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Home | Tag Archives: NMSU (page 29)

Tag Archives: NMSU

Teachers Learn from Students during NMSU MathLab Summer Program

Elementary, middle and high school students in 17 classrooms across New Mexico, including New Mexico State University, are helping their teachers improve their teaching skills by participating in the NMSU Mathematically Connected Communities, or MC2, MathLab this week.

MathLab began Monday at University Hills Elementary School and NMSU in Las Cruces, and sites in Artesia, Pojoaque, Los Lunas and Gallup. About 480 students entering grades 2, 3, 4 and 7 and Algebra 1 are participating in the program, along with more than 350 teachers.

“I like the group work, but my favorite part about MathLab was the Yahtzee game. I am learning a lot about equivalent and improper fractions and mixed numbers,” said Caleb Parra, a fifth grade student from Las Cruces Public Schools.

Students in Algebra 1 made bean and cheese burritos in class Monday at O'Donnell Hall as part of the MC2 MathLab summer program. Students in the class counted the burrito's calories and other nutritional data, then graphed the inequalities. (NMSU photo by Adriana M. Chavez) JUNE16
Students in Algebra 1 made bean and cheese burritos in class Monday at O’Donnell Hall as part of the MC2 MathLab summer program. Students in the class counted the burrito’s calories and other nutritional data, then graphed the inequalities. (NMSU photo by Adriana M. Chavez) JUNE16

During the morning sessions, students learn from MC2 teacher leaders while teacher participants observe them via live video stream in adjacent classrooms. Students in second and third grade focus on additive and multiplicative thinking, grade 5 students learn about the application of fractions, grade 7 students study ratios and proportions, and the Algebra 1 topic for middle and high school students is conceptual learning of systems of equations and inequalities. In the afternoon, participants discuss which math practices worked best and the impact on student learning. In addition, teachers participate in professional learning based on the same core math concepts that students are learning.

Doreen Cahill, second grade teacher participant from Alamogordo Public Schools, said she feels MathLab is beneficial to all elementary students because they give teachers insights into how students think.

“What’s most important to teachers is to help students in their individual thinking,” Cahill said.

The MathLab program, now in its third year, includes mathematicians from NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, MC2 teacher leaders and staff, Creative Media Institute faculty, and New Mexico educators. District and school administrators are provided with the opportunity to attend a leadership academy on the final two days of the week in three locations. About 75 are attending this year.

“This has been such a great experience collaborating as professionals from around the state and at the same time getting kids excited about thinking deeply about mathematics and questioning how they think about math,” said Allie Conway, a grade 5 Las Cruces MathLab teacher leader.

MathLab is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the New Mexico Public Education Department Literacy & Early Childhood and Math & Science Bureaus, and the New Mexico Higher Education Department’s Math-Science Partnership Program. The Las Cruces Families and Youth Inc.’s Summer Food Program is providing students with breakfast.

For more information about MC2 Math Lab, contact Sara Morales at smorales@nmsu.edu, or Wanda Bulger-Tamez at wguzman@nmsu.edu

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU to open Passport Acceptance Facility at Garcia Annex

New Mexico State University’s Office of International and Border Programs will open a Passport Acceptance Facility on campus to serve the university community and the general public.

The facility will be located in Room 233A of the Garcia Annex building, located next to Breland Hall. Hours will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday throughFriday beginning June 14.

The facility at NMSU will be a “one-stop shop” for those applying for or renewing passports. Customers will be able to have their passport photos taken on site, and can also get information on the types of passports available.

“We thought the passport acceptance office would be a great way for us to send the message that we are serious about getting out and seeing the world,” said Cornell Menking, associate provost for International and Border Programs at NMSU. “We think having this office on campus builds a nice connection to the community.”

Menking said the office is an opportunity to get members of the general public to visit NMSU and Garcia Annex, one of the more student service-oriented buildings on campus. Menking said there are plans to include passport applications in new freshman orientation materials, and he hopes every NMSU student will obtain a passport.

For more information about the Passport Acceptance Facility at NMSU, please call 575-646-7041 or visit https://ibp.nmsu.edu/

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU Online Programs Continue to be Recognized for Affordability

New Mexico State University was named among the top schools in the country for affordable, high quality online education for 2016.

Affordable Colleges Online has ranked NMSU among the top five in the U.S. in 2016 for its online master’s degree in criminal justice. NMSU tied for fourth place with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

“The online master’s in criminal justice program has high quality faculty who genuinely care about students and make themselves accessible to them,” said Francisco J. Alatorre, assistant professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We serve students interested in advancing their careers and students interested in pursuing doctoral programs. It is rewarding to see outside agencies recognize our efforts, particularly based on alumni feedback.”

Affordable Colleges Online compares schools that are public and non profit based on online degrees available, graduate tuition and fees, academic and career counseling services, job placement for graduates as well as Peer-Based Value, which compares the cost of each program to the cost of similar programs with the same qualitative score.

NMSU’s master’s of public health degree is tied for ninth place with Michigan State and two other universities while NMSU’s doctorate in nursing practice is ranked 23rd.

“We are very pleased to see two of our academic programs getting recognition about their cost effectiveness,” said Donna Wagner, dean of NMSU’s College of Health and Social Services. “Students who are prepared in the MPH program and the DNP program receive an excellent education for an affordable cost and it is great for our faculty and college that this is being acknowledged by the Affordable Colleges Online.”

Affordable Colleges Online ranking of the best online programs for the 2016-2017 school year and a complete look at the methodology can be found here: http://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/methodology/

Author: Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU’s KRWG wins Awards for Broadcast Excellence

New Mexico State University’s KRWG Public Media has won two 2016 Excellence in Broadcasting Awards from the New Mexico Broadcasters Association.

