August 2023


Recognizing One Who Truly Made a Difference


By Dr. Luis Cifuentes, Vice President for Research, Creativity, and Economic Development 

“Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” Denzel Washington

I have tended to stumble into things. After graduating from college, I took a year off to devote myself to what was then my passion, equestrian sports. Convinced I wanted to become a geochemist, I applied to THE best graduate programs during this recess and was summarily denied admission by all. It turns out my science background was not strong enough. Having toyed with the idea of becoming a philosopher, I took the bare minimum of science courses required to get a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.

Alas, I was looking at the prospect of waiting one more year to attend graduate school while I firmed up my resume. Fortunately, my advisor in college was aware of my predicament, reached out to a colleague at the University of Delaware, and passed on that I would likely get into their marine sciences program if I applied. I conveniently ignored the number of times I succumbed to seasickness, polished off an application, got accepted, and landed in Lewes, DE, and the College of Marine Studies.

A crusty full professor, whose name will go unmentioned to protect the innocent, took me under his wing. At the time, he was immersed in the study of flocculation of clays in salt gradients, which the Delaware Estuary provided. Flocculation is the process by which individual clay particles aggregate because of a chemical reaction between the clay particles and salt water. I found myself staring at the formation of clot-like clumps of clay in a microscope, my mind wandering back to philosophical readings on the meaning of existence.

My lack of enthusiasm for staring at flocculation in a microscope spilled onto my coursework, and was noticed by my Chemical Oceanography professor, Dr. Jon Sharp. Untenured at the time, and not a favorite of the crusty full professor, Jon took a risk and offered to take me on as his student. I jumped at the opportunity and enthusiastically earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees under his mentorship.

This past week, Lauren and I celebrated Jon’s 80th birthday in Lewes, DE. Had I not stumbled into oceanography and changed advisors, I would most likely have left oceanography, not met and married Lauren, who happens to be Jon’s wife Gwyn’s sister, and not been party to so many joyous occasions.

Thank you, Jon, for being a greatly supportive mentor, colleague, brother-in-law, and friend.





Dr. Jon Sharp, University of Delaware. Picture credit: Nick Roth, Cape Gazette








News from Research Administration


By Ms. Alisha Giron, Associate Vice President for Research

Our amazing researchers were quite busy this summer! The teams under Research Administration worked through many proposal submissions, new awards, and compliance-related efforts. As such, we are expanding support to better assist with these growing activities. Dr. Michael Toje joined Research Integrity & Compliance (RIC) as a Research Integrity Coordinator this summer. Michael was selected by a committee comprised of Institutional Review Board leadership and members of RIC. Prior to joining NMSU, he taught and advised students at Louisiana State University. Further, we are adding personnel to Research Administration Services (RAS) for pre-award and non-financial post-award support. RAS currently has a position posting for a Grants & Contracts Administrator. We are looking forward to another dynamic addition to Research Administration!    




Dr. Michael Toje, NMSU   

News from Infrastructure and Partnerships


By Dr. Tanner Schaub, Assistant Vice President for Research

Engagement and activity are moving at a fever pitch around internal and external Infrastructure and Partnerships.  Here, we spotlight some noteworthy developments:

Quantum Technology: NMSU has joined forces with a Colorado-led proposal named "Elevate Quantum" for an Economic Development Administration Tech Hub. This initiative aims to fund a decade-long venture that would support three faculty members, two postdocs, and ten undergraduate and six graduate scholarships annually at NMSU. The scientific reputations and professional connections of Dr. Boris Kiefer (Physics) and Dr. John Harding (Math, department head) brought this opportunity to NMSU. Special recognition goes to Deans Reddi, Pontelli, and Flores for collaborating with RCED to establish a joint cost-sharing agreement. We are hoping for the best!

