Christine Eber spent the last 35 years opening her mind to the suffering of people of Chiapas, Mexico, first as a volunteer, then as a graduate student and finally as an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University.
Now a retired professor emerita, she continues the work today.
After spending decades writing scholarly works about the Tsotsil-Maya people of Chiapas, Eber, wrote her first novel about their struggles and their faith titled ‘When A Woman Rises.’
“I believe that my novel is more likely to lead people to want to visit Chiapas than my academic books or articles ever did,” Eber said. “And I really do want people to go to Chiapas, to make friends there, perhaps to get involved in some kind of project or at least go back home inspired to do something to make the world a more egalitarian and just place.”
The novel, published by Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, will have a book launch from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, September 28 at Casa Camino Real Book Store in Las Cruces.
In the forward to Eber’s book, author Diane Rus describes Eber as practicing love in the Mayan sense of the word as described by a character in the book – listening deeply, not giving up on each other, helping each other, respecting each other and feeling each other’s pain.
“It was clear to me that there were things I couldn’t say in my ethnographic writings and the novel was an effort to help push myself to understand their lives better and help others understand the Maya people better,” Eber said. “The novel really liberated me to say a lot of things I wanted to say in my writing in an engaging way.”
In the novel, Magdalena from Chenalhó, Chiapas tells the story of her daughter’s best friend Lucia who has been missing for ten years. Magdalena recounts the girls’ dreams of becoming teachers.
They both join the Zapatista movement, supporting democracy, land reform and the rights of indigenous people. The women’s stories
reveal how culture, poverty and rigid gender roles impact their lives.
“My novel shows how Maya people live in different conditions from those of most readers but aren’t necessarily any less intelligent or capable of taking leadership roles or anything else,” Eber said. “They just haven’t had the opportunities.”
Eber is a founder of the nonprofit ‘Weaving for Justice,’ a volunteer group in Las Cruces helping three Maya women’s cooperatives. “We’re involved in trying to find fair trade markets in the U.S. and to help raise funds for scholarships for Maya youth to go on to high school, college and post graduate studies.”
New Mexico State University has been awarded a $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to prepare students for careers in computing and provide scholarships for academically talented community college students in the computer science field who need financial help.
NMSU is the lead institution in partnership with New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and four community colleges to fund NSF Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) program.
Huiping Cao, NMSU associate professor of computer science is the principal investigator for the project and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Enrico Pontelli, Dongwan Shin, associate professor and department chair of computer science at New Mexico Tech, and Sara Hug, a research associate with the Alliance for Technology, are co-principal investigators.
“The goal of the grant is to help the students not just with financial support but develop professional skills, particularly in the area of cyber security,” Pontelli said. “This is one of the most competitive and fastest growing fields in the area of computer science.”
NMSU has partnered with Doña Ana Community College, the NMSU Alamogordo campus, and the NMSU Grants campus, while Tech has partnered with Eastern New Mexico University’s campus in Ruidoso.
“An important aspect of this grant is to help students transition from community college to a four-year program,” Pontelli said. “So a lot of the scholarships are reserved for community college students with the understanding that, after one year in community college, they will transfer to a four-year program at either the NMSU main campus or the Tech main campus.”
Pontelli said he hopes the grant will make the students who apply for the scholarships more competitive in the job market.
“There will be a rubric by which the applicants will be scored and the top students will be selected to receive scholarships,” Pontelli said.
Students who are either heading into a community college program or who are heading for a four-year program are welcome to apply.
The grant is for five years and success will be based on how many scholarship recipients have completed their computer-science degrees and are entering the workforce in a related field.
Pontelli said he expects to award around 22 scholarships a year for three cohorts of students.
“So it’s not just a one-time thing,” Pontelli said. “Once they are selected, they won’t have to worry about getting a job while they work on their degrees.”
Pontelli said he hopes the results of the five-year grant will give evidence that the program works, encouraging companies in the computer science industry to fund more scholarships for computer science students and that other industries will do the same for students in different fields.
“I see this as creating an infrastructure that will grow over time once it is proven,” Pontelli said. “The good thing is NMSU has been investing a lot of effort in the area of cyber security, we have a lot of initiatives in place. A degree program in cyber security is going through the approval process now, which means people see the value of this degree program.”
Pontelli sees the NSF award as a major step in positioning NMSU as a leader in the state in the area of cyber security training and research.
“We have a track record of success and we have good people, Pontelli said. “All these initiatives together demonstrate that the NSF believes in NMSU, that this is an institution where we can make these initiatives successful.”