KRWG won the award for best website in the large market radio category. It marks the third time in eight years KRWG has won an award for its website: two from the NMBA and one from the Associated Press.

KRWG Director of Content Fred Martino said there has been a 400 percent increase in website traffic over the past six years.

“Like many news organizations, we are putting a lot of work into our website, and the result is that it’s very robust,” Martino said. “We cover local and state news, and the website is updated seven days a week, including updates throughout the day from the Associated Press.”

Facebook and Twitter also help drive traffic to the krwg.org website, which was redesigned in 2015.

“Many public media organizations use their websites for archives of local content,” he said. “But we needed it to be a primary source for news.”

Martino will accept the website award at the annual NMBA Excellence in Broadcasting Awards Banquet in Albuquerque on June 3.

Reporter/producer Simon Thompson of New Mexico State University’s KRWG Public Media won the 2016 Local Television Programming award for his production "Issues and Answers:  Our Water Future" from the New Mexico Broadcasters Association. (NMSU courtesy photo) MAY16
Reporter/producer Simon Thompson of New Mexico State University’s KRWG Public Media won the 2016 Local Television Programming award for his production “Issues and Answers: Our Water Future” from the New Mexico Broadcasters Association. (NMSU courtesy photo) MAY16

Simon Thompson, a reporter and producer at KRWG, won the Local Television Programming award for his production “Issues and Answers: Our Water Future.” He was competing with much larger stations from Albuquerque.

“I was very flattered that it was regarded as such a good documentary,” Thompson said. “I feel like sometimes awards overlook the smaller stations.”

Thompson said his one-man production raised many issues that need to be addressed about the water scarcity in the region. His show included a documentary section and a panel discussion.

“There is so much science involved in the water situation, and the one-hour format allowed us to articulate the complexity of the issue and to paint the full picture of how dire our water situation really is,” he said.

Thompson’s reporting has also been picked up by KPBS-TV in San Diego. “KPBS-TV has commissioned Simon to do several TV features for the station, which is another indication of his excellent work,” Martino said.

Originally from Australia, Thompson has worked at KRWG for two years. In late May, National Public Radio’s “Here and Now” program aired his report about Germany’s Luftwaffe Air Force Flying Training Center leaving Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo, New Mexico, after 20 years.

Author:  Kristie Garcia – NMSU

NMSU selects Lakshmi Reddi as dean of College of Engineering

Florida International University Graduate School Dean Lakshmi N. Reddi has been selected to lead the New Mexico State University College of Engineering.

“Dean Reddi is a distinguished scholar and has a track record of increasing enrollment and growing research funding and activity,” said NMSU Provost Dan Howard. “We are looking forward to Dean Reddi’s leadership and energy as he guides a strong College of Engineering to new levels of accomplishment in education, research, and service.”

Leading the college for the past year has been Interim Dean Steven Stochaj.

“I also want to take this opportunity to thank Steven Stochaj for his superb leadership of the College of Engineering over the course of the past year,” Howard said. “Dr. Stochaj’s willingness to interrupt his research and teaching activities for a year to serve the college and NMSU so well has earned the gratitude and respect of Aggies everywhere. Thank you Dr. Stochaj.”

Reddi will start on July 1.

“I really can’t wait to get started,” Reddi said. “It’s a great opportunity to make an impact.”

Reddi said after learning of the university’s strategic goals in conversations with Howard and Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, he found his interests and experience are perfectly aligned with those goals.

From 2011 to the present, Reddi has served as dean of the University Graduate School and professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Florida International University.

From 2013 to the present, he has been director of the Academy of Graduates for Integrative Learning Experiences (AGILE) at Florida International University and has held numerous other administrative appointments throughout his career.

From 2007-2011, he served as department chair and the Gerry and Ruth Hartman Professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida.

From 2000-2007, he was head of the Department of Civil Engineering at Kansas State University, also serving as a professor in the department from 1999-2007. He was an associate professor in civil engineering at Kansas State University from 1995-1999 and an assistant professor in civil engineering there from 1992-1995.

From 1989-1992, Reddi was an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Coastal Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey.

The new dean brings an educational background that includes a bachelor of technology in civil engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in India, 1982, a master of science in civil engineering from The Ohio State University, 1984, and a doctor of philosophy in civil engineering from The Ohio State University, 1988.

Reddi is interested in returning to a land-grant university, especially one that is also a Hispanic-serving institution.

“I greatly admired the land-grant mission for providing quality education and having comprehensive programs in research and outreach,” he said. “New Mexico State University has an excellent culture balancing these three.”

He noted NMSU’s outstanding faculty, diverse student body and the university’s outreach mission.

“New Mexico State has taken it to a very high level,” he said. “Giving access to a diverse body of students and ensuring they succeed is very important to me.”

He also noted the NMSU College of Engineering’s research, outreach and service activities, such as Pathways to Innovation, NASA-EPSCoR and the Water Resources Research Institute. Collaborative opportunities with external stakeholders and community engagement efforts also stand out at the college.

“These are the strengths I see as an outsider,” he said. “When I look at your peer institutions, you are second to none.”

Reddi listed challenges the college faces as the need to build visibility among peers and recruiters; the need for program and faculty growth; the need to increase research productivity and doctoral education; and the need to boost student recruitment, retention and graduation.

The new dean plans to emphasize entrepreneurial and resourceful approaches and to diversify revenue streams at the college. Reddi’s top goal when he arrives as dean will be to increase research productivity.