Research Cores Program Summer Outreach: The Research Cores Program hosted two student outreach initiatives this month. One session brought a group of McNair Program scholars to visit with two RCP core facilities directors, Dr. Samuel Belteton of the Microscopic Imaging Core Suite (MICS) and Dr. Robert Young, who directs the Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation Laboratory for hands-on activities in the labs. The scholars finished the day with a discussion with Dr. Tanner Schaub on “Telling your story through high-quality presentations, figures, and scientific writing.”

Second, Dr. Samuel Belteton hosted a two-day workshop for students from the NMSU U54 Partnership for the Advancement of Cancer Research. The workshop included sample preparation, hands-on imaging with light and electron microscopes, and sections on image analysis and creating figures for publication.

Elevating Internal Processes: Building on insights gleaned from past NMSU Research Project/Service Project (RPSP) proposal review processes, we collaborated closely with Government Relations leadership to implement enhancements to this year's RPSP evaluation process. These improvements center around amplifying the input of the University System Budget Committee and incorporating elements such as blind voting and electronic scoring. We sincerely thank Dr. Charlotte Gard, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, Applied Statistics, and International Business, for her instrumental role in facilitating seamless data handling and analysis and contributing to refining our processes.

Empowering STEM+ Education Research: A resounding congratulations is due for PI Dr. Cecilia Contreras Aguirre and co-PI Dr. Luis Rodolfo Garcia Carillo, recipients of a $500,000 NSF award for their project titled "HSI Implementation and Evaluation Project: Latinidad STEM Program." This accomplishment marks the third substantial STEM education/education research endeavor funded by NSF at NMSU for this dynamic team. Dr. Contreras Aguirre's contributions resonate strongly with NMSU's mission and underscore her impact within this burgeoning research domain. Kudos to Cecilia and Luis for a terrific achievement!

Charting the Course for the STEM+ ED Research Institute: Engaging our faculty, we are initiating dialogues within the newly established STEM+ Education Research Institute (SERI) to explore institutional data needs to support SERI research and to envision a streamlined, secure, and comprehensive access framework. Faculty members keen to contribute to this conversation are encouraged to contact Assistant VPR Dr. Tanner Schaub at and the interim SERI co-Directors: Dr. Wanda Bulger-Tamez (, Dr. Patricia Sullivan (, and Dr. Michele Shuster (

Transitions in High-Performance Computing: As Dr. Diana Toups-Dugas embarks on a new and exciting life chapter, we extend our warmest wishes to her and her family. Her invaluable contributions, particularly in fostering and guiding our institutional HPC resource – the Discovery Cluster, have left a lasting mark on NMSU's story. With this transition, we invite our faculty and staff users to share their perspectives guiding the next phase for HPC and research computing at NMSU. To contribute to this pivotal conversation, please get in touch with Assistant VPR Dr. Tanner Schaub at






News from Workforce and Strategic Engagement


By Dr. Patricia Sullivan, Director, Strategic Initiatives

Workforce and Strategic Engagement led a research team to the inaugural Plug Power Clean Energy Summit in Albany, NY.  Research Professor Dr. Zach Stoll and Dr. Sijo Augustine, Post Doc in electrical and computer engineering, presented research on alternative water treatment and fit for purpose reuse, and grid-tied backup storage for renewable energy.  The team also met with other invited university collaborators to discuss creation of a new public-private clean energy research Consortium involving NMSU, UC Irvine, University of Maryland, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Wisconsin Madison.



Research Integrity and Compliance Introduces New Committee Chairs


By Dr. JoAnne Dupre, Director, Research Integrity and Compliance 




The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) welcomes a new chairperson, Dr. Ryan Ashley, Professor of Animal and Range Sciences. Visit the IACUC webpage at for information about protocols, Streamlyne forms, training, and the occupational health and safety program. For questions and assistance, email to or reach out to Dr. Ashley directly.