New Mexico State University has been recognized as a top tier university for the sixth time in the last seven years according to the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges for 2019 National Universities rankings.
“This recognition reflects NMSU’s continued status as one of the best universities in the country,” said NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu. “Our focus on the top-level priorities of improving student success, elevating research and creativity and amplifying our outreach and economic development will help us improve our scores well into the future.”
This year, NMSU is tied for 221 with University of Texas-Arlington, California State University-Fullerton, Dallas Baptist University and Benedictine University (Illinois).
Additionally, NMSU ranks tied for 126 in top public schools, tied for 132 in undergraduate engineering programs and tied for 199 in undergraduate business programs.
The methodology for the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings was modified this year and are based on outcomes (35 percent), faculty resources (20 percent), expert opinion (20 percent), financial resources (10 percent), student excellence (10 percent) and alumni giving (5 percent).
For a complete list of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, along with the methodology, please visit www.usnews.com/colleges.
Nearly a year to the day Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, devastating the U.S. commonwealth and its people, a New Mexico State University assistant professor shared some of the preliminary findings of her study on the mental health of aid workers who are still working to help residents.
Ivelisse Torres Fernandez, an assistant professor in the Counseling and Educational Psychology department at New Mexico State University’s College of Education, is a native of Puerto Rico. Shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico,
Torres Fernandez began fundraising efforts to help Puerto Ricans in need of food, water, batteries and other goods. She also began a yearlong study in March focusing on the mental health of those who not only provided aid to storm victims, but who were also victims of Hurricane Maria.
“I started to collect data and it was hard to do, because there was not going to be a perfect time to do it. The emotions are still raw,” Torres Fernandez said. “The emotional wounds this horrible storm left are intense.”
Hurricane Maria was a Category 4 storm when it hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. It is regarded as the worst Atlantic hurricane since 2004, and on August 28 Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study, according to the Associated Press.
Torres Fernandez made her third trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria in July, and said although she is seeing progress, it has been ‘painfully slow.’ So far, Torres Fernandez has completed her first round of interviews, talking to 15 people including first responders, healthcare workers, community leaders and private citizens who have assisted in relief efforts. Out of the 15, 10 have been women. The first group ranged in age from 18 to 71.
Torres Fernandez is planning to conduct a second round of interviews, mainly with mental health professionals.
“I’m asking them what it was like to have been impacted by the storm and having to provide emotional support and psychological help to others. How did they cope,” Torres Fernandez said.
One surprising thing she learned was that in helping others, aid workers healed themselves. By providing support and assistance to those who are still experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation and post-traumautic stress disorder, it has helped them cope and find some relief.
“On a personal level, that’s how I’ve been healing,” said Torres Fernandez. She was not in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria but her family, who still live on the island, experienced the storm and its after-effects. Torres Fernandez said residents are still suffering from anxiety whenever it rains, and anxiety has been heightened during this year’s hurricane season.
Torres Fernandez said that by talking to mental health professionals next, she hopes to take a closer look at whether they are experiencing compassion fatigue and whether they have adopted any self care strategies to help them cope. She also wants to explore other consequences of the hurricane such as health issues that occurred after residents were forced to rely on canned food for survival, and the limited access to quality health care.
In talking to her first group of interviewees, Torres Fernandez found that although aid workers were emotionally impacted by the experience, adopting a positive outlook has helped them through tough, emotional times.
One woman told me, “We are broken, but we are not defeated. We will rise again,” Torres Fernandez said, her eyes welling with tears. “This speaks to the resilience of the people of Puerto Rico. Keeping a positive outlook on life makes a difference.”
Participants also raised concerns about the federal aid response versus the local response. Although participants positively rated the response at the municipal level, the majority of participants believe both the federal and local government didn’t do a good job, Torres Fernandez said.
The concerns about the federal and local response has led residents to distrust federal and local agencies, and to adopt more significant hurricane preparation measures such as storing enough food and water to last two months, and to buy significant amounts of batteries and power generators.
Before starting her research, Torres Fernandez spearheaded donation efforts to collect clothing, food, batteries, school supplies and money to benefit Puerto Rico.
To date, those donations have helped students in three schools and the residents of an assisted living facility, along with several residents in rural areas.
New Mexico State University alumnus and accomplished painter George Mendoza donated 26 pieces to a Manhattan hospital for permanent display.
The Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital will unveil the display, called ’26 Visions,’ on September 17.
The hospital has significance for Mendoza, as it was where he was diagnosed with macular degeneration as a teenager. Mendoza, originally from New York City and who is legally blind, says what vision he has is like “looking through a kaleidoscope.” He uses this interpretation of the world “to create fantastical and colorful images.”