Author: Darrell J. Pehr – NMSU

NMSU Researchers Receive State Grant to map Zika-carrying Mosquitoes

While the rest of the world is keeping its distance from the mosquito that carries the Zika virus, two New Mexico State University professors are seeking out this mosquito, which carries not only Zika but also a host of other diseases as well.

Thanks to a grant through the New Mexico Department of Health, NMSU biology professor Kathryn Hanley and NMSU geography professor Michaela Buenemann, both in the College of Arts and Sciences, and their graduate students will begin a project to trap mosquitos in different locations around New Mexico and generate a species distribution model that health officials can use to identify where the disease-carrying insects are most likely to be.

“We know these mosquitoes occur in New Mexico,” said Buenemann. “We know these mosquitoes have been detected, but we don’t know their geographic distribution. We will collect samples at selected sites across the state and collect information about temperature, precipitation, land cover and other explanatory variables. We will then link these data in spatial models to map the distribution of mosquito vectors across the state.”

09/18/2012: NMSU biology professor Kathryn Hanley stands for a photograph in her lab. (Photo by Darren Phillips) FEB15
09/18/2012: NMSU biology professor Kathryn Hanley stands for a photograph in her lab. (Photo by Darren Phillips) FEB15

Hanley has been studying the Zika virus for 10 years. She and Buenemann previously mapped mosquitoes carrying the virus in Senegal, West Africa.

“Until people appreciated that it could cause birth defects, no one was interested in Zika,” said Hanley. “The reason no one paid much attention to Zika virus besides us is that it causes very mild disease in adults. Fever, a little rash, that’s about it.

“It’s only in 2015 that people noticed the association between Zika virus, pregnant women and microcephaly in the babies born to those women. What we found in 2015 is that not only is the virus transmitted by mosquitoes, but also it is sexually transmitted.” Hanley explained those who should worry most about Zika are women who might get pregnant or men carrying the virus who have sex with pregnant women.

“We don’t know the distribution of that vector in New Mexico. That’s critically important. If we want to assess our risk, if we want to know ‘Am I at risk of Zika infection from a mosquito bite?’ we need to know where that mosquito is.”

Stephanie Mundis, an NMSU graduate student with a double major in geography and biology, will spend the summer trapping mosquitoes

NMSU graduate student Stephanie Mundis demonstrates how to set up one of the mosquito traps she will be using this summer as she travels around the state to capture mosquitoes and examine them and their environment to create a map of mosquito populations across New Mexico. (NMSU Photo by Minerva Baumann)
NMSU graduate student Stephanie Mundis demonstrates how to set up one of the mosquito traps she will be using this summer as she travels around the state to capture mosquitoes and examine them and their environment to create a map of mosquito populations across New Mexico. (NMSU Photo by Minerva Baumann)

in specific locations around the state as far north as southern Bernalillo County. Creating a map of mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus in New Mexico will be her thesis project. She expects to have mosquito collection data in the fall and to complete modeling next spring.

“We’re going to be basing our sampling on land cover, so we’re going to be sampling urban areas, agricultural, forest, barren, rangeland and wetlands,” Mundis said. “We’re trying to get a good sample for each of those land cover types so we know we’ve covered the types in the area.

“My thesis is based on modeling the potential distribution of these species throughout New Mexico,” said Mundis, while unfolding one of three types of traps she and another graduate student, Clara Hansen, will use to capture mosquitos in the wild.

The white fabric cylinder contains a lactic acid lure that attracts mosquitoes by mimicking the scent of human skin. The mosquitoes follow the scent into a cone in the cylinder and a fan sucks them into a net where they are captured.

“Once we catch them, we will be freezing them or putting them in coolers, keeping them as cool as possible. We will be using morphological keys to identify them. Just by looking at certain traits and patterns on their thorax, we can easily identify these mosquitoes.”

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the Zika virus, has noticeable white markings in the shape of a Greek lyre on its thorax and white banding on its legs.

Once the mosquitoes are captured and identified, layers of geographic data will be used to create a computer model to provide information for health officials and the general public.

Geography professor Michaela Buenemann (submitted photo)
Geography professor Michaela Buenemann (submitted photo)

“The problem with mosquitoes of course is that they are really, really tiny. We cannot see them from aerial or satellite imagery,” said Buenemann. “There is no quick fix to figure out where they actually occur. We’ll be tracking how the abundance of mosquitoes changes across space and through time, so we will have spatially and temporally somewhat explicit information that can be used to inform the public about when they are most likely be bitten by a potentially infected mosquito and where.”

Hanley hears two questions from most people about the Zika virus: Is Zika coming to my area, and what can I do to minimize my risk?

“Here in New Mexico, the answer is yes. We have the vector for Zika virus. Zika will come to our area,” Hanley said. “As for the risk, it depends on whether you are a reproductive age adult and interested in getting pregnant or you might have sex with someone who is pregnant or may get pregnant. If you’re outside that range, you don’t have to worry much.”

After mapping New Mexico for the mosquitoes that carry the Zika virus, Hanley and Buenemann will begin another project to map Zika virus transmission in Borneo to find out which animal species are transmitting the virus.

“We know that the virus occurs in monkeys in Africa and Asia,” Hanley said. “We’re worried it is going to get into monkeys in the Americas, because if it does that, we’ll never be able to eradicate Zika virus from the Americas.”

For more about NMSU mosquito research and tips about the Zika virus, visit mosquitotips.nmsu.edu

Author:  Minerva Baumann – NMSU

NMSU sees First Graduates in Spanish Counseling Minor Program

Four graduate students at New Mexico State University’s College of Education were the first to graduate with a Spanish counseling minor when they received their degrees May 14. Another graduate student in the minor’s first cohort will receive her degree this summer.

