Safari,” “Rock N’ Roll” and “Disney.”

For more information and registration details, participants can check with their local Cooperative Extension Service county office.

Author: Darrell J. Pehr – NMSU

NMSU Students use Social Media to Stir Immigration Discussion

We’ve all seen those Facebook posts from a friend or family member that make you feel uncomfortable because they seem so extreme. What do you do? Post an angry reply? Block their posts?

One group of New Mexico State University students is trying to counter extremism and violent language surrounding the topic of immigration with a communication campaign on social media.

The NMSU project is titled Spreading Peace and Countering Extremism (SPACE). NMSU students in professor Kenneth Hacker’s political communications class have created a communication plan using a website and social media channels to challenge pre-conceived notions about immigrants and to open discussion about immigration and the recent presidential election.

“We live in a very interesting political area,” said Shannon Eiffle, an NMSU senior government major involved in the project. “Being right on the border, we hear so many different views of immigration. Our entire goal is that discussion of these issues remain safe,” she said. “So the rhetoric can be stabilized and kept from becoming violent.”

The NMSU group is joining teams from colleges and universities across the United States as part of “Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism.” The project initiated by Edventure Partners and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is sponsoring a competition for college student groups to design and execute social media strategies to counter extremism as part of their coursework. The three most promising ideas will have their campaigns launched in the marketplace.

Hacker, NMSU professor and department head of communications studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, is spearheading the project.

Department head of communications studies Kenneth Hacker participated in the team’s social media challenge to submit a photo saying what generation of an immigrant he is. (Courtesy photo) JAN17

“Our goal was to approach this subject through peer to peer public diplomacy,” said Hacker. “In this challenge, university students develop and execute campaigns and social media strategies against extremism in a way that is clear by their peers. This enables students from different parts of the world to discuss the topic and create a level of peaceful discourse to discourage extremism.”

The team’s campaign seeks to counter the violent language used to incite the public that has become more prominent since the 2016 presidential election.

Their goal is to create a place where others can discuss this subject openly, while countering the extremism that comes from both sides.

“We want these subjects to be a safe place for people,” said Maria Vitola, a graduate student studying Geography. “Our goal is to provide a place for peaceful dialogue.”

Each student was split into different groups that helped to develop the campaign. The teams included budget, metrics, production, social media and public relations.

“We took this one step at a time,” said Andrew Potter, a graduate student studying communications studies. “We were able to be creative with what we were doing, and make sure we focused on each part of this topic.”

NMSU’s SPACE team received $2,000 in funding from Facebook and the U.S. State Department and another $500 from Edventure Partners as part of their start-up with the campaigns. They then used part of that money to fund different events on campus where the students gave out t-shirts and baked goods in exchange for filling out the team’s survey. Survey questions included ones like “Have you ever seen negative discourse about the 2016 presidential election on social media?” which then opened the conversation for discussion on violent discourse.

They have also used much of their funding on Facebook ads, where the team shares videos and pose questions about political discourse. They measured the interaction from others through Facebook analytics and sentiment analysis.

During the first semester of the campaign last fall, there was not enough interaction on the site to measure, so the team started making adjustments to their campaign. “We are making plans for innovating new videos, logos, content and events for both on and off-campus to generate more interaction,” said Hacker. “We wanted to take what we learned previously and grow from there and this semester we have had much more interaction on Facebook and face-to-face.”

Currently, there are 60 teams working on projects for Edventure, all with different topics aligning with the same theme of countering extremism through social media strategies that are credible, authentic and believable to their peers in conversations about a sensitive subject.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognizes the top three teams with scholarship awards ranging from $5000 to $1000. Winners will be announced over the summer.

“Throughout this entire process, I’ve learned a lot,” said Potter. “Whether we are chosen to or not, I hope that we taught someone something.”

Author:  Taylor Vancel – NMSU