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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU

Tag Archives: NMSU

Marriott Foundation invests $400K into NMSU’s School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

As the New Mexico hospitality industry grows, The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation believes the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management at New Mexico State University is ready to meet the industry’s increasing employment demand. That’s why the organization agreed to invest $400,000 into the program over the next four years.

The gift made to the NMSU Foundation in support of the School of HRTM, which is in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, will create a “Hospitality Futures Center” to foster hospitality career exploration and promote the importance of hospitality education to broaden career paths in the changing industry.

“The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation will have a unique and significant impact on hospitality education, specifically in the Southwest, because they are investing in the only program in the state that offers a bachelor of science in HRTM,” said Tina Byford, interim vice president of University Advancement. “If we want to meet the employment demand in our state, it is critical that more students learn about the industry, NMSU and the School of HRTM. We’re grateful that The Marriott Family Foundation is making this priority at NMSU one of its own.”

According to New Mexico Workforce Connection’s “2018 State of the Workforce Report,” the state’s Foodservice and Accommodations industry – the third largest in New Mexico – is expected to grow at a rate of 15.3%, adding 13,000 jobs by 2024.

“We know the hospitality industry in New Mexico is growing and provides young people with limitless career opportunities,” said Mieka Wick, executive director of The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. “Supporting the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management in this way gives NMSU the tools it needs to educate students about the industry, increase enrollment and develop the next generation of hospitality leaders for New Mexico and globally.”

Part of the funding will refine existing recruitment, outreach and professional development programs and design new hospitality career workshops targeted toward high school students, teachers, guidance counselors and community college students. Efforts will be led by the HRTM program coordinator and a grant-funded assistant.

Additional funding will renovate current office spaces to become the Hospitality Futures Center, which will be a designated area for students to research work and careers, hold meetings, receive career counseling and take part in interviews with industry representatives for internships and employment.

“The Hospitality Futures Center will create new opportunities for us to consolidate, refine and amplify what we already do while introducing new initiatives to continue growing our outreach efforts,” said Jean Hertzman, director of NMSU’s School of HRTM. “Our alumni and industry partner network will be an essential part of communicating the benefits of pursuing lifetime hospitality careers. Our students are immediately prepared to take on supervisory positions and transition to higher levels of management and entrepreneurial ventures across the state and beyond. With The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation’s help, we will be able to recruit and graduate even more of these talented students.”

To honor this support, the program and associated office space will be named the “Marriott Hospitality Futures Center,” pending approval by the University Naming Committee and other appropriate parties.

Author: Angel Mendez – NMSU

NMSU ranks in top 25 for enrolling, graduating women in computer science

Angela Kearns is a New Mexico State University senior graduating with a degree in computer science and mathematics. Last summer she interned at Nike, where she has a job waiting for her after she receives her diploma Saturday, May 11.

She is among the growing number of students who have helped NMSU to rank 22nd among four-year public universities in the United States (which includes more than 200 institutions) for enrolling and graduating women in computer science according to a recent data analysis compiled by ‘The Chronicle of Higher Education.’

“When I started college I was a declared math major, and I honestly knew nothing about computer science,” Kearns said. “Freshman year I enrolled in an introductory computer science course, and I fell in love.”

‘The Chronicle’ analyzes data on higher education to compare colleges on various measures and publishes its analysis in a weekly feature called ‘Chronicle Lists,’ put together by Ruth Hammond, a senior editor.

In January, the list titled ‘Which Colleges Are Best and Worst at Enrolling and Graduating Women in Computer Science and Engineering?’ identified NMSU among the 25 best. The data is from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.

Kearns is among the women that NMSU has attracted and retained to earn a degree in computer science. For many, a key program at NMSU has created an atmosphere of community that invited women in to what has long been considered a male-dominated course of study in the U.S.

Enrico Pontelli, dean of NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences and Regents professor in computer science, credits a program he spearheaded more than 12 years ago with boosting the number of women studying computer science at NMSU. The Young Women in Computing program, part of the National Science Foundation’s Broadening Participation in Computing Initiative, has directly impacted more than 13,000 students.

“The program has involved many faculty members, staff members, student researchers and school teachers,” Pontelli said. “We launched the program in 2006 as a response to the realization that our numbers of undergraduate women enrolled in computer science tanked to about eight percent.

“At that time, NSF had just initiated a new program, and I was able to secure a small supplement to pilot a summer camp for high school students. We were able to expand this pilot into a broader program, inclusive of both summer and academic year experiences. That funding provided us with the opportunity to explore a variety of approaches and learn what key elements make a difference. A second NSF grant, awarded in 2014, was instrumental to formalize the core principles that underlie our efforts.”

Now the percentage of women in computer science at NMSU is close to 24 percent.

For Kearns, the program made the difference in her choosing computer science over another course of study.

“Working with YWiC has helped me so much throughout college,” Kearns said. “It’s given me a support system and community within computer science. YWiC and the NMSU computer science department have greatly impacted my choice in careers by first introducing me to computer science and by providing me with the support to stay in computer science. YWiC and the YWiC coordinators have pushed me to achieve things that I couldn’t have even imagined.”