On September 19, Mendoza, also the author of several books, will have a book signing at Blue Stockings Bookstore in New York.
Mendoza also has been working with three students in NMSU’s small business consulting class who are using his visit to get experience pitching for New York media. Tiffany Tudor, Kevin Ramirez and Harrison Groom are reaching out to television stations to encourage news outlets to interview Mendoza while he is in New York.
His first book, ‘Colors of the Wind,’ is a biographical picture book. Mendoza is also a champion runner and competed in the 1980 and ’84 Olympics for the Disabled.
Mendoza lives in Las Cruces because he loves the light here. He is also the author of the ‘Wizards Fight Funny’ trilogy. His books can be found on Amazon. He has another display of paintings, also called “Colors of the Wind,” that is a traveling exhibit for the National Smithsonian Affiliates.
New Mexico State University Professor of Horticulture Christopher Cramer is one of 15 participants in a regional multistate research working group to receive the 2018 Western Region Award of Excellence in multistate research.
The multistate research covered the managing of onion pests and diseases and included the help and research of numerous universities, Cornell University, Texas A&M University and Colorado State University to name a few.
Cramer’s research aimed to identify onion germplasm that could be used to breed onions with resistance to onion thrips. Onion thrips are insects that feed on plant leaves, damaging onion bulbs and spreading disease that could take a toll on onion yield, quality and seed production.
“We evaluated some onion germplasm and selected plants that thrips did not prefer as much as other plants and as a result those plants suffered less damage from thrips,” said Cramer, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. “We also evaluated the same germplasm for damage from a viral disease, iris yellow spot. We identified plants that exhibit fewer disease symptoms than other plants. The virus that causes this disease is spread by thrips.”
Professors from the working group meet on an annual basis to discuss the research they are doing and see how they can coordinate their efforts. Multistate research projects can help to make sure many different issues are being researched at once.
“It is helpful to have multiple research projects happening at once because there might be pest and disease issues that are important here in New Mexico that we might not have time to work on but maybe in another state they are working on it currently, whether it would benefit them to also work on it or not. So, it helps to make progress in research that can be applied in different places,” Cramer said.
By participating in multistate research projects, NMSU has been put on the map as a productive contributor to needed research.
“By being able to contribute what we’re doing to other states and seeing what other states are doing, it’s building a great partnership for future projects,” Cramer said.
After spending two years working on a personal mobility device, a group of New Mexico State University College of Engineering students were rewarded with top honors at the Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education (PACE) Global Annual Forum held in Detroit, at the General Motors Warren Tech Center.
NMSU partnered with international universities, Iberoamericana University and Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey-Toluca from Mexico, Inha University, Kookmin Design Team and Sungkyunkwan University from South Korea and University of Puerto Rico, to win first place in industrial design and second place in the road test competition for their personal urban mobility access device that is marketed to the Baby Boomer population.
“There isn’t a better feeling than hearing your team being announced on stage as the winners,” Patricio Alvarez said. “This year’s PACE conference was extremely competitive and everyone innovated superb designs, so leading up to the awards, anything could happen. We were, however, confident in our design and all the hard work we put in which made our placement only more satisfying.”
Not only did the students design the device, they developed a market and business plan, conducted an ergonomic analysis, designed a manufacturing facility and built a functional prototype. This project is funded by GM, and companies such as Siemens, Oracle, HP and Autodesk also sponsored various activities including mentorship to each team and judging of the PUMA project.
“PACE have provided software, training, certification and industry-related projects to the engineering and design departments at a select group of universities around the world,” said Delia Valles-Rosales, associate professor and faculty adviser. “This type of support to universities like NMSU provides students exposure to and experience with the technical software and systems used by industry as well as helps develop cultural competencies and soft skills that normally students do not get in the regular classroom setting such as self-confidence, self-efficacy and communication skills.”
“One of the most important things about this award is that we as students had the opportunity to prove that NMSU knows how to work as a team, not only among ourselves, but among the other eight universities of the team. Working with people from very different backgrounds/cultures can be challenging, however, we found a way,” Elias Arias said.
NMSU’s team members include Arias, Alvarez, Waleed Aljluwi, Andres Arellano, Marcos Gallegos, Andrea Gonzalez, Abraham Munoz and Keanu Telles. Faculty advisers include Valles-Rosales, Patricia Sullivan, associate dean of recruiting and outreach, Young Ho Park, mechanical and aerospace engineering associate professor, and Edward Pines, industrial engineering department head.
