September 2020


Welcome New Faculty Members!

By Luis Cifuentes, Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate School



A hearty welcome to all our new faculty and specially to our assistant professors who have blessed us by choosing NMSU to start your academic careers.  Thank you for taking the time to read the monthly Research and Graduate School Digest.  For September, I have adapted an article I published in Empowering Diversity Leaders Proceedings of the 2017 Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate National Forum.   

More than twenty-eight years in higher education have taught me the value of being positive and taking advantage of all opportunities—change is constant and adaptation is a critical skill. Finding and cultivating a supportive network; knowing how teaching, research, and service were valued and evaluated in my institution; and learning self-awareness of my strengths and weaknesses were keys to my success. These keys not only served me in reaching full professor through tenure and promotion; they have also guided me through a productive career in higher education administration.

My personal, educational, and professional life has been one of sharp contrasts. I began my youth in Latin America; living in Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile, and Guatemala. When I was 10 years of age, my family settled in the Washington, D.C., area. I attended a private, east coast liberal arts college; completed graduate study at a public research university; and served in a postdoctoral fellowship at a world-class research institute in my discipline. The sharp contrasts experienced among Latin American cultures and the culture of the United States taught me the cultural humility required to navigate the different academic cultures I encountered among and within the universities I have served.

Taking stock of my graduate school and postdoctoral fellowship experiences, it was critical that I took advantage of opportunities, some more obvious than others. For example, I began my Master of Science degree with a study of clay particle flocculation along the salinity gradient while at the College of Marine Studies at the University of Delaware. My eventual master’s and doctoral theses advisor, Dr. Jonathan Sharp, noted my lack of enthusiasm for that project and offered me the option to address a carbon and nitrogen cycling study that aligned better with my analytical chemistry background and interests, but was not as well-funded. It was difficult for me to disappoint my initial advisor and lose long-term funding. However, moving to an area of study that excited and energized me was a critical early decision in my career.

During the early stages of my PhD studies, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Thomas Hoering, a distinguished organic geochemist at the  Geophysical Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Dr. Kenneth Mopper, a member of my dissertation committee, offered to take me with him and learn more about the exciting high-performance liquid chromatographic techniques Dr. Hoering and his colleague, Dr. Ed Hare, developed to measure amino acids. I came very close to passing on the opportunity, but changed my mind at the last minute. That decision ultimately led to a Predoctoral Fellowship and later a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Geophysical Laboratory; which, without a doubt, led me down the path to career success.

Perusing job advertisements in Nature and Science magazines and Eos, the magazine published by the American Geophysical Union, was a weekly event that I shared with my postdoctoral advisor, Dr. Marilyn Fogel. When the assistant professor position in chemical oceanography opened at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, Dr. Fogel asked if I planned to apply. Not having traveled further west than Western Maryland, I impulsively answered, “there is no way that I will move to Texas.” Dr. Fogel, though not much older than me, was much the wiser and responded, “Luis, you will apply to every open position that fits, if the job is offered then you may choose not to move there and decline.” Fortunately, I listened to her sage advice, and gained a great appreciation for Texas A&M University, College Station, and Texas. I would not presume to suggest that anyone else respond as I did to the culture “shock” of moving from Washington, DC, to College Station, Texas. I would; however, caution all who look to a career in higher education that the job market, at present, will rarely land one at the geographical region of choice— learn to bloom where you are planted.

I was woefully ignorant of the promotion and tenure (P&T) process when I arrived at Texas A&M University. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the P&T process was not as well documented, explained, and supervised as it is today. Following the counsel of a senior faculty mentor, I leveraged the network and gravitas of the Geophysical Laboratory to develop an internal and external network of colleagues that enabled me to find research funding for exciting and relevant projects. This network led to peer-reviewed publications, published abstracts and presentations that stood up to the P&T criteria of my department, college and university.

I served as the chair of the University Tenure and Promotion Committee at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and advise new faculty to be assertive, to ask their department chair and dean to review in detail all relevant P&T documents, and to insist on an annual assessment of progress to tenure and/or promotions.

Reviewing my path to tenure, I recall at least five decisive moments that, had I made a different choice, could likely have resulted in denial of tenure. For example, my first NSF funded project was to use nitrogen isotope ratios as a tracer of bacterial nitrogen sources in estuarine and coastal waters. More than halfway through the project timeline, I spoke with the program manager who remarked that he was disappointed in the results to date from his investment in nitrogen isotope studies. Although he complimented my program, I understood the possibility that support of nitrogen isotopes was in jeopardy and resourced my laboratory to focus more on carbon isotope applications. More and more, higher education careers require changes in research and scholarly direction, which are uncomfortable but necessary to navigate.