The five students were also recognized during a short ceremony May 11 hosted by the faculty in the college’s Counseling and Educational Psychology department. Professor Eve Adams said the Spanish counseling minor is one of the very few in the country and will help make the healthcare workforce more linguistically competent.

The five students are Jessica Lopez, Abril Padrón, Jennifer Torres, Lizet Lizardo and Maria Mendoza.

Ivelisse Torres Fernandez and Anna Lopez, both assistant professors in the Counseling and Educational Psychology department, helped found the Spanish counseling program in 2012. The program is currently led by Virginia Longoria, a postdoctoral fellow in the Counseling and Educational Psychology Department and graduate of the doctoral Counseling Psychology program. Longoria’s position has been partially funded by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Graduate Psychology Education program.

Torres Fernandez said the idea for the minor began years earlier with three doctoral students who saw the need for bilingual counseling training based on the shortage of Spanish-speaking mental health professionals. The minor was approved in 2013, and initially was funded through a grant from the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs.

Torres Fernandez said the minor addresses the shortage of bilingual counselors nationwide, and also serves as a recruitment tool for the department.

“This program came about as a grassroots movement that started with students,” Torres Fernandez said. “None of this would have been possible without them. I think that there’s no doubt, because we’re located in a border region, more times than none we will work with clients whose primary language is Spanish. This is not only about developing linguistic competencies but also develop cultural competencies and social justice advocacy skills in order to work with these clients.”

Torres Fernandez said students enrolled in the minor are especially dedicated, considering the minor is not required and adds additional courses to an already heavy course load. Many of the students are also first-generation graduates and have parents who only speak Spanish. Lopez said the program hit close to home, which is why she chose it as her minor.

“I grew up in a Spanish-speaking household with my single mom and little sister, so I know first hand the difficulties that come from being unable to communicate in English,” Lopez said. “I wanted to complete the minor in Spanish counseling because I wanted to bridge the gap for those individuals who live in the U.S. but cannot communicate in the manner that they would like to because of the language barrier. During my internship at Ben Archer Health Center this semester, I have learned that there is a great need for Spanish-speaking mental health professionals in the area. It is surprising because given the area that we live in, one would think that there would be plenty of Spanish-speaking providers but that is simply not the case. The wait-lists are always that much longer for Spanish speakers because of the deficit of Spanish-speaking providers.”

Lizardo said the decision to minor in Spanish counseling was a “natural choice,” since Spanish was her first language. Through her participation in the program, she was able to intern at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence in El Paso and connect with Spanish-speaking clients at a cultural level while successfully applying counseling principles.

“Growing up, I witnessed how hard it was for my mother to receive any kind of services because she only spoke Spanish,” Lizardo said. “Because of this experience, I want to be a person that others can feel comfortable communicating with. Living in this area where most of the population is Spanish-speaking, I wanted to be a competent counselor that provided a space for clients to comfortably express their struggles in their home language. Even though I experienced this first hand, the program expanded my awareness of the systemic problems that our minority clients have to face.”

Author:  Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU Student Organization Raises Money to help Fight Cancer, Support Survivors

A student organization at New Mexico State University has raised hundreds of dollars over the past year to raise cancer awareness and provide support to those who have survived the potentially deadly disease.

But along with raising money, members of the Voice Against Cancer student organization at NMSU have often found themselves providing emotional support to those who have fought the disease, or those with a loved one stricken with cancer.

Voice Against Cancer president Vijaya Kumar Pandey, a computer science student graduating with his master’s degree this Saturday, said the organization has about 20 active members who are involved with fundraising and manning a table every month at Corbett Center. The organization’s table features information on a different cancer every month.

“Cancer impacts all of us,” Pandey said. “It may impact us today or tomorrow. It’s a very unpredictable disease.”

Over the past year, the organization has raised close to $700. Some of the money is donated during the organization’s participation in the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Each year, the organization identifies a cause to support locally and internationally. This year, members chose pediatric cancer patients, and raised money for patients at the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital in Albuquerque, and a children’s hospital in Juárez. In the past, the organization raised money for cervical cancer screenings in Nepal and Tanzania.

Members of the student organization have also visited Nepal and Tanzania to get a first-hand look at how the money they raised is helping people in those countries. On April 30, two members visited the Juárez children’s hospital and gave out gifts to about 80 patients. And the organization donated $200 to AggieTHON, another student organization that raises money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

In the past, members have also raised money to buy supplies for cancer patients in need and sent holiday cards to patients. Pandey said that while members man the table every month, people often stop by to talk about their experiences with cancer, whether as a survivor or as someone who knows someone else with the disease.

“They’ll see us tabling and share their feelings,” Pandey said. “It makes us happy because we’re showing support to survivors and the people fighting against cancer.”

Students of any major can become members of the organization, which meets monthly.

“A lot of investment is needed for cancer research,” said Cynthia Kratzke, associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the College of Health and Social Services and faculty adviser for the organization. “If we continue to support that research along with the patients, then hopefully one day we will win the battle against cancer.”

For more information about Voice Against Cancer, visit http://web.nmsu.edu/~4cancer/about.php

Author: Adriana M. Chavez – NMSU

NMSU CMI Short Film to Premiere at Cannes Film Festival this Month

An undergraduate thesis film created through New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute will premiere this month as part of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner.

Written and directed by NMSU alumnus Julian Alexander, “Buffalo” is the first CMI production to premiere at Cannes – one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. The film stars actors Craig Tate (“12 Years a Slave” and “The Butler”) and Israel Hall.