The group was honored at a ceremony held in late July.
As classes get underway at New Mexico State University , five NMSU computer science students ranging from sophomores to seniors are spending the fall semester at Google in San Francisco.
It’s the second year of a pilot program initiated by the tech giant. This year, they selected students from three Hispanic Serving Institutions to take classes at Google for a semester and benefit from the Google culture.
Last year, the company invited students from Howard University, among the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to learn at the Google campus.
“It’s like you’re going to school in the workplace, said Enrico Pontelli, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who negotiated NMSU’s participation in the project. “It’s the best of both worlds merged together. It’s a very interesting design. I haven’t seen it anywhere else. This is a first.”
It’s like a regular semester, Pontelli explained. The students will take courses as they would otherwise but those courses will be attached to a project they are given by Google. They also will have Google mentors and access to professional skills training and interview sessions with other company’s representatives.
Marco Salazar, a sophomore computer science major who is interested in pursuing a career in video game development or artificial intelligence, is looking forward to the experience.
“I expect a rigorous training in the classes that I have signed up for, which is to be expected from an industry leader like Google,” Salazar said. “I understand that many of the projects we will be working on will be team-based the way it normally is in industry. We will have an expert professor teaching us, and a Google employee mentoring us for each of our classes. I expect this to be an invaluable experience that will greatly help me in the future.”
Kay Sweebe, a double major in computer science and mathematics, plans to spend time networking as the group tackles Google projects as part of the program.
“I’m specifically interested the problems we face currently with big data in our society,” Sweebe said. “A couple classes I will be taking at Google are Algorithms and Machine Learning. Both of these classes have implementations within big data to help solve some of the problems we currently face with large data sets.”
Another double major in computer science and mathematics, Vensan Carbardo, a sophomore at NMSU, has lived in New Mexico most of her life and hopes a semester at Google will expand her horizons.
“I hope that, by participating in this program, I can start getting more accustomed to being outside of my comfort zone. I don’t believe that sticking to safe and familiar routines is beneficial for anyone; especially computer scientists, and I expect that this program will help me become more comfortable with approaching problems in new and unfamiliar ways.”
Pontelli says the company is looking to diversify its workforce and find the best employees by reaching out to minority serving institutions. Three of the five NMSU students attending the Google pilot this semester are women. NMSU’s Young Women in Computing program, which has engaged thousands of middle and high school girls in learning computer science over that last 10 years, has created a pipeline of female computer science majors for NMSU.
Pontelli is impressed by the way Google has incorporated the learning experience into their company culture.
“First of all they’re going to be immersed in a learning environment that is much richer because they are going to be with students from different universities with faculty from different universities to teach within Google,” said Pontelli.
“And the students’ connection with Google is going to be developed. It’s going to be a great learning experience. The skills they’re going to get, not just the technical skills, but also the professional skills, the job interviews, the teamwork, understanding the culture. You can get some of that with an internship, but this is better than an internship.”
Jacob Espinoza, a senior computer science major, likes the idea of getting access to learning at Google without the pressure of a regular internship. “Artificial intelligence interests me the most and I think my experience at Google will give me a greater insight as to the developments in the field.
“Google has been one of the leaders in AI over the past few years as evidenced by projects such as their self-driving car program and the Google Assistant. Being at Google, I am sure I will see both the advances and the challenges that face the AI field today.”
Arianna Martinez, a junior computer science major who wants to work at Google or Amazon as a software engineer, is grateful she was among the handful of students selected for the Google pilot. “I expect to gain hands-on experience and knowledge from Google engineers that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I hope to make friends and learn so many new things while I’m there.”
As well as meeting new friends, the students will be connecting with NMSU alumni who already have jobs at Google. Natasha Nesiba, is part of that Google welcoming committee for the NMSU group. She received a scholarship from Google as an undergraduate but turned into a scholarship for another student and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at NMSU.
“We want this to continue and grow. It’s important that the students must have a great experience,” Pontelli said. “But we need to make sure we pay them and we need to figure out how to finance sending the students there and where they will live.”
When the students return after the semester at Google, they will share what they’ve learned with their peers at NMSU next semester. Pontelli is hopeful the program will continue to expand each year and become sustainable in the future.
“The people from Google are good to work with, very collegial, very open,” Pontelli said. “I do trust them, theyre sincere in what they’re trying to do. I think they really want to make a difference.”
In just its second year of operation, the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship, housed at New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center, has made significant strides in strengthening the region’s entrepreneurial pipeline by focusing on the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs, developing exciting new technologies, and forging partnerships that benefit the Borderland.
