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Faculty successes

$1 million USDA grant supports program for minority students

NMSU is transforming the educational experience for underrepresented minority students through an innovative, cross-campus collaboration funded by a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture – the research, education and economics arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The four-year project, known as “Enhancing Hispanic Access to Natural Resource and Agricultural Careers through Education, Mentorship and Training,” or “ENHANCEMENT,” works to recruit, retain and prepare underrepresented minorities for educational and work opportunities in the natural resource and agriculture fields.

Alvaro Romero, associate professor of urban entomology, leads a faculty team that identifies minority students from NMSU’s branch campuses and prepares them to transfer into a four-year degree program. These students receive faculty-supervised mentoring from graduate students and gain research experience. Romero and others recruited the first cohort during the spring 2021 semester.

“ENHANCEMENT” also provides graduate assistantships and connects students to internships, professional development opportunities and spot-hiring events with USDA agencies.

Carlos Andres López ’10

NSF grant supports high-performance computing across state

A $400,000 National Science Foundation grant is helping NMSU change the landscape for high-performance computing throughout New Mexico during the next two years.

High-performance computers can crunch numbers for complex problems such as in artificial intelligence, genetics, economics or ecology, and knowing how to operate HPCs is a highly sought-after skill.

NMSU’s HPC Team includes a group of graduate students, HPC administrators and Diana V. Dugas, principal investigator of the grant and NMSU’s director of instruction and research support, who work together to support the system and its users across the state.

“The grant will give students access to HPC resources, independent of what institution they attend in New Mexico,” Dugas says. “The school or college doesn’t need to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their own HPC in order for their students to gain the knowledge and skills that will make them highly competitive for graduate school or the workplace.”

Minerva Baumann ’13

Shukla receives national Fellow designation

Manoj Shukla, environment soil physics professor, was nominated and elected as a 2020 Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America, in recognition of his contributions and achievement in research of soil, water and plant processes.

“I am honored to receive this designation that is the highest recognition bestowed by the society,” he says.

Shukla, who joined the NMSU faculty in 2005, was recognized during the Soil Science Society of America Hall of Fame program during its annual meeting in November 2020 in Phoenix, Arizona.

As the recipient of the Nakayama Research Excellence Professorship for the past six years, Shukla provides research leadership, including as chair of two Western multi-state research projects. His research focus is assessing and modeling the impact of abiotic stresses caused by brackish groundwater irrigation on soil, plants and microbial communities, as well as modeling water, nitrate and energy transport through soil-plant-atmosphere continuum.

Jane Moorman