Catalina Sanchez-Maes was one of hundreds of fifth-grade girls impacted by her participation in an NMSU YWiC-sponsored summer camp.

“I learned that computer science has multiple applications from running software on the computer to more tangible outcomes. I also learned that it could be used in anything that interests me from making music to making a game,” said Sanchez-Maes. “I absolutely loved the hands-on learning that I experienced, which led me to continue on the path of computer science.”

Sanchez-Maes was one of the three NMSU students of 50 selected nationwide this spring to attend the Google Hispanic Student Leadership Summit in Austin, Texas, where she felt ‘connected, embraced and valued in the tech world.’

Pontelli points to several principles that have made YWiC a success. “The sense of belonging is critical, to defeat stereotypes and impostor syndrome,” he said. “But the support of parents, family members, community leaders and K-12 teachers is also important to encourage the pursuit of studies in computing. YWiC pursues outreach to gain early interest, through exposure to the excitement of computing as early as fifth grade, and follows up by sustaining the interest as students move through the grades, especially at the transition points of middle to high school and high school to college. Last but not least, technical preparation offered provides these young women with competence to feel at par, or superior, to male counterparts.”

Pontelli explained the practical reasoning behind encouraging more young women to get involved in computing.

“The field of computing is struggling to identify enough talent to meet the workforce demand. Right now we are missing half of the potential talent by not engaging women. Furthermore, there are many studies that show that diverse working teams are more efficient and produce more effective solutions and designs.”

Las Cruces native Elena Davidson is one of thousands of young women who entered NMSU’s computer science program through YWiC’s middle and high school pipeline. Davidson interned at Google in 2017, received the Computer Alliance for Hispanic Serving Institutions Scholar Award in October 2018 and was also one of three NMSU students selected to participate in Google’s Hispanic Student Leadership Summit.

“YWiC is the reason I am here today,” Davidson said. “I wouldn’t have considered computer science otherwise. I genuinely believed computer science was about guys hiding in their mother’s basement coding for 24-hours straight.”

A weeklong summer camp at NMSU changed her mind. “I remember walking out of that presentation with my project and saying to my mom, ‘This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ I’m graduating in May and none of this would be happening without YWiC.”

Davidson worked with YWiC throughout her college career — as a camp assistant, camp instructor and ultimately an undergraduate research assistant, providing mentorship and encouraging other young women to follow in her footsteps.

“Success stories are fundamental,” Pontelli emphasized. “All our activities in the K-12 system are deployed by undergraduate female students, who serve as peer mentors and as role models to younger students.”

Natasha Nesiba and Esperanza Medina are among many success stories of recent NMSU computer science graduates. Nasiba is a software engineer at Google, who received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science at NMSU in 2013 and 2015 and also served YWiC by mentoring students. Medina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2015 with a double major in mathematics and computer science.

Before graduation, Medina was offered a job at GoDaddy, where she is currently a software developer.

While the YWiC program helps get young women interested in computing, the NMSU computer science faculty is critical to support them through graduation.

“Dr. Karen Villaverde was my instructor and it was encouraging to see a female teaching the course,” Medina said. “It was the professors I encountered in the computer science department that really made a difference for me. I realized that a lot of the feelings I had been having were common. YWiC helped me research the gender gap and get a close look at the problem by allowing me to interact first hand with the youth of Las Cruces.

“From the research I did by first hand teaching in the YWiC summer camps, I witnessed countless intelligent young women that know the answers to your questions, but lack the confidence to speak the answers in a mixed gender class,” Medina said. “YWiC offers all-female summer camps that allow young women to build the confidence in themselves independent of the pressure of being in a mixed gender environment and prepares them with the knowledge to succeed when they do return to mixed classes.”

Gabriella Garcia, the third NMSU student to attend the recent Google Hispanic Leadership Summit, followed a different path to computer science at NMSU. Right after graduating high school in 2008, she entered NMSU to study engineering but was forced to drop out when her father lost his job and she had to help support her family. More than 10 years later, Garcia is back at NMSU after earning an associate degree at Dona Ana Community College. She is now earning her bachelor’s degree in computer science at NMSU and is applying for an internship at Google. Garcia also wants to work with YWiC to help mentor women in computer science and be a role model for them.

“I’m hoping through my story, because I have a different story, that they understand if you’re younger or older, it doesn’t matter ¬ anybody can do it,” Garcia said. “You can go to school any point in your life because no matter what, that time is going to pass whether your in school, whether you’re having kids or whatever. So if the time’s going to pass anyway, you can get your degree – it doesn’t matter if you’re 30, 40, 60, 80 years old. Do it whenever you get the chance. Just don’t lose your inspiration.”

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU signs agreement with Sandia National Laboratories; Creates educational, research opportunities

With the signing of a memorandum of understanding, New Mexico State University and Sandia National Laboratories have established a partnership to develop learning opportunities and coordinate education and research for the next decade.

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu and Sandia National Laboratories Associate Labs Director and Chief Research Officer Susan Seestrom signed the agreement April 10 in Albuquerque.

“I am happy for our two organizations to embark on a new era of cooperation and strategic partnerships,” Arvizu said. “This is an opportunity for us to work together to demonstrate that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. It is a very important concept for both academia and the research ability of our country’s national labs in general.”