“We’re so pleased with the progress made through the Hunt Center thus far and look forward to continuing the key initiatives underway, while continuing to seek avenues for expansion,” said Arrowhead Center Director Kathy Hansen.
The Hunt Center was created through a $2.5 million gift provided by the Hunt Family Foundation as part of NMSU’s Ignite Aggie Discovery $125 million comprehensive fundraising campaign.
The funding has helped advance three key programs at Arrowhead Center: the Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships, the Innoventure youth entrepreneurship program for K-12 students, and the LAUNCH technology and business development accelerator and competition.
Hunt Student Startup Sponsorships provide semester-long employment to allow selected student entrepreneurs time to work on their ventures during the academic semesters. Sponsored students receive entrepreneurial training and business development services through Studio G, Arrowhead Center’s student business accelerator program.
“Hunt Sponsorships provide a tremendous opportunity to accelerate student entrepreneurs in our Studio G program,” said Kramer Winingham, director of Studio G. “The program gives students the support and guidance to move their business forward rapidly in just one semester.”
Hunt-sponsored students have focused on a range of products and services, from gyroscope technology to retail fashion to a mobile app helping university students learn to navigate their campuses.
“Thanks to the Hunt Startup Sponsorship, I was able to turn my idea into a minimum viable product,” said Alexis Cornidez, an NMSU senior majoring in individualized studies with a concentration in engineering, economics and management. Cornidez received a sponsorship to work on his business, Maslow, a mobile application that connects college students and supports local economies. “It allowed me to focus not only my time, but my effort toward accomplishing my goals,” he added.
The Innoventure suite of K-12 entrepreneurship education programs from Arrowhead Center has also enjoyed new opportunities through Arrowhead’s relationship with the Hunt Family Foundation, for the first time delivering programming outside of New Mexico.
Camp Innoventure, a week-long camp where middle school students get to brainstorm business ideas, put together a business model and create a product to sell at a local market, partnered with the El Paso-based Success Through Technology Education Foundation to bring sessions to schools in El Paso and Tornillo, Texas.
“We had 22 students participate in three camps across El Paso, which we couldn’t have done without the generous financial support from the STTE Foundation and the Hunt Center,” said Innoventure Deputy Director Lydia Hammond, who leads the Camp Innoventure program. “We’re also extremely grateful to our amazing teachers, who led the program at each location and made these camp experiences even more special for our students.”
LAUNCH, Arrowhead Center’s annual accelerator and competition in which teams take NMSU-developed innovations through an intensive four-month program of technology and market validation, is also reaping the benefits of affiliation with the Hunt Center. With Hunt Center support, both the initial investments in participants’ ventures and the award to the overall winner have been bolstered, allowing teams to push the envelope on the new businesses based on the technologies they explore.
“The Hunt Center sponsorship of LAUNCH has been a game-changer, in terms of the amount of resources we’re able to provide promising teams,” Hansen said. “It also allows our winning team the funds they need to take the next steps after the competition.”
Three of the five finalist teams from the most recent round of LAUNCH are in talks with potential industry partners who may license team technologies or determine other ways to collaborate on development.
This year’s winning team, which is seeking to commercialize a novel liner for prosthetic limbs that increase comfort and safety for wearers, has continued to move forward on their project.
“LAUNCH helped me to break the ice, get out of the building, and talk to people,” said team member Neda Sanatkaran, a post-doctoral researcher in NMSU’s Chemical Engineering Department.
These and other Hunt Center programs are also bolstered by a partnership with the CoWork Oasis, an El Paso-based community workspace that provides local entrepreneurs access to tools, mentorship and funding opportunities. CoWork Oasis stages workshops and events to educate entrepreneurs and provide them opportunities to network with fellow creators and others in the community.
With 85 community members at CoWork, the network is growing and the program’s model is being validated. The CoWork Oasis-Hunt Center collaboration is ensuring that Arrowhead Center programs have a regional reach, as well as bringing to each organization the best assets its respective city has to offer.
“Our commitment to Arrowhead Center demonstrates the critical role we know entrepreneurship plays as an economic driver in the Borderplex region,” said Josh Hunt, president of the Hunt Family Foundation. “We are proud to see our investment hard at work to move initiatives forward in support of programs, innovation and successful partnerships. We applaud the ongoing efforts of the team at the Hunt Center for Entrepreneurship.”
Hansen notes that Arrowhead Center will continue to find new ways to expand existing programs, and to explore others that will help clients continue to advance their entrepreneurial journeys.