Dr. Ryan Ashley, NMSU

Additionally, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) welcomes Dr. Kathryn Hanley, Professor of Biology, as chairperson. Dr. Hanley has served as vice chair of the IBC and brings her wealth of experience and subject matter expertise in biological agents and safety to the new process of reviewing IBC protocols in the Streamlyne research administration system. The IBC webpage is located at, and questions can be sent to the email





Dr. Kathryn Hanley, NMSU 

The UAS Remote Identification Requirement


By Dr. Luis Cifuentes (Vice President for Research, Creativity, and Economic Development) and Ms. Polly Wagner (Director, Environmental Health Safety and Risk Management) 

We want to be proactive in meeting an upcoming FAA Federal Regulation related to UAS operations. In September of 2023, all UAS must have UAS Remote Identification (RID

From the FAA: 

All drone pilots required to register their UAS must operate their aircraft in accordance with the final rule on remote ID beginning September 16, 2023, which gives drone owners sufficient time to upgrade their aircraft. 

All NMSU owned and operated UAS must meet this Federal requirement. No exceptions since this is a federal law. 

There are 3 Ways Drone Pilots Can Meet Remote ID Rule

  • RID built into the drone (likely built into the newest drones) 
  • Remote ID capability through module attached to drone (this will apply to all NMSU UAS drones that do not have RID built in!) 
  • Fly in a FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs – likely desired flights by NMSU will not be in these areas) 

Remote ID will be required for any UAS (manufactured or home-built) that requires registration and is operating in the National Airspace System (NAS). 


  • If your drone has RID built in – no action, you are good to fly. 
  • If you have a new or older drone that does not have RID built in, then you will need to purchase and attach a RID module to your aircraft before September 16, 2023

There are multiple RID module options on the market. Modules are small (smaller than a pack of gum), and some requires a monthly subscription cost in addition to the module purchase. EHS&RM does not prescribe what units may be a best fit for you and your UAS or research requirements, just that to be legal, RID must be installed. A RID unit can be used on just one aircraft, or it can be moved around and added flight by flight.   

We want you to know that to continue to fly your UAS, you will need to meet this Federally mandated RID equipage requirement by mid-September. EHS&RM will need to be notified that RID has been arranged for each UAS and will keep track of this. Any unit not properly equipped will be grounded until it meets the FAA standard. 

We thank you all in advance for meeting this requirement for safe and legal UAS operations. For questions, please contact Jerry Fleming, or 575-646-7746.




Recognizing Large Proposal Submitters (July 2023)


By Dr. Hamid Mansouri Rad, Senior Proposal Development Specialist, RAS 

Congratulations to Drs. Sam Fernald, Stephanie Walker, Sherry KollmannMonique Matute-ChavarriaRick Marlatt and Ms. Dana DeRego Catron for each leading a proposal exceeding a million dollars in the month of July.




Dr. Sam Fernald, Director of the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (WRRI), for led a $10 million proposal to the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Sustainable Agricultural Systems program. The proposed project will develop a new Western Water Center of Excellence that aims to produce resilient agricultural systems with less water, balanced surface water and groundwater systems, and resilient community systems that rely on agriculture and water.  Stakeholders of this project include agricultural producers, water policy makers, irrigation districts, as well as federally recognized tribes located in the Humboldt River System in Nevada, the Rio Grande in New Mexico, and the upper Snake River in Wyoming.

Other NMSU key personnel on this five-year proposal include Drs.

  1. Salim Bawazir, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
  2. Holly Brause, Research Scientist, NM WRRI
  3. Barbara Chamberlin, Department Head, Innovative Media Research
  4. Huidae Cho, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering
  5. Dave DuBois, State Climatologist
  6. Richard Heerema, Associate Professor of Extension Plant Sciences
  7. Jay Lillywhite, Assistant Dean, College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences
  8. Connie Maxwell, Research Scientist, NM WRRI
  9. Jorge Preciado, Research Assistant, NM WRRI
  10. Hamid Balali, Post Doctoral Researcher, NM WRRI
  11. Robert Sabie, Research Scientist, NM WRRI

This proposal also involves collaborators from the University of Wyoming, the University of Nevada at Reno, and Boise State University, and the USDA Southwest Climate Hub at Jornada Experimental Range.