Seestrom added Sandia’s collaboration with NMSU allows for more research to be conducted, which helps the government.

“It illustrates our commitment to partnership. I think this is going to continue to foster the kind of research that we are doing at Sandia Labs to ensure global peace and to help make New Mexico a stronger state,” she said.

This partnership is expected to allow for the sharing of specialized and unique research facilities and equipment. Inter-institutional collaborative arrangements of faculty, staff and students will include Sandia staff teaching and directing graduate students, while NMSU will offer professional development and job-related continuing education.

Additionally, this partnership will allow NMSU and Sandia to pursue opportunities of mutual interest in the areas of national security and the nation’s critical infrastructures such as water research, cyber security and sustainability.

Author: Tiffany Acosta, – NMSU

NMSU to host ‘Two Nations One Water’ Summit

As water scarcity is a critical issue for New Mexico, Texas and Mexico, the annual ‘Two Nations One Water’ U.S.-Mexico Border Water Summit 2019 is set address this challenge and more.

The summit is scheduled for April 23 through the 25th at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute at New Mexico State University will host the conference, which is in its second year.

“The Two Nations One Water conference provides a platform for a broad audience to explore adaptive water strategies for managing drought in the border region,” said Pei Xu, NMSU civil engineering associate professor.

“The conference will address the complex interrelationships among water, agriculture, energy, the economy and socio-political realities. It provides an opportunity for managers, policy makers, government and non-governmental agencies, researchers, students, farmers, ranchers, producers and other stakeholders to participate in learning, sharing and networking. Participants from the U.S. and Mexico will present and share their experiences on water issues along the U.S.-Mexico border.”

“We are experiencing drastically reduced surface water supplies, declining groundwater quality and quantity, and cumulative effects of more than a decade of drought conditions,” Xu said. “Climate science indicates our region will have a permanent shift to a more arid climate. Water scarcity has affected communities, industry, local farmers and ranchers because they rely on conventional fresh water supplies. Improving the resiliency of water supply in an increasingly arid climate is a key challenge for water planners and managers.”

The conference begins April 23 with a field trip to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The first full-day of the event, April 24, will begin with welcome speech from Ed Archuleta, director of Water Initiatives for the University of Texas at El Paso, and opening remarks from U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Along with presentations, panel discussions and a student poster session, Mike Hightower from the University of New Mexico and New Mexico Desalination Association will present the keynote address, One Province/One Water.

The conference concludes April 25 with presentations, panel discussions and breakout group discussions. Jayne Harkins from the International Boundary and Water Commission will give the keynote address, Water Management Along the U.S.-Mexico Border.

“I am very happy to work with colleagues at NM WRRI, NMSU, UTEP and Texas A&M to organize this important conference,” Xu said. “We have also received great support and sponsorship from water utilities, industry and government agencies.”

General admission is $50 per person, $100 per person the day of the event and students are $10, which includes two continental breakfasts and two luncheons. The field trip to the desalination research facility is $25 per person and students are no charge.

For the full agenda or to register for the event visit the summit’s website.

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU alumnus’ artwork to hang in UCLA School of Dentistry

’15 Visions,’ a collection of paintings from Las Cruces artist and New Mexico State University alumnus George Mendoza, will now grace the halls of the University of Los Angeles’ School of Dentistry.

The collection features 15 unique pieces spanning over two decades of Mendoza’s artistic career. But the number 15 also serves a dual purpose for Mendoza, as it marks the age that he began losing his eyesight to juvenile macular degeneration.

Mendoza’s condition has eroded away most of his central vision, leaving him with what he describes as ‘kaleidoscope eyes.’ But it’s through this lens that Mendoza, who graduated from the individualized studies program at NMSU in 1978, is allowed to create his unique works.

“I’m what they would consider an “abstract artist,” said Mendoza. “Mostly because of my partial blindness, I’m not able to paint in much detail. So my art itself becomes very abstract, very colorful, and ‘whimsical,’ as it has been described.”

The art featured in the collection was narrowed down from a previous exhibit, ’26 Visions,’ which was put on display in September 2018 at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City. It was this display that caught the attention of UCLA’s School of Dentistry, which requested a similar selection of work to be displayed on their first and third floors.

To celebrate the installment of this new collection, a reception in Mendoza’s honor will take place at the UCLA School of Dentistry on Monday, April 9.

In addition to his contributions to the art world, Mendoza is a championship runner, having competed twice in the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes Olympics. He has also written multiple books, and served as an illustrator for the children’s book ‘Colors of the Wind,’ which tells the story of how he thrived as an athlete and artist during the onset of his condition.

“At this stage – I’ve done it all,” said Mendoza. “I’ve been in two world Olympics, written two books, had two movies based on me, my idea is to share my life story to give hope, especially to those blind people who think they can’t do anything. This collection serves as both a thing of beauty and potential source of inspiration at the same time, and that’s kind of my goal right now as an artist.”

Two of Mendoza’s previous pieces, ‘Desert Splash’ and ‘When We Dance,’ are currently on display on the second floor of Domenici Hall at the NMSU campus.