“We’re not done yet,” Hansen said. “One of the greatest strengths of the Hunt Center is its ability to leverage collaboration among regional players. We have so many great people and groups working on economic development in the Borderplex, and the Hunt Center is a perfect venue to collaborate on that endeavor.”
The recipe may only call for four ingredients, but brewing beer is a science, and the brewery engineering program at New Mexico State University offers students the opportunity to prepare for careers in the growing industry.
In 2017, 67 New Mexico-based craft breweries, an increase from 25 New Mexico breweries in 2011, produced more than 116,000 barrels of beer last year, which had a $333 million impact on the state’s economy based on data from the Brewers Association.
Brewery Engineering at NMSU, called NMSBrew, is a minor program in the College of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering. Department head and director of NMSBrew David Rockstraw said the program was established after a couple of students insisted the department should be brewing in the lab. He agreed after learning about the growing need for engineers trained on the details of brewery operations.
“I assigned the task of design and economic analysis of the pilot brewery to a group of seniors, who performed the design as part of their capstone project in 2015,” he said.
“This industry continues to grow as consumers demand fresh, locally-produced craft beers of a variety of styles. This growth pattern will likely persist for several years. Competition in the industry is strong, and thus it is expected that some breweries will not succeed. NMSBrew provides engineering and analytical services and trained personnel who will provide New Mexico breweries a commercial advantage,” Rockstraw said.
On August 6, Chemical and Materials Engineering hosted a sensory evaluation training with Lindsay Barr from the New Belgium Brewing Company. She taught NMSBrew faculty and advisers on how to conduct a sensory evaluation during the morning session.
NMSU faculty, staff, students and alumni participated in sensory panels led by the NMSBrew faculty in the afternoon sessions. The panels learned how to evaluate beer using visual, aroma, taste and mouthfeel descriptions.
Chemical and Materials Engineering has offered the Brewing Science and Technology course for about 10 years and it includes nearly 100 students per semester.
The Brewery Engineering course had 17 students enrolled in the spring, and Rockstraw said several found jobs in the industry. A new minor in brewery engineering was available during the 2017-2018 academic year.
The program offered a summer international brewery studies course for the first time this year to England and Ireland that included 10 students, and has plans to visit Belgium and Holland next year.
NMSBrew faculty Catherine Brewer, assistant professor, and Stephen Taylor, adjunct professor, led the trip.
NMSBrew has new two facilities in Jett Hall, Seidel Brewery Pilot Plant and NMSBrew Analysis Laboratory.
Last summer, New Mexico State University professors in the College of Arts and Sciences: Immo Hansen, associate professor in biology and principle investigator of NMSU’s Hansen Lab, and Mary Alice Scott, associate professor of anthropology, released a survey seeking homemade mosquito repellent methods and strategies.
The goal was to discover cheaper and more easily available repellents beyond commercial products to test them in a future study against traditional repellents such as DEET.
The survey was available in English, Spanish and Portuguese and was distributed in countries in which residents were likely to speak one these languages. In addition to open-ended questions about repellents, there was a multiple-choice question listing 13 repellent control methods.
As a precursor to this research, Scott previously observed residents of Veracruz, Mexico, using three different methods to repel mosquitoes.
“These were burning mosquito coils that were commercially produced, though I did not learn what the ingredients of these coils were, sprinkling small amounts of gasoline around the perimeter of an area to be protected from mosquitoes, although this was probably the least common method, and burning bundles of dried herbs, which I believe was to produce smoke to keep mosquitoes away since different herbs were used at different times,” she said. “I did not test the effectiveness of any of these techniques, so I can’t say how effective they are.”
“From the responses, we compiled a table of more than 200 techniques people use, from stuff they eat or drink – such as garlic or gin and tonics – to burning various herbs, plants, and even animal dung, to stuff they rub on their skin – again, like garlic – to spatial repellents,” said Hansen.
“For me the most surprising answer was the use of dryer sheets,” said Scott. “I had not heard of dryer sheets being used before, although some other members of our research team were familiar with that method.”
As an anthropologist, Scott’s expertise is in qualitative research.
“My role on this project was to develop the qualitative components of the survey used to collect the data that were analyzed for this project,” Scott said.
The majority of respondents to the survey resided in the United States, 67 percent of whom were female, 81 percent of whom had a university degree, and 50 percent of whom were 18 to 37 years old.
“The most commonly used repellent was DEET spray, which made up 48 percent of the responses,” Hansen said. “This also corresponds
with our research that says DEET spray is the most effective repellent.”