For more information about this proposal, please contact Dr. Sam Fernald at



Dr. Sam Fernald, NMSU

Dr. Stephanie Walker, associate professor of Extension Plant Sciences submitted a $9.9 million collaborative proposal to the USDA NIFA program to transform farming practices for labor-intensive fruits and vegetables in arid production areas using a system that combines advanced climate resilient and mechanical harvest technologies to produce crops with minimal irrigation, adverse environmental impacts, and reliance on labor. Other NMSU investigators on this five-year proposal include Drs. Olga Lavrova (Electrical and Computer Engineering), Ivette Guzmán (Plant and Environmental Sciences), Mahdi Haghshenas-Jaryani (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering), and Israel Joukhadar (Extension Plant Sciences), Ciro Velasco-Cruz (Extension Plant Sciences), Alwin Dsouza (Agricultural Economics), Madhav Regmi (Agricultural Economics). In addition, this proposal collaborates with researchers at Colorado State University, Northern New Mexico College, and University of West Florida.

For more information about this proposal please contact Dr. Stephanie Walker at


Dr. Stephanie Walker, NMSU

Dr. Sherry Kollmann, Vice Provost for Digital Learning Initiatives, and Dr. Patricia Sullivan, director of the Office of Workforce and Strategic Engagement submitted a $5.7 million proposal to the Department of Labor’s Building Pathways to Infrastructure Jobs Grant Program. Growing demands for high-tech, high-skilled workers in the US Southwest, including rural communities across New Mexico, offer tremendous opportunities to expand NMSU offerings in partnership with employers and economic development organizations. Dr. Kollmann explains that access and participation in niche-based workforce programs can be enhanced by integrating virtual reality in online, on-demand offerings and by working closely with employers to ensure alignment of skills and knowledge. This proposal, titled Economic Prosperity Accelerator for Novel Workforce Development (EXPAND New Mexico), aims at providing rural areas of the state access to educational programs offered by NMSU. The proposed plans will use NMSU Global, a fully online program established to serve the needs of the adult and post traditional learners of the state and beyond, and the Office of Workforce and Strategic Engagement within the VP for Research, Creativity, and Economic Development, to accomplish the goals of the project.

For more information about this proposal please contact Dr. Sherry Kollmann at


Dr. Sherry Kollmann, NMSU

Drs. Monique Matute-Chavarria, assistant professor of Special Education (PI), Anita Hernandez, co-associate dean for research in the College of HEST and Sarah Wiegand, assistant professor of Special Education (co-PIs) submitted a $1.2 million proposal to the Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. The goal of this proposal is to increase the number of personnel (including those from racially and ethnically diverse backgrounds, personnel who are multilingual, and personnel with disabilities) who are prepared to provide culturally and linguistically responsive effective and equitable instruction, interventions, and services that improve outcomes for infants, toddlers, and their families in New Mexico.

For more information, please contact Dr. Monique Matute-Chavarria at

Dr. Monique Matute-Chavarria,

Ms. Dana DeRego Catron submitted a $1.2 million proposal to the US Economic Development Administration to establish the New Mexico University Center for Regional Commercialization and Resilience. The goal of the University Center is to enhance and foster entrepreneurial cultivation, focused on smaller-sized higher education institutions and rural communities across NM. The proposal leverages current Arrowhead programs such as Studio G to provide comprehensive and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)-cognizant entrepreneurial education and technology commercialization training programming and, facilitate technology commercialization through experiential learning opportunities.

For more information, please contact Ms. DeRego Catron at

Ms. Dana DeRego Catron, NMSU

Congratulations to Dr. Rick Marlatt, the director of the School of Teacher Preparation, Administration, and Leadership for submitting a $1.2 million proposal to the New Mexico Public Education Department. The proposal aims to aims to increase the number of highly qualified Native American teachers, administrators, and school counselors who will join the New Mexico educational workforce and to impact recruitment and retention of professionals who serve in Native American-serving school districts and charter schools.