Author: Matthew Legarreta – NMSU

NMSU hosts Native American legal expert’s talk on rights of indigenous peoples

The Department of Government at New Mexico State University will host a leading expert in Native American law who will give a lecture on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in early April.

The lecture, titled “Why do we even need a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?” will be held on Wednesday, April 3 at Hardman and Jacobs Undergraduate Learning Center, Room 125. The talk is free, open to the public and starts at at 7 p.m.

“NMSU has a number of students with a strong interest in pursuing law-related careers,” said Neil Harvey, professor and head of the Department of Government. “Robert A. Williams, Jr. is a leading scholar in the area of law and policy affecting indigenous peoples. We are fortunate to have him on campus to share his knowledge and interact with our students.”

As part of a full day of events, Williams, who is a member of the Lumbee Indian Tribe and a Regents professor of law and E. Thomas Sullivan Professor of Law and faculty co-chair of the Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy Program at the University of Arizona, will engage with students in government classes, have lunch with Native American students and meet with NMSU’s Model UN Team members in the afternoon before the evening’s community event.

“Exploring the legal history and major political developments leading to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007, professor Williams draws on the tools of critical race practice and Native storytelling traditions to explain the forces, inspiration and urgency behind the global contemporary indigenous human rights movement of the 21st century,” Harvey said.

Williams is known for his book titled ‘Savage Anxieties’, which proposes a wide-ranging re-examination of the history of the Western world told from the perspective of civilization’s war on tribalism as a way of life. He is the author of the classic work on Indian rights under U.S. law, “The American Indian in Western Legal Thought,” which won the Gustavus Meyer human rights award. He is also known for his work defending tribal groups before the United Nations and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Co-sponsors of the public lecture along with the Department of Government are the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Anthropology, NMSU’s American Indian Program and the Conroy Honors College.

For more information, please contact Patricia Vargas at 575-646-4936 or

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU experts to speak at Pecan Conference March 3-5

The 53rd annual pecan conference and trade show hosted by the Western Pecan Growers Association and New Mexico State University is scheduled for March 3-5 in Las Cruces.

An update on the western pecan weevil insect, how to estimate pecan water usage using local weather data and a discussion on the pecan marketing efforts will be among the presentations at this year’s conference.

“The conference is a really valuable opportunity for pecan farmers in the West to network and visit with other pecan farmers who are facing the same or maybe different management issues in their orchards,” said Richard Heerema, NMSU’s pecan specialist. “It’s also a great way to meet with and get to know Extension specialists, researchers and other experts in the field you can go to with your pecan production questions.”

Registration starts at noon Sunday, March 3, and is followed by the equipment and trade show with vendors both inside and outside the hotel and a welcome reception.

The educational programs will be Monday and Tuesday and will include 13 presentations by experts from NMSU, the University of Arizona, Texas A&M University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, The Redding Firm, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, the American Pecan Council and the U.S. Pecan Growers Council.

“We try to make the topics as diverse as possible for the current times,” Heerema said. “Extension Meteorologist Paul Brown from the University of Arizona is going to talk about using weather to determine how much water is needed and when it’s needed in a pecan orchard. Research Entomologist Ted Cottrell from the USDA will give a presentation about using plant bioregulators to manage black pecan aphids. He’s discovered that there are plant growth regulators that prevent black pecan aphids from doing damage that they normally do in orchards.”

Brad Lewis of the NMDA will give an update on the western pecan weevil, which is severely impacting southeastern states like Florida.

“West Texas and New Mexico have not been infected and they would like to stay weevil-free if they can, so they are very concerned,” said John M. White, director of the Western Pecan Growers Association. “If New Mexico did fall to the weevils that would cause a lot of problems with people selling their pecans out of the state. A lot of work is being done in the counties that do have weevils. You’re looking at several years of treatment to keep it out.””

A baking contest will be from 9 a.m.-noon the first day of the conference. There is no cost to enter and prize money will be awarded for different categories.

For full information on the baking contest and a copy of the conference’s agenda, visit the website. The last day to register online is Wednesday, Feb. 27. After the deadline, registration will resume at the conference with a $50 increase.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU

Films, stars, workshops, more at NMSU’s fourth International Film Festival

Films at this year’s Las Cruces International Film Festival will explore issues such as social justice, immigration, space exploration and the human condition.

The 2019 film festival presented by New Mexico State University and Visit Las Cruces runs Feb. 19-24 and offers the region the opportunity to screen more than 90 films – features, documentaries, short subjects, animation and foreign language films in all genres – in less than six days.

Each year, the festival honors well-known industry professionals, many of which participate in question and answer sessions after some of the films, as well as workshops and panel discussions throughout the week.

Special celebrity screenings this year include ‘The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez’ starring Edward James Olmos, ‘River Runs Red’ starring George Lopez, Taye Diggs and John Cusack and ‘Spare Parts’ starring George Lopez.

‘The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez’ kicks off the festival at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 at the Rio Grande Theatre and will feature the presentation of the Mark Medoff Humanitarian Award to Olmos following the film. Robert M. Young, age 94, an award-winning independent filmmaker, producer and director also will receive the LCIFF Auteur Award at the event.