For Alexander, a 2014 graduate of the Creative Media Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences, the childhood tales his father shared of Buffalo Soldiers helped to inspire the 20-minute fictional drama set in post-Civil War New Mexico.

men on horses
Craig Tate, left, and Israel Hall star in “Buffalo,” a short film by NMSU CMI graduate Julian Alexander. The film will premiere this month as part of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. (Photo -NMSU)

The story follows a Buffalo Soldier who, while on special assignment escorting hunters through Apache territory, forms an unlikely friendship with his white officer. On their journey, the soldier is forced to confront a painful chapter of his past as a slave on a Southern plantation.

“As they travel together, they learn to overlook their differences in order to protect each other,” Alexander said. “The film’s about letting go.”

Though the film takes place more than 100 years ago, Alexander explained that its racial dynamics are still relevant in today’s society.

“This film is so contemporary, and I guess that’s why people may be relating to it so much,” he said. “It’s based in 1877, but it’s so current – it’s the same dynamic with authority, especially with black folks and white authority, where racial tension might still be prevalent.”

Ilana Lapid, assistant professor in NMSU’s Creative Media Institute, supervised the project.

“Julian is a remarkable young filmmaker with a generous spirit and boundless enthusiasm,” Lapid said. “He is committed to making films that matter to him and to the world.”

According to Lapid, Alexander spent weeks honing his screenplay into a “poignant story engaging race, history and human connections that transcend boundaries.”

“The film serves as a great example to our current CMI students that with a good story, clear vision, dedicated team and strong work ethic, you can make great things happen,” she said.  “At CMI, we strive to give our students the tools and skills to enter into their chosen path in the film industry, and also encourage them to tell stories that matter to them. I encourage my students to lead from the heart.”

With production elements involving horses, a herd of buffalo and the only white buffalo in the state, Lapid said this project would have proved challenging for professional filmmakers.

The team, including producer and fellow CMI alumnus Keagan Karnes, also worked with various historical organizations and Native American groups on campus prior to filming on-location in Cubero, New Mexico, near Grants.

“All of these people really believed in the script and in the words that I wrote, which is crazy and I still can’t believe it, honestly,” Alexander said. “It’s such an amazing experience to have.”

Alexander plans to attend the film’s premiere during the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, May 16-22. Joining him will be Karnes and the film’s director of photography, Andrew Griego, all of whom attended Las Cruces High School together and have maintained a close friendship for nearly a decade.

“Everybody is feeling great,” Alexander said. “It’s so amazing to be able to do something like this with your best friends.”

Alexander is now studying for a Master of Arts in filmmaking from Leeds Beckett University in the United Kingdom. He is currently preparing to direct his thesis film, “Leo,” about the relationship between a human smuggler and the Syrian migrants he is transporting through Italy.

For more information on “Buffalo,” visit http://www.buffaloshortfilm.com

Author:  Dana Beasley – NMSU

NMSU Student wins Fulbright Award to Study Parrot Species in Uruguay

New Mexico State University biology graduate student Grace Smith Vidaurre will spend nine months in 2017 studying native populations of a parrot species in Uruguay as a result of being awarded the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award.

Uruguay awards only two research Fulbright grants each year.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright Scholar Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Smith Vidaurre will represent the United States as a cultural ambassador while in Uruguay.

New Mexico State University biology graduate student Grace Smith Vidaurre will study native populations of a parrot species in Uruguay as a result of her being awarded the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Uruguay awards only two research Fulbright grants each year. (Courtesy photo) MAY16
New Mexico State University biology graduate student Grace Smith Vidaurre will study native populations of a parrot species in Uruguay as a result of her being awarded the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Uruguay awards only two research Fulbright grants each year. (Courtesy photo) MAY16

“When I realized I was awarded the Fulbright, I was in disbelief, but I was also extremely excited,” Smith Vidaurre said. “This is a project that represents the crux of what I’ve been working toward for years. The award will help me establish field sites of my own and collect the samples I’d like to collect.”

The parrots she is researching are also known as monk parakeets, which Smith Vidaurre said have been exported to many countries all over the world for the global pet trade.

“For my project, I’m specifically looking at genetic changes and behavioral changes that are perhaps making the parrots more successful invaders,” she said. “I’ll also be looking for signatures of the fact that they’re adapting to these new environments that they’ve been able to invade.”

Tim Wright, associate professor of animal behavior and evolution in the NMSU Department of Biology, is Smith Vidaurre’s adviser.

“Grace is a stellar student who has conceived a cutting-edge project aimed at understanding the evolutionary changes that occur when animal populations invade new habitats like urban environments,” Wright said. “Her Fulbright award is the culmination of several years of hard work collecting pilot data and building the international collaborations that will make her period in Uruguay a success. Furthermore, Grace has extensive experience abroad that will make her an effective ambassador for New Mexico State University and the United States.”

Part of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs within the United States Department of State, the Fulbright

New Mexico State University biology graduate student Grace Smith Vidaurre is seen here helping pollinate a small batch of wild orchids in Chile in 2009, where she worked as an intern for the National Botanic Garden of Viña del Mar. Smith Vidaurre was awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright Scholar grant to study native populations of a parrot species in Uruguay. (Courtesy photo) MAY16
New Mexico State University biology graduate student Grace Smith Vidaurre is seen here helping pollinate a small batch of wild orchids in Chile in 2009, where she worked as an intern for the National Botanic Garden of Viña del Mar. Smith Vidaurre was awarded a 2016-17 Fulbright Scholar grant to study native populations of a parrot species in Uruguay. (Courtesy photo) MAY16

Scholar Program awards approximately 1,600 grants to students in the U.S. annually.

The program operates in over 155 countries.