The DEET spray particles adhere to mosquitoes’ odor receptors, which prevent them from locating a human with DEET particles around him. From Hansen’s research, mosquitoes have not developed any kind of resistance to DEET, as they have to large-scale insecticides used by public-health agencies to control populations.
Interestingly, the second most-used method of repelling mosquitoes involved citronella candles, which made up 43 percent of the survey’s responses. Citronella is an essential oil obtained from lemongrass.
Based on their previous research, Hansen says citronella has no effect as a repellent.
“We tested citronella-based repellents in two different assays,” Hansen said, referring to a clear enclosure used to observe behavior and actions within. “We used a Y-tube assay, where we inserted the mosquitoes at the bottom, then put a hand with citronella repellent on it at one end and a hand with no repellent at the other. If citronella were an effective repellent, the mosquito would fly to the hand with no repellent but that’s not what happened.”
The second assay experiment his lab conducted involved a wind tunnel in which a fan blew around someone with citronella-based repellent on, blowing his scent in the direction of the mosquitoes, and this also failed to prevent the mosquitoes from going near the human.
“To be clear, we only ran these experiments on Yellow Fever mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti, which are the ones we’re most concerned with here in southern New Mexico,” Hansen said. “They’re the carriers of viral diseases like Chikungunya, Dengue fever and Zika. There’s nothing to say that citronella isn’t an effective repellent for other types of mosquitoes, such as albopictus, rusticus, or any of the other species.”
Hansen described citronella as having a placebo effect, which, coupled with the oil’s pleasant aroma, could explain why it’s used so much as a mosquito repellent even when it doesn’t work.
“With these responses, we want to start testing some of the methods, like various types of smoke that some people used as a repellent, as well as some of the topically applied methods,” Hansen said.
Hansen and Scott’s study lays the foundation for future research in alternative methods to repel mosquitoes that may be culturally acceptable and more affordable for people.
Eight New Mexico State University students and four NMSU faculty and staff members traveled to New Delhi, India, for the Women Economic Forum.
The WEF is a week-long global conference, “to foster empowering conversations, connections and collaborations among women entrepreneurs and leaders from all spheres of life,” according to its website.
NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences Dean Rolando Flores spoke at the conference and said it was a “transformational experience.”
“There is a lot to learn from the people of India. They are extremely friendly, and they really value American education,” he said.
All of the NMSU delegates presented at the conference, and many gave up to three different presentations on diverse topics related to their areas of expertise. Flores gave three presentations at the WEF and discussed with leaders about possible student exchanges and linkages with India in the future.
“The goal is that all ACES undergraduates, by the time they graduate, have had an international experience beyond the immediate U.S.-Mexico border proximity,” Flores said.
About 2,000 women from more than 120 countries were at the WEF, making it an inspiring experience for NMSU students.
For NMSU graduate student Mary Catey, this experience fueled a new passion. Through hearing people’s stories about how they have made a positive impact in their communities by meeting others” needs, Catey realized the importance of serving others.
“It’s easy to sit there and be inspired, but I’m holding myself accountable. I’m going to do something for my community,” she said.
Catey plans on serving the people of Las Cruces. She said it will be good for the community, but also for herself.
“So many people talked about their experiences helping and how it has changed them as a person, and I want to feel that, too,” she said.
NMSU graduate student Anita Rodriguez said this experience was life-changing because of the wonderful people she met.
“It was very empowering to hear many stories from the heart about obstacles in women’s lives and how they overcame them,” she said.
The students and staff had three pre-conference days of cultural awareness experiences and immersion.
The group went to visit and learn about historical and cultural monuments and spaces in Agra and New Delhi.
Rodriguez’s favorite moment of the trip was when the group was at a rest area on their way to see the Taj Mahal. There was a father and son outside a gift shop on the side of the interstate. The father was playing an instrument while the son danced. They were dressed in bright colored outfits and looked very happy. Rodriguez reached out to give the boy a tip, but instead of grabbing the money, the boy clasped her wrist and led her to dance along with him.
“When the little boy grasped my wrist, it was as if his joy and love was passed on to me and I felt like it broke down walls that I had built up around my heart. That brief encounter changed me for the better, from that moment on,” Rodriguez said. “The tourist attractions were great, but there’s nothing like the people of India and the amazing women we met at the conference.”
This was NMSU’s first year participating in the conference. The trip was led by Flores, Manoj Shukla, professor in the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Claudia Trueblood, operations officer for the College of ACES, and Angelina Palumbo, director of NMSU Education Abroad and Aggies Go Global.