‘River Runs Red,’ directed by Wes Miller, will screen at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Allen Theatres Cineport 10. The action-packed battle for revenge follows two grieving fathers, a judge, and two dirty cops. Miller and several of the actors, including Lopez and the producers, will field questions from the audience after the film.

‘Spare Parts,’starring George Lopez, begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 at Allen Theatres Cineport 10. The film is based on the true story of four Hispanic high school students who form a robotics club and go up against the country’s reigning robotics champion MIT. After the film, Lopez will be honored with the LCIFF Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Award.

Special screenings also include ‘Chi Town’ and the documentary ‘The Wall.’

‘Chi Town’ follows Keifer Sykes on his meteoric rise from Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side to his improbable shot at the NBA. Former NMSU basketball player, Shawn Harrington, was coaching Keifer at his own high school alma mater years after appearing in the iconic basketball documentary Hoop Dreams, when he was shot and paralyzed in a case of mistaken identity. ‘Chi Town’ screens at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at Allen Theatres Cineport 10. After the film, director Nick Budabin, Harrington, and Rus Bradburd, former NMSU assistant coach and current English professor, will take questions from the audience.

USA Today’s Pulitzer Prize winning documentary ‘The Wall’ features rare footage from some of the most remote reaches of the U.S. – from the canyons of Texas’ Big Bend National Park to the Southern Arizona desert as Border Patrol agents recover bodies from the desert.’The Wall’ screens at 12:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at Allen Theatres Cineport 10. After the screening, a panel of contributing USA Today journalists will have a question and answer session with the audience.

Tickets to special celebrity screenings are $30. Tickets are $25 for a one-day pass to the festival. The VIP All Access ticket to all events and celebrity screenings is $150. Individual movie tickets are available separately. Tickets and information are available at online or by calling 575-646-6149.

LCIFF Panels and Workshops will include:

Feb. 21
Representation in Film Panel 1:30-3 p.m.
From Film Student to Filmmaker Panel 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Feb. 22
Screen Writing Panel 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m.
New Mexico Film Rebate: Rules and Regulations 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Foley Demonstration – Reproduction of everyday sound effects 2-4 p.m.
Workshop: Auditioning for Film and Television 4:30 or 5-6:30 p.m.

Feb 23
Stage Reading with Bill True – Actual table reading for a TV pilot at the Rio Grande Theatre, followed by a question and answer session. 10-11:30 a.m.
Editing Panel – Successful film editors share their secrets 12-2 p.m.
Making it Work in Hollywood Celebrity Panel 2-3:30 p.m. in Rio Grande Theatre
Beverly D’Angelo, “National Lampoon’s Vacation” movies, Zoe Perry “Young Sheldon,” Don Foster, “The Big Bang Theory,” and Mary T. Quigley, producer, costume designer “The Big Bang Theory.”

All panels and workshops will be at the Allen Theatres Cineport 10 except the Stage Reading and Making it Work in Hollywood Celebrity Panel, which will be at the Rio Grande Theatre.

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU TRIO Upward Bound programs receive STEM grants

All three TRIO Upward Bound programs at New Mexico State University have received supplementary awards from the U.S. Department of Education for approximately $120,000 for STEM programming.

NMSU’s Las Cruces Public Schools/Gadsden Independent School District, Alamogordo Public Schools and Hatch Valley Public Schools TRIO Upward Bound programs each received approximately $40,000 to include additional science, technology, engineering and mathematics components into the program’s curriculum.

Upward Bound is a federally funded TRIO program, which is comprised of eight programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their precollege performance and in their higher education pursuits.

Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, and high school students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rate at which participants complete secondary education and enroll in and graduate from institutions of postsecondary education.

The Las Cruces/Gadsden program serves 90 students from five target high schools (Las Cruces, Mayfield, Oñate, Gadsden and Santa Teresa), while 60 students are supported at both Hatch Valley and Alamogordo.

“STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy and enables the next generation of innovators,” said Rosa De La Torre-Burmeister, TRIO Upward Bound program director. “STEM is the future, and as educators it is our responsibility to prepare the leaders of tomorrow to have the knowledge, skills and abilities by providing curriculum that allows for STEM computational thinking and project-based learning. This award is allowing each one of the programs to expand our collaborations and partnerships outside of the classroom.”

The Las Cruces/Gadsden TRIO Upward Bound program in collaboration with NMSU’s College of Business and Department of Accounting and Information Systems Assistant Professor Rajaa Shindi will begin including STEM projects in its Saturday sessions this spring semester, which prepares the students for the summer sessions.

Phase one of the collaboration will prepare the students to develop projects while applying STEM methods to a community service donation project in conjunction with TRIO day February 23.

Phase two of the collaboration allows students to explore the integration of computational thinking for structuring and processing their learning through extraordinary experiences in STEM. At the end of the summer, students will deliver their projects as a scientific research and business proposal.

“This isn’t about just knowing the material in a given STEM domain; it’s also about the breadth of a student’s education,” Shindi said. “We all hear it. Computational thinking, problem solving and critical thinking are vital 21st-century skills. At the college level, we need to be aligned with what’s happening in technology, where so many aspects of professions are rapidly changing and improving. Our students will need to be adaptive in order to succeed.”