Finally, the tenure and promotion process is not devoid of politics. I have served at Texas A&M University, a globally recognized Tier I university that, at that time, had an enrollment near 50,000 students; at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, a Hispanic Serving Institution with 12,000 students, significant first generation enrollment, military-friendly school designation, and aspirations to be an emerging research university; and now at New Mexico State University. These distinct institutions have different shared governance cultures and different tenure and promotion expectations. Distinguish yourself by taking the time to understand the dynamics of your department, college, and university and “make your own luck.”




The "100 in October Challenge"

By Phillip De Leon, Associate VP for Research


The Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate School is keenly aware of the challenges faculty face at the start of the new academic year and especially this particular year. The OVPR stands ready to support proposal development and writing efforts. In July, NMSU submitted a monthly record of 92 proposals. Congratulations to all those who submitted proposals seeking funding for their research and creative activity!

The OVPR is targeting submission of 100 proposals in October. To achieve this goal, OVPR is offering an incentive to submit a proposal: $250 stipend in addition to up to $1000 in Indirect Cost (IDC) generated from an award for each PI/co-PI on proposal. Multiple individuals may collaborate and submit the proposal as PI or co-PI. Limit of 1 stipend per person deposited in an unrestricted account. Proposal budget should be in excess of $5000 x [number of PI(s) + number of co-PI(s)].

For more information please visit  






By Michelle Gavin, Research Integrity Coordinator, RIC


The NMSU Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance (RIC) welcome NMSU faculty, staff, and students to Fall 2020.  The IRB Committee and RIC staff are excited about all the great research that's being done here at NMSU and are here to help researchers comply with federal, state and institutional regulations to ensure safety and projection of human subjects involved in Research!  

It's been an eventful and challenging time but the IRB continues to support the research community while ensuring the protection of human subject participants.  

Recent highlights of the IRB:

  • ​Since the last IRB Committee Meeting in May, the IRB has approved over 150 IRB applications while processing another 50+ final reports and returned IRBs and has welcomed over 70 new users. 
  • The IRB Committee recently appointed 7 new members to its committee to help with the increasing IRB submissions while bringing unique expertise to the team.
  • Last week the IRB and the Maestro Review System reached a milestone of having over 6,000 IRB submissions since its launch in February 2013.  
  • Over the summer we completed analysis of the 1st IRB Customer Satisfaction Survey and have identified key areas that the committee and compliance office will be focusing on to incorporate new and improved changes to the IRB process and to the Maestro system.  The first focus will be on improving the function and access of information on the compliance IRB website as well as identifying important changes to the Maestro IRB forms and flow of information.  We hope you will like the changes you see.  Here are some helpful resources to help you with the IRB process and using the Maestro Review System.

If you have questions or need assistance, the IRB and the compliance office staff are here to help.  We have incorporated zoom meetings with researchers to help answer questions and discuss their specific research projects and how to ensure protection of human subject participants.  If you need help, we're just a phone call 575-646-7177 or email ​ away.


Michelle Gavin, Research Integrity and Compliance, NMSU

NASA Awards New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) A Cooperative Agreement for a Program-Level Independent Evaluation Opportunity

By Paulo Oemig, Director, NM NASA EPSCoR/NM Space Grant Consortium, Administrative Principal Investigator


New Mexico Space Grant Consortium (NMSGC) is one of two consortia selected by NASA Office of STEM Engagement to conduct a pilot independent program-level evaluation project. The project, titled “Impact on underrepresented minorities: A scalable independent evaluation framework for the Space Grant Program,” will be representative of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program offerings across multiple states that can be scaled to assess the entire Space Grant Program.

The purpose of this independent program-level impact evaluation is to 1) determine how and to what extent the Space Grant Program is designed and executed in alignment with federal law and NASA's STEM engagement goals and priorities; and 2) assess the impact and degree to which the Space Grant Program is achieving its intended outputs and outcomes on a national level. These efforts will provide Space Grant Program Management with robust evidence that can be used to drive future scaled evaluation strategy, program policy, data collection plans, and appropriated competitive awards. The project will contribute toward a new architecture designed to enable relevant student contributions to NASA’s mission and work, driven by requirements from NASA’s Mission Directorates.