Trueblood and Palumbo started working with the students in November 2017 and Trueblood will continue to work with them through the fall semester. As a group, they will be making several community presentations about the students’ experiences, what they learned and the importance of international opportunities to encourage other students to travel abroad and open their horizons.
“The College of ACES wants to provide participating students the opportunity to broaden their horizons, to share what they know and are passionate about, learn from others and strengthen their leadership skills,” Palumbo said.
The College of ACES, through its Aggies Go Global program, is beginning to plan the participation of another group of students in the 2019 WEF conference.
Staff Report August 2, 2018NewsComments Off on NMSU’s ‘Aggies Without Limits’ Teams Up with UTEP, Travels the Globe Building Bridges
After approximately 10,000 work hours, New Mexico State University’s Aggies Without Limits student organization – with a bit of help from UTEP students – built a suspended pedestrian bridge in Utuado, Puerto Rico, this summer.
Aggies Without Limits, a student nonprofit organization in the College of Engineering founded in 2007, chooses a local project and international project each year. The group’s mission is to help developing communities with sustainable engineering projects.
While Aggies Without Limits have constructed projects in international locations such as Nicaragua, Bolivia and Mexico, the group selected Puerto Rico, a United States territory, this year after the island was devasted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in fall 2017, according to Kenny Stevens, Engineering Technology professor and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser.
The project ran from May 14 to June 12 with 55 volunteers including 39 NMSU students and alumni and 16 University of Texas-El Paso students and faculty with the Engineers for a Sustainable World organization.
The bridge reached 237 feet and cost around $40,000 in materials.
Stevens also mentioned Sonya Cooper, associate dean in the College of Engineering and Aggies Without Limits co-adviser, “is the MacGyver of the organization. She can take a waste piece of metal and turn it into the one bolt that we need to finish the bridge.”
This year’s collaboration with UTEP was a first for the group. Stevens credited Ivonne Santiago, UTEP Civil Engineering clinical professor, Puerto Rico native and a professional engineer licensed in the territory, with making connections with the community organizer and mayor from Utuado.
“With her help we were able to find a project and bring in a whole new dynamic to our group,” he said.
NMSU mechanical engineering senior David Castellanos said he enjoyed helping others and personally learned a great deal as project manager.
“It was a beautiful experience,” he said. “It’s crazy how a project like this brings people together.”
While the Aggies Without Limits began as an engineering organization about half of the group’s members are from other disciplines. Communication disorders senior and Aggies Without Limits president Molly Williams joined to volunteer for international service.
“You don’t have to be an engineering student to move rocks or to help pour concrete or help build a form,” she said. “If you have a basic understanding you can help.”
A professor in New Mexico State University’s Department of Biology received a $1.46 million grant to study amino acid transport in mosquitoes in the hopes of finding new ways for controlling their population.
Immo Hansen, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, received the grant from the National Institutes of Health at the beginning of July.
“We’re going to study how mosquitoes move amino acids from one tissue to the next,” Hansen said. “They get these amino acids from our blood when they bite us. Then, in other tissues, they use these amino acids to make yolk proteins in order to make eggs and reproduce.”
The amino acids cross a layer called the mid-gut, then are transported to the fat-body tissue, where they are made into yolk proteins, Hansen said.
“The amino acids move across at least four cell membranes and in order to do that, they need a transporter protein,” Hansen. “Mosquitoes have more than 100 different amino acid transporter proteins but we’re going to focus on a group of cationic transporters that have been shown to be really important. If you can develop inhibitors that stop these transporters from doing their job, the mosquito can’t produce any fertile eggs.”
For now the research will focus on the species Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito, which has a dense population in southern New Mexico and is a known carrier for Dengue fever, Zika virus, and Chikungunya.
Hansen is collaborating on this research with Omar Holguin, assistant professor in NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences, who will conduct metabolism research on the mosquitoes. A third collaborator is Dmitri Boudko from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in Chicago, who is an expert in membrane physiology, specifically the study of ion currents in biological tissues.
“We’re going to be taking amino acid transporters from mosquitoes and express them in frog eggs,” Hansen said. “The frog eggs will then produce the mosquito transporter proteins and we can study them with a technique called electrophysiology.”
Hansen said research into population control of mosquitoes is important now because many insecticides have “lost their punch.”
“Mosquitoes in Las Cruces and Roswell are highly resistant to the typical insecticides people use,” he said. “It’s amazing how fast their resistance has evolved.”
The NIH grant will fund this research for the next four years and allow the three professors to hire a postdoctoral fellows to assist in their research.