The STEM initiatives at Hatch Valley have included students creating a digital portfolio, learning how to code using Java and developing digital media projects during the academic year, according to Lourdes Ambriz, TRIO Upward Bound program director for Hatch Valley.

In the summer, she hopes to include STEM projects such as a cybersecurity camp at New Mexico Tech, STEM camp at NMSU’s Las Cruces campus and a partnership with the Bureau of Land Management.

At Alamogordo’s TRIO Upward Bound program, students are taking a computer science course during the Saturday sessions with a focus on Java programming using Alice, an innovative programming environment that makes it easy to create animation for telling a story. The course is designed to be a student’s first exposure to object-oriented programming.

During the academic year, other STEM activities include participation in the Challenger Learning Center of Las Cruces’ Lunar Quest Mission, learning about the science behind laser tag systems and hands-on experiments involving the physics of flight with wind tunnels, according to Toni Dixon, TRIO Upward Bound program director for Alamogordo.

Along with summer STEM camps, Dixon hopes to expose students to professional careers through work-study partnerships with STEM-related industries.

For more information on the NMSU Upward Bound Program visit

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU’s New Mexico Chile Conference set for February 4-5

New Mexico State University officials say that registration is now open for the world’s largest conference dedicated to chile peppers.

The 2019 New Mexico Chile Conference hosted by New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute runs from February 4-5 at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces.

This year’s conference will include experts who will speak on various topics including: developing and improving the New Mexico chile industry’s sustainable competitive advantage, organic management practices in chile peppers, updates on the New Mexico Chile Certification Program and panel discussion research update on green chile de-stemming.

The conference will also feature booths from companies that can assist New Mexico chile pepper growers to sustain excellence and encourage profitable yields. Some of these companies include J&J Supply, Western Blend Fertilizer, New Mexico Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit of New Mexico.

“Part of the overwhelming success of the conference can be attributed to the networking opportunities where attendees can speak to and collaborate with the leading individuals in the chile pepper industry and research,” said Paul Bosland co-founder and director of the Chile Pepper Institute. “This year’s conference agenda offers attendees many informational and educational opportunities, ranging from organic growing to New Mexico’s chile pepper certification program.”

In addition, there will be presentations on “Increasing Water Use Efficiency to Meet Future Chile Pepper Production” by Blair Stringam, and Travis Hubbs with the USDA Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act will speak about promoting fair trade of New Mexico chile peppers.

A highlight each year is the student research poster competition. Students are encouraged to present their research findings to the public. Judges are recruited and posters awarded according to a specific criteria. The top student poster receives a travel money award to a professional research conference of their choice.

Conference registration for individuals is $150 and walk-in registration booths will be $500. For more information on the conference, contact the Chile Pepper Institute at 575-646-3028 or register online.

Author: Melissa R. Rutter – NMSU

Scooter Rental Service to Launch at NMSU

The New Mexico State University community and visitors will have a new transportation option for navigating campus with the launch of an electronic, dock-less scooter sharing rental company.

“I think this could be a real game changer for NMSU,” said Emerson Morrow, ASNMSU president. “We need something to aid transportation and mobility, and I think this is definitely going to meet that need.”

The Associated Students of NMSU spearheaded the effort to partner with Spin. A 60-day trial begins on campus Friday, January 18.

Owned by the Ford Motor Company, Spin’s launch will include 100 scooters that will be collected daily at 7 p.m. and replaced at 7 a.m.

Riders must use the Spin app to rent the scooters, and the cost is $1 per ride plus $0.15 per minute.

Daily scooter setup locations will include Corbett Center, residence halls and the Horseshoe. Riders can find scooter locations on the app. Riders should be aware of traffic laws and safety regulations.

After the 60-day trial, the program will be evaluated, so NMSU is encouraging university community members to provide feedback via email at

According to Morrow, students were excited about a scooter-sharing program on campus, and he is eager for the launch.

“I’m so pumped,” he said. “When I floated the possibility it was an immediate no, we just can’t do that. Spin is a company that has effectively answered every question that has come up.”

The Spin app is available for download through Apple’s App Store or Google Play.

Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU

NMSU’s Military Family Communication Project Seeks Participants

The New Mexico State University Military Family Communication Project spanning the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business was formed in 2013.

The project is currently focused on post deployment reintegration and aims to develop programs to support military family members trying to reconnect with each other and their communities.

The project is seeking non-active duty veterans and their families who were present before and after deployment to participate in three family sessions to talk about their experiences with deployment and the return of a family member.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of NMSU’s Military Family Communication Research team for over five years,” said Communication

Studies Professor Jeanne Flora. “We are a team of faculty and staff from across the university who joined together with the common goal of learning about and supporting military families who are reintegrating post-deployment.”

The research focuses on developing practical intervention skills that veterans and families can use to reconnect and improve family communication and health.

“Our research has truly been guided by families themselves, who have stressed to us the impact that deployment has on the whole family and the value of supportive, understanding relationships,” said Flora.