The proposed program will establish new partnerships with Native American school districts and charter schools across the state of New Mexico and recruit students to join NMSU’s multiple programs to train licensed teachers including the Alternative Licensure Program. This three-year proposal was a collaborative effort between Dr. Marlatt and Dr. Elsa Arroyos, associate professor and the interim department head of the of the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology.

For more information about this proposal, please contact Dr. Marlatt at  


Dr. Rick Marlatt, NMSU

NMSU to Host Reception Study Society Conference in Fall 2023


By Dr. Allison Layfield, Senior Proposal Development Specialist, RAS

NMSU will host the ninth biennial Reception Study Society (RSS) Conference at Corbett Center Student Union and the Marriott Hotel Las Cruces at NMSU September 28-30, 2023. The Reception Study Society promotes scholarship in several related fields: reader-response criticism and pedagogy, reception history, history of reading and the book, audience and communication studies, sociology, media studies, institutional studies, and gender, race, ethnic, sexuality, postcolonial, religious, and other studies. 

Scholars from thirty universities will present on the 2023 conference theme, “Diverse Audiences, Diverse Receptions.” Participating scholars explore the role of audience or fandom in reception studies; what social media reveals about audience behavior and interactions with creators; how writers and creators engage diverse audiences in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and politics; the economics of audiences, publishing, and content creation; adaptations and marketing to specific audiences; and how public reception through book bans, laws and other discourses are shape access to books and media as well as their reception with specific audiences.

Janet Staiger, theorist and film historian (Emeritus Professor at UT Austin) will deliver a plenary talk. Staiger has published twelve books and sixty-three essays that have fundamentally shaped the fields of reception studies and film studies.  

Cedric Burrows (Arizona State University), cultural rhetoric scholar and author of Rhetorical Crossover: Black Presence in White Culture will deliver a plenary talk titled “The Reception of Blackness in Mainstream Culture.” Burrows’ interdisciplinary scholarship integrates music, education, film and social movement studies.

For further details and to register for the conference, visit the Reception Study Society conference page:

Registration closes on September 11.






New Mexico Space Grant Consortium Announces Scholarship and Fellowship Recipients, Celebrates Student Success


By Cristina Esquivel, Program Specialist, NMSGC

New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) is delighted to announce the recipients of the Fall 2023-Spring 2024 Scholarship and Fellowship Program. This program aims to support talented and motivated students at NM academic institutions in their pursuit of higher education and encourage them to achieve their full potential.

After a rigorous selection process, NMSGC proudly congratulates the following NMSU students on being awarded scholarships for the academic year:

  • Maria Alvarez Zavala, Graduate Fellow – Maria is studying to obtain a Ph.D. in Plant and Environmental Science. Her research project will focus on determining ideal algal-microbiome for biomineralization under simulated regolith matter.
  • Jennifer Martinez, Graduate Fellow – Jennifer is studying to obtain a Master’s degree in Experimental Psychology. Her research work entails methods to enhance safety precautions for NASA UAS operations.
  • Cristo Sanchez, Graduate Fellow – Cristo is studying to obtain a Ph.D. in Astronomy. His research project involves measuring the global oscillations and atmospheric dynamics of Jupiter via Jovian seismology.
  • Amanda Stricklan, Graduate Fellow – Amanda is studying to obtain a Ph.D. in Astronomy. Her research will be investigating dynamics of coronal hole jets.
  • Ayla Valles, Graduate Fellow – Ayla is studying to obtain a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering. Her research work will focus on energy-efficient robot locomotion for space exploration.
  • Abd Alrahman Elaksher, Undergraduate Scholar – Abd Alrahman is studying to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering. His research project entails developing solubility phase diagrams for compounds of interest.
  • Isabella Rodriguez, Undergraduate Scholar – Isabella is studying to obtain his Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology. Her research project aims to continue to analyze solar events and input data collected into a database where these events can be properly predicted.