Smith Vidaurre’s genomic research is supported in part from a pilot award from the National Center for Genome Resources as part of a larger Institutional Development Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, as well as by private donations from Michael and Susan Achey.

NMSU undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing a Fulbright Fellowship may contact Honors College Associate Dean Tim Ketelaar at ketelaar@nmsu.edu

Author:  Kristie Garcia – NMSU

NMSU Board of Regents approves operating budget for 2016-17

At a regular meeting May 13, the New Mexico State University Board of Regents approved the university system’s operating budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The total budget for all campuses is $621 million, a decrease of about $30 million from the current year’s budget.

During the meeting, the Board of Regents recognized outgoing ASNMSU President Dustin Chavez for his service to the university during his time on campus. The Regents also recognized the NMSU men’s and women’s tennis teams, the women’s golf team and softball team for the completion of their successful seasons.

05/13/2016: NMSU president Garrey Carruthers, center, Provost Dan Howard, far left, and members of the NMSU Board of Regents present Tim Ketelaar, fourth from right, with an Above and Beyond Award in recognition of Ketelaar's outstanding service to the university. Ketelaar was joined by his spouse, Martha Ketelaar, third from right. (NMSU Photo)
05/13/2016: NMSU president Garrey Carruthers, center, Provost Dan Howard, far left, and members of the NMSU Board of Regents present Tim Ketelaar, fourth from right, with an Above and Beyond Award in recognition of Ketelaar’s outstanding service to the university. Ketelaar was joined by his spouse, Martha Ketelaar, third from right. (NMSU Photo)

The Regents’ Above and Beyond Award was presented to Tim Ketelaar, an associate professor in psychology and associate dean of the NMSU Honors College. He’s also interim department head of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“He is a valued colleague and a visionary member of our campus community,” said Miriam Chaiken, dean of the Honors College. “He is always trying to see how we can make the institution better. He also helps us focus on the positive in times of great challenge.”

Others described Ketelaar as hard working and a servant leader. He created the university’s Salon Discovery program and has served as chair of the NMSU Faculty Senate.

Author: Justin Bannister – NMSU

NMSU Model U.N. Team wins big at Conference, Gains Real-World Experience

For more than a decade, New Mexico State University’s Model United Nations team has received top tier awards at the annual National Model U.N. Conference in New York City.

This year, the team continued its standard of excellence, receiving multiple individual awards and earning the Outstanding Delegation Award, the highest honor presented to a university team.

“It didn’t surprise me in the least,” said Neal Rosendorf, NMSU Model U.N. faculty adviser and assistant professor of government in the College of Arts and Sciences. “It is an extraordinary privilege to be working with these students.”

From left: NMSU Model U.N. members Connor Schultz, Marcus Sanchez, Joseph Cairns, Ukraine's Ambassador to the U.N. Voldymyr Yelchenko, NMSU Model U.N. faculty adviser Neal Rosendorf, DeLorean Forbes, Ismael Torres, Ricardo Serrano and Hannah Fort. (Courtesy photo) APR16
From left: NMSU Model U.N. members Connor Schultz, Marcus Sanchez, Joseph Cairns, Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.N. Voldymyr Yelchenko, NMSU Model U.N. faculty adviser Neal Rosendorf, DeLorean Forbes, Ismael Torres, Ricardo Serrano and Hannah Fort. (Courtesy photo) APR16

In March, the group of 14 competed against more than 2,500 students from schools all around the world. The team, representing Ukraine, served on committees to address current global issues, including rural education, arms control, drug trafficking, forest management, organized crime and finance.

In addition to the delegation award, several members took home individual prizes, including five Outstanding Position papers across nine students, as well as two Outstanding Delegate awards.

DeLorean Forbes, a sophomore government major, and Ismael Torres, a dual major in economics and government, were selected by peers at the conference to be Outstanding Delegates for their partnership on the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. This committee addressed the U.N.’s drug policy, specifically the issue of narcotic drug trafficking to finance terrorism.

“Our grand strategy as a whole was to be diplomatic – try to work with people who want to work with you, don’t make unnecessary enemies, but at the same time understand that not everyone is there to play nice,” Forbes said.

As a simulation of the actual United Nations, Model U.N. is intended to educate students on effective communication and multilateral diplomacy. The NMSU program is supported by academic coursework organized by the Department of Government, but is open to students of all majors at the university.

Current team members have plans to pursue a variety of endeavors, including law school, private business and the Peace Corps. Through the program, the students are better prepared for many professional challenges, such as how to succeed in environments that can be pressurized and highly political, Rosendorf explained.

“This is an invaluable tool for learning how to cooperate with people – how to collaborate while still being a part of the team, how to get your ideas across. It’s a great experience that you don’t get inside of a conventional classroom,” said Joli McSherry, a government major interested in pursuing a career in public relations and diplomacy.

Additionally, by identifying as different countries, students gain wider knowledge of international affairs and policy.

Since its establishment in the late 90’s, NMSU Model U.N. has successfully represented a handful of contentious countries, such as Lebanon, the Central African Republic, Lithuania and, this year, Ukraine.

“I personally advocated for Ukraine because I go to a Ukrainian Orthodox church here in Las Cruces,” said Matthew McNeile, senior government major and NMSU Model U.N. president. “We were able to meet with the bishop of that church, and it was a great resource to be able to learn about the country.”

At the conference, the team also had the rare opportunity to meet the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations.

“It was a big deal,” Torres said. “We sat in his diplomacy room, on opposite sides, and he answered every question we had about Ukrainian diplomacy in politics. At the end, he told us to follow him on Twitter.”

So what keeps the team succeeding year after year? McNeile said the reason is threefold.