Dr. Rachel Boren, Director of the Southwest Outreach Academic Research (SOAR) Evaluation and Policy Center, will serve as the Independent Evaluator. The award is for $175,000 for a two-year period of performance.

Dr. Paulo Oemig, NMSGC,

NMSU Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate Wins Prestigious Psi Chi Graduate Research Grant 

By Hamid Mansouri Rad, Sr. Proposal Development Specialist, RAS

Congratulations to Cory J. Cascalheira, Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate in the College of Education. This summer Cory managed to secure a Psi Chi Graduate Research Grant which he intends to use to recruit participants across the United States for a preregistered, open data, and open materials project on transgender discrimination and mental health. “After attending workshops led by RAS Proposal Development Specialist Chong-Hwey Fee at the Teaching Academy and Linda Braxton within the College of Education, I felt inspired to apply for this grant,” he states. Cory wrote the proposal in his research methods class, taught by Dr. Na-Yeun Choi, who provided him feedback. He also recognizes the support he received from his research cohort and fellow graduate students Olivia Dorn, Ellen Ijebor, Coco Wang, and Angie Wusler; as well as the trans-identified community members.

“I feel tremendous gratitude for everyone who assisted me with this important project, Dr. Rachel Boren for providing me access to REDCap and especially my advisor Dr. Tracie Hitter for her support and letter of recommendation for this grant,” Cory adds.

It is noteworthy to mention that Cory was notified this week that he also won the Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award, a $500 grant that he intends to use to support his research on sexuality and trauma among people who identify as members of the BDSM community. This grant is not research-specific, but is an important grant for graduate students because it can be used to fund a variety of expenses, including travel or equipment. Cory aims to use funds to attract participants and to support an undergraduate research assistant to transcribe Cory’s research team's audio interviews.

For more information, please contact Cory at

Cory J. Cascalheria, Counseling Psychology Doctoral Candidate, NMSU


Research Administration Spotlight: Cynthia Ramirez

By Hamid Mansouri Rad, Sr. Proposal Development Specialist, RAS


Proposal development specialists (PDS) at Research Administration Services (RAS) assist NMSU faculty and researchers in development of their proposals at various stages. Ms. Cindy Ramirez is one of the PDS’s at RAS who supports NMSU community with their proposals. Cindy joined NMSU for the second time in January of 2017. She worked at NMSU from 2000 to 2003 as a program coordinator in the College of Agricultural Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES), serving as the program manager of a joint project with Texas A&M University, funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Working on that project allowed her to be part of both Texas and New Mexico Extension Services engaging school districts in both states. She also conducted recruiting for ACES and taught an introductory agriculture course in that college. She then joined University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) where she was a program manager for many programs for a total of 13 years.  She managed UTEP’s HHMI, NIH MARC, NIH RISE, NSF GK-12, and Teachers for a New Era program funded by Carnegie Foundation, providing her with the opportunity to work with two provosts and faculty in the Colleges of Education and Science. She, then, joined Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso as a Research Administrator before coming back home to NMSU/RAS in 2017.

In addition to assisting faculty with their proposals, Cindy offers workshops on how to prepare budget for proposals and manages the Principal Investigator (PI) Academy. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate School, the PI Academy engages the participants in the culture of sponsored research through interactions with experienced faculty, proposal development specialists and meetings with grant program officers.

Cindy’s broad range of experiences crosses all aspects of pre and post award services, making her an asset at RAS. “If I want to offer one advice to researchers submitting proposals it would be completely reading and understanding the request for proposals they are responding to,” she states. 

 Cindy’s hobbies include running and being in the outdoors, but she spends most of her time with her family and being busy with her daughter in the 4-H program, and now as she enters high school this will also include the FFA program. “I sincerely appreciate what faculty do and am truly happy to be of assistance to them, especially here at NMSU” she adds.

Cindy Ramirez can be reached at

Cindy Ramirez,
Research Administration Services

Webinar on Health Disparities Research

By Hamid Mansouri Rad, Senior Proposal Development Specialist, RAS


Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Associate Professor of Public Health in the College of Health and Social Services will offer a webinar on September 25, from 11:00am to 12:00noon discussing topics related to health disparities research. 