The New Mexico Space Grant Scholarship and Fellowship Program not only recognizes these exceptional students but also acknowledges and celebrates their hard work, dedication, and commitment to their research projects and education. By supporting students through these scholarships and fellowships, we aim to contribute to their success and empower them to make a positive impact in their communities.






Cowboys for Cancer Research: FY2023 Pilot Grant Opportunity


By Ms. Cindy Ramirez, Proposal Development Specialist, RAS

NMSU announces the availability of a pilot project funding opportunity for NMSU faculty and staff through the Cowboys for Cancer Research organization in Las Cruces, NM. The purpose of this grant program is to encourage development of investigator-initiated research projects involving basic, preclinical, clinical, and translational cancer research, and acquisition of specialized instrumentation supporting collaborative cancer research. Please download the application here or email me at

Applications are due on October 30, 2023.  For any questions you can contact: Dr. Jessica P. Houston ( for application/scientific/technical/budget queries and progress reports and me ( for administrative and submission queries.







Limited Submission Funding Opportunities


By Dr. Hamid Mansouri Rad, Senior Proposal Development Specialist, RAS

Research Administration Services maintains a list of limited submission funding opportunities for NMSU research community.  The list is accessible through a link on the Research website, through the Research Administration tab. NMSU users can also access the list directly on SharePoint.  We encourage NMSU researchers to periodically visit the site and if they are interested in any of the opportunities to please inform us by sending email to 


Pivot Funding Opportunity Database


By Dr. Hamid Mansouri Rad, Senior Proposal Development Specialist, RAS

This is a reminder that in order to assist NMSU faculty and staff in locating external funding opportunities, the RCSI has purchased a subscription to ProQuest’s Pivot available at  

To create an account with Pivot for the first time

Click on the Sign up link.DO NOT CREATE A NEW ACCOUNT!
Choose New Mexico State University from the Institution drop down menu.
You will be prompted to log in using your NMSU username and password.
Follow the process for NMSU's 2-Factor Authentication (2FA).

 To request a one-on-one or group Pivot training, send email to



Graduate School

NMSU Receives Nearly $2.5 Million in State Funding for STEM Graduate Scholarships


By Ms. Adriana M. Chávez, Senior Communications Specialist, NMSU Marketing and Communications

The New Mexico Higher Education Department has allocated nearly $2.5 million to fund scholarships for graduate students from New Mexico studying science, technology, engineering or math at New Mexico State University.

The funding, which will be dispersed over three academic years, is part of a $10 million distribution from NMHED to graduate degree-granting state universities in New Mexico for graduate students in a STEM-related program. Eligible students will receive an award amount no greater than $7,200 per academic year.

To be eligible for the scholarships, students must have graduated from a New Mexico high school and enrolled full time in a master’s or doctoral degree program.

“NMSU has a wide array of high-quality STEM graduate programs across our academic colleges, and I know these funds will encourage more of our New Mexico students to pursue their graduate degrees and complete their training in a timely manner,” said Phame Camarena, interim dean of the NMSU Graduate School. “This is great news for both NMSU and the state of New Mexico.”

“New Mexico State University is leading the way with research and innovation that will help us respond to a changing climate, develop a diverse and sustainable economy, and usher in a brighter for future for Southern New Mexico, our state and the entire Southwest,” said New Mexico State Rep. Nathan Small, chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. “These scholarships for graduate students in STEM will help us reduce economic barriers to post-graduate education, while recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest minds to contribute to the exciting work being done at New Mexico’s land-grant institution. To keep our state moving forward, we must continue to look for opportunities to invest in research and innovation and expand support for New Mexico’s graduate students and programs.”

To learn more about the scholarships available at NMSU, visit







NMSU photo by Josh Bachman


Questions and comments regarding NMSU’s Research Digest should be directed to Hamid Mansouri Rad, Ph.D. at, (575) 646-6429.