“There are so many great students that come to NMSU, especially that come through the government department and economics department,” he said. “Secondly, the institutional memory – we have templates and models we can use from last year that work really well. And third, I’d say the amount of preparation we do for the conference.”

Each fall, the team president and faculty adviser select NMSU Model U.N. members through a competitive application and interview process. The end result is a group of savvy, self-motivated and multitalented individuals.

“These folks are looking for the potential for excellence, and for those who are returning, proven excellence,” Rosendorf said. “At the end of the day, this is their team. And while I’ve tried my best to be a resource, more often than not, I’ve found myself to be a proud observer and admiring bystander.”

For more information on NMSU Model U.N. visit https://mun.nmsu.edu

Author: Dana Beasley – NMSU

NMSU Celebrates National Park Service Centennial with Classes, Public Events

For 100 years, the National Park Service has worked to preserve more than 400 of the nation’s most intriguing and historically significant locations.

In recognition of this centennial, New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences will present classes, public lectures and a blog series bringing the magnificence of national parks to the NMSU campus and Las Cruces community.

“The national parks preserve the jewels of our country, both in natural beauty and in history,” said Jon Hunner, a professor of history who is helping to plan NMSU’s NPS centennial celebration. “It’s not only something that has preserved our history and our natural beauty, but it’s served as a model for other countries to preserve their own.”

From Chaco Canyon to the Santa Fe Historic Trail, New Mexico is home to 14 diverse national parks. Beginning this fall, the “College of Arts and Sciences Celebrates the Parks” initiative will host superintendents from different parks around the state in a free, bi-monthly public lecture series.

“These parks have important cultural value to our country and the State of New Mexico,” said Enrico Pontelli, interim dean of the college. “This project is a way for the College of Arts and Sciences to support our faculty and share the historic journey of our nation’s national parks with our campus community.”

The series will also feature national representatives, such as Julia Washburn, associate director of education for the National Park Service, and William Tweed, a former NPS employee who will discuss the impact of climate change on the nation’s parks.

With speakers also making special presentations to NMSU classes, these events will offer students the opportunity to network with potential future employers.

“I am extremely pleased to note that many of our students have interned in various park units and have also found careers upon completion of their degrees in Las Cruces,” said Peter Kopp, director of NMSU’s public history program. “As an educator, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing our students take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real-world work in historical interpretation and programing.”

This fall, Kopp will offer a new graduate and upper division reading seminar on the NPS to NMSU students. Carol Campbell, associate professor of geography, will also teach an upper-level undergraduate course on the geography of the national parks, which will include fieldtrips to nearby sites.

“Educating students about the U.S. National Parks is one of the most rewarding activities I engage in,” Campbell said. “On a personal level, parks have fostered my desire for a ‘living laboratory,’ where families and friends can go exploring and develop a land ethic, or shared respect for the parks and the lives within them – wild and human.”

01/25/2010: History professor Jon Hunner (photo by Darren Phillips)
01/25/2010: History professor Jon Hunner (photo by Darren Phillips)

As part of the centennial celebration, Hunner is currently producing an ongoing blog about the NPS, called “Driven by History.” Every Monday evening, Hunner posts a new short history of an NPS unit at drivenbyhistory.blogspot.com

While on sabbatical this summer and fall, Hunner will take his blog on the road, driving to national parks around the country to research and write firsthand about these locations. His goal is to write a history of the United States through the lens of the parks where the historic events actually happened.

“We became who we are as a country because of the encounters, the exchanges that happened at these parks,” he said. “They really are one of the best places where we can get directly connected with our past.”

Hunner’s travels will take him across the United States, exploring parks like Death Valley and Yellowstone, as well as historic sites such as Mississippi’s Vicksburg National Military Park and Brown v. Board of Education in Kansas. Upon his return, Hunner plans to compile his blog posts into a book.

For those who can’t make the transcontinental trek to explore the nation’s parks, the organizers behind the “College of Arts and Sciences Celebrates the Parks” assure there are plenty of interesting locations close to home.

While most have visited White Sands National Monument or Carlsbad Caverns National Park, local historic districts – including Mesquite, Alameda and Mesilla Park – are also the result of National Park Service programs, Kopp explained.

“In short,” he said, “there is a much bigger story and purpose of the parks than just the ‘crown jewels’ such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. Those of us involved with the planning hope that the centennial lecture series, classes and other events broaden the public’s perception of the wonders of the park system and the challenges facing it.”

Author:  Dana Beasley – NMSU

Scholarship Funds Raised During NMSU’s ‘Giving Tuesday’ help Students Achieve Goals

When Stephanie Esparza graduated from Santa Teresa High School in May 2013, she wasn’t planning to attend college. She said she doubted her ability to succeed and feared that a college education was too great a challenge for her.

She overcame that fear with the encouragement of her parents and the support of a scholarship from the Hunt Family Foundation, and will earn her associate degree on Thursday from Dona Ana Community College, with plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree at New Mexico State University in public health.

“The greatest challenge that I had to overcome was myself – thinking I could not get this far in school,” Esparza said. “I was the first woman in my family to attend college and had to figure out the ropes of college by making mistakes. Receiving the Hunt scholarship has shown me that I can make it through college and be great in school – I think of the Hunt Family Foundation as another set of parents walking behind me, knowing I can finish school strong.”

The El Paso-based Hunt Family Foundation took advantage of a matching opportunity during NMSU’s inaugural Giving Tuesday event, held Dec. 1, 2015, to add another $5,000 gift to the foundation’s existing scholarship fund, which benefits students from Dona Ana County who attend Dona Ana Community College.