Participants will receive $100 for joining the study. For more information on the project contact Tim Ketelaar at 575- 646-1833 or

Members of New Mexico State University’s Military Family Study team (left to right) Danielle Haliwell, communication studies assistant professor, Jeanne Flora, communication studies professor, Kenneth Hacker, communication studies professor, Marquette Gass, anthropology graduate researcher, Tim Ketelaar, psychology associate professor, and Mikela Ferguson, graduate student, are in search of participants for a military-based research study. (Courtesy NMSU)

Author: Faith Schifani – NMSU

Drug Discovered by Scientists of NMSU, UNM CancerCenter Could Lead to New Treatments

Fifteen years after a chance meeting started their partnership, a compound Jeffrey Arterburn, and Eric Prossnitz discovered may lead to new skin cancer treatments.

Arterburn, a Regents professor in chemistry and biochemistry at New Mexico State University, and Prossnitz, a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at The University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, met after a regional scientific conference in 2003.  Arterburn told Prossnitz about some compounds he had developed that might help Prossnitz’s research. The two quickly realized that their work dovetailed nicely.

Arterburn, a medicinal chemist, had derived compounds from estrogen that Prossnitz could further modify to make fluorescent. The molecules lit up under a microscope, allowing scientists to see where their receptors were displayed on cells. Arterburn could further change the compounds’ properties by adding or removing atoms from their molecules.

Prossnitz, a molecular biologist, was studying breast cancer cells and their receptors. He was particularly interested in why some women who initially respond to breast cancer drugs later develop resistance to them, allowing the cancer to recur. When it does, it usually recurs more aggressively.

Prossnitz’s lab had discovered a receptor called GPER on the surface of breast cancer cells, which, when triggered by estrogen, increased the cells” cancerous behavior. Prossnitz was looking for a method to control how GPER responded; Arterburn’s compounds would help him see how the receptor interacted with estrogen.

So, with a pilot grant from the Cowboys for Cancer Research Foundation, the two began working together. Arterburn would create compounds in his lab and send them to Prossnitz for testing. The pilot funding would eventually lead to more than $8 million in research support, but those initial dollars meant a lot. “Those were personal donations,” Arterburn says. “People have lost [loved ones] or been affected by cancer.”

The pilot funds paid for the specialized substances and personnel they needed to carry out their first experiments. “Every nickel of that money goes right into supporting research,” Arterburn says.

Using Arterburn’s molecules, Prossnitz discovered that GPER responded to breast cancer drugs that shut down the estrogen receptor in the nucleus of ER-positive breast cancer cells. He showed that some of these same drugs also activated survival and growth signals in cells through GPER, an action not known when these drugs were developed. It may explain why some women develop resistance, he says.

Prossnitz and Arterburn worked with Larry Sklar, who leads UNM’s Center for Molecular Discovery, to find two molecules that greatly affected how GPER responds. One, called an agonist, activates the receptor. The other, called an antagonist, shuts it down.

To find the first compound, they screened a collection of 10,000 molecules. But to save time and effort, they enlisted help from UNM colleagues Tudor Oprea, and Cristian Bologa, who applied computational biology techniques to narrow down the search. “Instead of physically testing 10,000 compounds, we physically tested the top 100,” Prossnitz says. “They cut our work down a hundred-fold.”

Prossnitz, Arterburn and their colleagues obtained a patent for the compounds in 2011. Then, in 2017, a start-up company called Linnaeus contacted UNM.STC, a non-profit that oversees the transfer of UNM-developed technology. Linnaeus wanted to license the agonist for use in combination with immune therapy for melanoma.

Melanoma, like breast and some other cancers, was shown to respond to estrogen. Linnaeus’ founders’ initial studies suggested that the combination of the GPER agonist and immunotherapy might help the body destroy melanoma more effectively.

Linnaeus is currently carrying out pre-clinical studies. If they go well, Linnaeus will begin human trials at a few sites around the country, led by the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“This could be the first example of UNM basic research in cancer that goes from initial drug discovery and cell biology to clinical trials,” Prossnitz says. “It’s always a long shot.” But he and Arterburn hope it one day could change cancer treatment.


Editor’s Note: Eric Prossnitz, PhD, is a professor in UNM’s Department of Internal Medicine, and chief of the Division of Molecular Medicine. He directs the Cancer Biology and Signaling research program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Jeffrey Arterburn, PhD, is a Regents’ professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the New Mexico State University. He served as director of the New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence, NM-INBRE, from 2001-2016. He is also a member of the Cancer Therapeutics program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Larry Sklar, PhD, is professor in the UNM Department of Pathology. He serves as director of the UNM Center for Molecular Discovery and leads the Cancer Therapeutics program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Tudor Oprea, MD, PhD, is a professor in the UNM Department of Internal Medicine, and serves as chief of the Division of Translational Informatics. He is a member of the Cancer Therapeutics program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Cristian Bologa, PhD, is a research professor in the UNM Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Translational Informatics, and a member of the Cancer Therapeutics program at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Author: Michele Sequeira – NMSU

NMSU College of Education Selects New Stan Fulton Chair, J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professor

Two associate professors with New Mexico State University’s College of Education have each been selected to positions that will help serve the educational needs of the region.

Blanca Araujo, director of the Office for Teacher Candidate Preparation, has been named the Stan Fulton Chair in Education for the Improvement of Border and Rural Schools, and Michelle Salazar Pérez, associate professor of Early Childhood Education, is the recipient of the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship in Education. Araujo succeeds Azadeh Osanloo, while Pérez succeeds Betsy Cahill.