Titled, "Shifting Programmatic and Research Agendas from a Health Disparities Model to a Health Equity Model," this presentation will describe a national research and programmatic agenda that is shifting from a problem focused model (for example, sole focus on health disparities) to one that is solution focused (for example, calling for strategies to eliminate health disparities).  With the ultimate goal of attaining health equity, or the highest level of health for all people, federal agencies are calling for evidence-based solutions to health disparities that are driven by social, economic, and environmental factors.  The presentation will describe how shifting to a health equity model calls for integrative and multidisciplinary research, community partnerships, and training and enhancing skills in the workforce. 

To register for the workshop please send email to

Dr. Palacios could be reached at



Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Associate
Professor of Public Health, NMSU

NMSU Principal Investigator (PI) Academy Class of 2020-21 Goes Online

By Cindy Ramirez, Proposal Development Specialist, RAS


The non-traditional route will allow the academy to welcome and invite all new faculty to participate in this year's class.
The NMSU PI Academy will host 8 online sessions beginning in September with principal investigator training. The PI Academy tradition of travel to Washington D.C. in May will not occur, but all faculty who actively participate in ALL the 8 online sessions will receive a stipend.

We welcome all new faculty to NMSU and look forward to having you as part of the Academy!

For more information send email to



NASA Invites NMSU Team to Submit Full Proposal for a University Leadership Initiative (ULI) Program

By Paulo Oemig, Director NM Space Grant Consortium/NM NASA EPSCoR

NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) selected Dr. Liang Sun’s first step-A proposal, titled “Energy-Aware Autonomy for Safe and Sustainable Operation of Electric Aerial Vehicles,” for continuation onto a second step-B full proposal submission. This highly competitive two-step proposal research opportunity in aeronautics is part of the University Leadership Initiative (ULI) Program under ARMD and only selected step-A proposals are invited to submit full proposals. Dr. Liang Sun, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, is addressing ULI’s Topic 1: “Safe and efficient growth in global operations” in relation to electric aerial vehicles (EAV) trajectories and energy consumption. The multi-disciplinary team represents, among others, expertise in artificial intelligence, machine learning, real-time optimization, and power systems and operation. Selected step-B proposals will be funded at a range of $1-2 million per year for a 3-4 years period of performance. Best of luck to Dr. Sun and team.​ 


Dr. Liang Sun, Assistant Professor of Mechnical Engineering , NMSU

Pivot Funding Opportunity Database


This is a reminder that in order to assist NMSU faculty and staff in locating external funding opportunities, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Dean of Graduate School has purchased a subscription to ProQuest’s Pivot software available at

To create an account with Pivot for the first time

  1. Click on the Sign up link.
  2. On the next page, click on Use email address/create password.
  3. Enter your name.
  4. Enter your NMSU email address.
  5. Create a password.
  6. Choose New Mexico State University from the Affiliated Member Institution drop down menu.
  7. Check the consent checkbox.
  8. Check the reCaptcha check box.
  9. Press the Create my account button.

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



Limited Submission Funding Opportunities


The Office of Research Administration Services lists limited submission funding opportunities at We encourage NMSU faculty and staff to periodically visit the site and if they are interested in any of the opportunities to please inform us by sending email to As a reminder, the site is only accessible on campus. Accessing the site using off-campus computers require first downloading and logging in through NMSU's VPN at



Graduate School

Welcome Graduate Students!

By Luis A. Vazquez, Regents Professor and Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies


Graduate students, especially Teaching assistants, Graduate assistants and Research assistants have asked if the Graduate School will be providing face masks for the graduate students.  We are happy to inform you that the Graduate School has purchased cotton adjustable face masks for graduate students.  The masks are washable and reusable masks.  These masks are available at the Graduate School.  Please bring your ID in order to receive your mask.  The masks are free to you.  We are located in the Educational Services Building (to the right of the Pan Am Center) We look forward to seeing you.

It’s a new dawn at NMSU and the Graduate School is excited that graduate students made NMSU their university of choice for graduate education.  The Graduate School has developed an online Canvas orientation for all new graduate students to participate in with several modules that will give you comprehensive information regarding all you will need to know to be successful at NMSU.  Once you have received your invitation to the orientation as a new graduate student, log on and learn all you can about NMSU and all the resources available for you to support your success in graduate school.  Remember by participating and completing the canvas orientation, you will automatically be entered for the raffle drawing for the possibility of being selected for one of the $500 scholarships.  The Graduate School wants you to make this one of your best years ever at NMSU.  In addition, for this newsletter we are including the most frequently asked questions and websites regarding Graduate School forms, graduation questions, well-being and COVID-19 information for all new and continuing graduate students.  We look forward to working together with all of you in a shared sense of responsibility and accountability to ensure a safe and resourceful year at NMSU. 