Gifts made to scholarships for Giving Tuesday were matched by the Foundation using funds from NMSU’s Alumni License Plate program.

Recipients of the Hunt Family Foundation Scholarship also receive separate matching funds from the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico’s Wynne Scholarship.

“The Giving Tuesday matching opportunity was too good to pass up,” said Josh Hunt, president of the Hunt Family Foundation. “Thanks to these matching dollars, we were able to stretch the impact of our gift from $5,000 to $10,000, and then from $10,000 to $20,000. That’s scholarship funding that benefits students right here in the Borderplex region, which is very important to our organization.”

With every last gift counted and each dollar-for-dollar scholarship match accounted for, the one-day Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign added a total of $5.7 million dollars to scholarship funds across the NMSU system.

Online and in-person gifts from donors during the 24-hour period of Dec. 1 totaled $628,984, and another $834,450 came from members of the NMSU Foundation Board of Directors, which boasted 100 percent participation. Other gifts established in anticipation of Giving Tuesday added nearly $1 million, for a pre-match total of $2,900,143.

“When our team began planning for this Giving Tuesday initiative, I quietly set a goal for us, hoping we’d raise $250,000 in one day,” said Andrea Tawney, vice president for university advancement and president of the NMSU Foundation. “The generosity of our Aggie community blew that goal out of the water, bringing in 10 times that in gifts. This day was utterly transformative for our students.”

More than 80 new scholarships were established, and the initiative drew more than 2,440 donors, including 655 who were making their first-ever gift to the NMSU system.

“We’re really proud of the way our alumni responded to this call to action,” said Leslie Cervantes, associate vice president for alumni engagement and participation. “We received gifts from 293 brand-new alumni donors on Giving Tuesday. Support from our alumni is critical to student success, and this was a great opportunity to connect with our graduates who were looking for a meaningful way to give back.”

NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers, who was one of many campus leaders who made gifts of their own during Giving Tuesday, said he was proud to see so much enthusiasm for the cause of boosting scholarship funds for students.

“We had tremendous participation from our caring Aggie community,” he said. “All of our Foundation board and our regents made contributions, and we saw gifts roll in from all over – from business leaders across the globe and from our own students right here on campus. We’re building a culture of philanthropy here that’s really special.”

The NMSU Foundation plans to build on the success of Giving Tuesday with its second-annual event this fall. For more information about Giving Tuesday, the NMSU Foundation or the Office of University Advancement, visit advancing.nmsu.edu

Author: Amanda Bradford – NMSU

NMSU Students Receive Cheryl L. Wase Archaeology Scholarships to Fund Tuition, Field Courses

The Society for American Archaeology has awarded three undergraduates in New Mexico State University’s College of Arts and Sciences with competitive scholarships.

Kayla Brown, Keighley Hastings and Kailey Martinez each received the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship for the Study of Archaeology last month in acknowledgement of their exceptional promise for academic and professional development in archaeology, explained Rani Alexander, head of NMSU’s Department of Anthropology. The scholarships will cover the cost of tuition and fees, as well as books for classroom and field-based courses.

“Each student possesses a ‘can do’ optimism about their education and future careers, as well as the enthusiasm for archaeological fieldwork, laboratory work and public archaeology that characterizes the most successful young researchers in our discipline,” Alexander said.

From left: Kayla Brown, Keighley Hastings and Kailey Martinez, all students in NMSU's Department of Anthropology, have been awarded the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship by the Society for American Archaeology. (NMSU photo by Tom Conelly) APR16
From left: Kayla Brown, Keighley Hastings and Kailey Martinez, all students in NMSU’s Department of Anthropology, have been awarded the Cheryl L. Wase Memorial Scholarship by the Society for American Archaeology. (NMSU photo by Tom Conelly) APR16

The Wase Memorial Scholarship is competitively awarded to undergraduate women who are residents of New Mexico studying for a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology, with a concentration in archaeology, from a fully accredited New Mexico university.

Brown, Hastings and Martinez make up three of the four 2016 scholarship recipients, along with Samantha Ascoli at the University of New Mexico.

“Being awarded out of such a strong candidate pool has reassured me that all of the classes, volunteer work and field schools are paying off and helping me to build a strong foundation for my future career,” said Martinez, a senior double majoring in anthropology and wildlife science, with a minor in biology.

This summer, Martinez will participate in an archaeological project at South Diamond Creek in the Gila National Forest.

The Wase Memorial Scholarship is named after archaeologist Cheryl Wase, who spent most of her career working in the high deserts of New Mexico before her death in 2004 at age 53. When her mother, Jane Francy Wase, passed away in 2013, she left a donation to the Society for American Archaeology to endow a memorial scholarship in her daughter’s name.

“It’s such an honor not only to be a recipient of this scholarship, but to represent NMSU at such a prestigious level – I’m extremely grateful,” said Brown, a junior anthropology major and religion minor.

After dropping out of school and returning several years later, Hastings – now in her junior year as an anthropology major – said receiving this scholarship “meant the world” to her.

“Prior to this, I was only able to take one class at a time, and worked very hard throughout the year to be able to afford it,” Hastings said. “This scholarship will allow me to be a full-time student and study a subject I love.”

With help from this funding, Brown and Hastings will attend this summer’s NMSU Archaeological Field School at Cottonwood Springs Pueblo, located north of Las Cruces.

The Wase Memorial Scholarship is renewable for up to five years, as long as the recipient remains enrolled, maintains the required grade point average and continues to pursue a degree in anthropology with an emphasis in archaeology.

For more information on the Society for American Archaeology, visit www.saa.org

Author: Dana Beasley – NMSU

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