Osanloo and Cahill are co-directors of the NMSU School of Teacher Preparation, Administration and Leadership, which is housed in the College of Education.

The Stan Fulton Chair was established in 2005 to enhance communication among NMSU faculty, staff and students and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade constituents to improve border and rural schools. The chair works to expand, improve and coordinate existing outreach programs and research activities, and is funded in part by an endowed gift from Stan Fulton, a benefactor to the university and owner of Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino who died in January 2018.

Araujo co-authored the book, “Educating Across Borders: The Case of a Dual Language Program on the U.S.-Mexico Border,” based on research of border-crossing students attending school in El Paso and their experiences learning from a dual-language curriculum. Araujo also has experience working with rural and border communities, including time spent as a student and later a teacher in the Gadsden Independent School District.

“I feel very privileged and proud to be the Stan Fulton Chair,” said Araujo, who has been at NMSU for seven years. “I know the Fulton family has always supported Gadsden, and it means a lot to continue that work, especially being from the border and a rural school.”

Araujo said she plans to continue her work in bilingual and teacher education and studying binational students. Araujo will also take over for Osanloo in helping organize a youth summer camp with the Las Cruces Police Department.

The professorship was established in 2004 by family and friends of J. Paul Taylor, a retired state representative who received three degrees from NMSU. Taylor has been a lifelong advocate for PreK-12 education, most notably early childhood and bilingual education.

Pérez, who is in her sixth year at NMSU, will help organize the 27th International Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education Conference, which will take place at NMSU next fall. The conference will host attendees from across the globe, including New Zealand, Kenya, Norway and Denmark, along with the U.S. and Mexico.

“I feel very honored to be able to continue advocacy of early childhood education in the state of New Mexico, nationally and internationally,” Pérez said. “I also feel honored that I get to follow in Dr. Cahill’s footsteps because she’s done so much for border communities and the state.”

Pérez said she plans to use some of the funds she receives as part of the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professorship to support research on children’s views of current events and how they affect their lives, and to help support graduate students conducting research on early childhood education topics that will help serve surrounding border communities.

Cahill and Osanloo said they were both pleased with the selection of Araujo and Pérez by the search committee responsible for choosing the Stan Fulton Chair and the J. Paul Taylor Endowed Professor.

“These women are committed to serving the educational institutions and communities of the State of New Mexico,” Osanloo said. “We are confident that they will continue to honor the legacy of both Stan Fulton and Rep. J. Paul Taylor.”

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU, Costa Rican Institute Explore Academic Program Collaboration

Hugo Navarro Serrano knows the impact of studying abroad in the development of a person’s career. The Costa Rica native earned his master’s degree in civil engineering at New Mexico State University in 1993.

Now as the director of the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, he is working with NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences to create opportunities for both universities’ Extension education students.

The quest for a partnership began when College of ACES Dean Rolando A. Flores and members of the college leadership team visited Costa Rica in February after an invitation of the Costa Rican Minister of Education, Sonia M. Mora.

“We made an exploratory trip to a number of different universities,”  said Jon Boren, assistant dean and director of NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service. “We visited with Extension colleagues about both of our Extension programs.”

Two goals arose from the trip – a reciprocal visit by an Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica leadership team to New Mexico and an interest in exploring possibilities of a student exchange program focusing on Extension education with hopes of a future dual degree program.

“Our visit created a great opportunity for them to bring some of their professors and students in Extension programs to New Mexico to see how we develop, deliver and evaluate Extension programs,” Boren said.

The first week of December, Serrano and a group of directors, faculty and students visited NMSU in Las Cruces and traveled north along the Rio Grande corridor to learn about New Mexico’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Diego Camacho, general coordinator of Extension at the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, has been working to make changes in the

Members of the Institute of Technical Education Extension program visit New Mexico State University’s Santa Fe County Cooperative Extension Office. (NMSU Photo by Jane Moorman)

Costa Rican Extension program.

“Many things that we have been thinking about are things that NMSU already has done here for years,” Camacho said. “When we see NMSU’s programs, we know it is important to make changes to include these things.”

During the visit, the leadership teams for both colleges discussed the possibility of developing a dual master’s degree program in Extension education.

“Most of our Extension people are engineers, who are working in their discipline, but they don’t have a formal education in Extension,” said Carmen Madriz, director of graduate studies at the Institute of Technical Education.

After reviewing NMSU’s Extension education program, Madriz said her colleagues saw an opportunity to work with NMSU to have a dual degree.

The first step to that goal is an exchange program where Costa Rican students will attend NMSU’s Extension 101 class and NMSU students will participate in internships.

“From this visit we have signed an agreement that we are going to start with Extension 101 as the first official activity,” Serrano said.

“Our Cooperative Extension Service programs are well known in New Mexico and in other states in the country,” said Dean Rolando A. Flores. “This year we have made great strides in sharing our successes with colleagues in Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico and India. International collaboration is a two-way street, they learn and we learn too. We are very hopeful of the opportunities that can result from collaborating with them.”

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU

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