New Graduate Student Orientation through Canvas

New graduate student orientation is accessible through Canvas. Please logon to Canvas with your NMSU credentials.  The invitation to the course will be towards the top of your screen. Accept the invitation and you will have access to the course materials. If you do not see an invitation to the course: Email Completion of the Course and Course Survey will enter your name in a raffle drawing. Four Scholarships at $500 each.

Goodluck, Congratulations, and Welcome to NMSU!


Frequently Asked Questions


Question: Where do I find exam forms?


Question: Where do I find due dates/deadline?


Question: Does the Graduate School accept digitally completed forms?

Answer: Graduate School will be accepting digitally completed forms from official NMSU email addresses. The forms need to be signed off on and complete, but the signatures can be digital. They also can be scanned and emailed, if signed in paper format. Please route the exam forms (scheduling exams to take place) to . Please route Exam Results, Programs of Study, Transfer Credit Request forms, Master’s Accelerated Forms, Degree Audit Exception forms, and Change of Admission Semester Forms to


Question: Can I get electronic signatures for my thesis/dissertation defense form and the signature page on the document?

Answer: Yes, all of our forms can be electronically signed. Exam paperwork needs to be signed and submitted to . Program of studies need to be filled out, signed and sent to . Exam results need to be signed and submitted to .

Question: Can I defend my dissertation or thesis virtually?

Answer: As you know, we are in the midst of a very challenging and fluid situation as the University responds to the coronavirus pandemic. We are also mindful that it is “defense season,” and many students are planning both defenses and public presentations of their dissertation and thesis work. We are making every effort to have defenses and presentations be done remotely to accommodate student’s needs and safety.

Question: How do I prepare my manuscript for submission?

Answer: When submitting a page-based manuscript of your dissertation or thesis, it must be submitted to ProQuest Dissertation Publishing in Adobe PDF format. When preparing your PDF, follow the guidelines on the following link:


Question:  I am feeling very overwhelmed by the COVID-19 situation. What resources are available to me as a graduate student?

Answer: COVID-19 has brought on new challenges and complexity into our lives. This is stressful. Stress can manifest differently in all of us: physically (e.g., upset stomach), psychologically (e.g., anxiety, depression), or behaviorally (e.g., substance abuse). Support and resources continue to be available at NMSU and in the community. The counseling staff and health providers on campus can help you cope and get on a healthy path. They can also give you referrals to other programs. The Health and Wellness Center remains open to support students and employees. It is advised that you telephone before visiting the Health and Wellness Center to schedule an appointment by calling 575-646-1512. When visiting the Health and Wellness Center expect to receive an initial screening before being able to enter the building. Counseling is available through tele-counseling services. Schedule an appointment by calling 575-646-1512 or emailing at . Please visit  for additional information.

Question: I’m not sure I can afford or find adequate food/nutrition options during this time. What can I do?

Answer: Adequate nutrition is important to maintaining physical and mental health. If you are facing food insecurity, the Aggies Cupboard (located on 906 Gregg St) Food will be distributed Food will be distributed Thursdays from 3pm – 6pm and Tuesdays from 11 am – 1:30 pm on the yard of the Aggie Cupboard. Clients should be ready to state their banner ID. All food boxes are pre- made with either chicken, tuna, or peanut butter. Clients waiting to collect should remain 6 feet from each other in the order they arrive. Red tape is on the ground to identify where to stand. A ‘drive-up’ area is also available. All clients must be wearing a mask to enter the Aggie Cupboard. If you are sick or have come into contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 please stay at home.

Please check the Aggie Cupboard website for updates on available supplies and hours of operation. Additionally, a Mobile Food Pantry has prepared special food packs with essentials. Students must bring their NMSU ID and a box/rolling cart to carry up t0 70lbs of perishable food. Registration takes place from 12:00-12:30 and distribution is from 12:30-2:30. The Mobile Food Pantry is located SW corner of Preciado Park (Gregg St. and Sweet Ave.) Please visit for additional information.



Coronavirus Information

To view NMSU's communications regarding the Coronavirus visit: 


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