All Research Highlights

Assistant professor receives prestigious National Science Foundation award

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Growing up in rural Ethiopia, in a village with no running water or electricity, University of New Mexico Assistant Professor Terefe Habteyes says he was always fascinated by light. Now, as a faculty member in UNM’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, his research into the interaction between light and material has earned him one of the most celebrated science awards for junior faculty in the nation.

Habteyes is the recipient of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. The accolade is considered to be one of the most competitive and prominent programs in the country and is designed to help early-career faculty get strong starts in their academic careers.

“I was very excited to hear that we were receiving this award,” said Habteyes, who conducts his research at UNM’s Center for High Technology Materials. “This is an extremely important award for me and my research group. Without this support, our work wouldn’t be able to progress and we wouldn’t have the resources to develop these new techniques.”

Habteyes’ proposal, Near-Field Imaging for Nanoscale Visualization of Exciton-Plasmon Energy Transfer” was awarded $600,000 over five years. The money will help him and his team of graduate and undergraduate researchers continue to develop a new microscopy technique with the potential to revolutionize basic understanding of nanoscale interaction that is relevant for a variety of applications including solar cells, sensing, catalysis, spectroscopy and microscopic imaging.

The CAREER award will also allow Habteyes to reach out into the community and work with local high school students and teachers.

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UNM professor named 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Gabriel P. López, vice president for Research and professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at The University of New Mexico has been named a 2016 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The NAI announced today that it has chosen a cohort of 175 inventors from around the world for election as 2016 NAI Fellows.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.  

With the election of the 2016 class there are now 757 NAI Fellows, representing 229 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. The 2016 Fellows are named inventors on 5,437 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 26,000.

The STC Board of Directors nominated López for the national honor.

“Dr. López was the STC 2016 Innovation Fellow for his achievements in developing a large portfolio of patented biomaterials technologies at UNM that have high economic impact and societal benefit worldwide,” said STC Board Chair Sandra Begay. “He has also developed innovative research programs for faculty and students as the founding director of UNM’s Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBME). The goals of CBME are to improve healthcare and outcomes for New Mexicans and to contribute to the growth of the biotechnology industry in the state of New Mexico by creating biomedical technologies for commercial development and new company formation. We are delighted that Dr. López has received this honor.”

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Interdisciplinary research team brings $1.2 million NSF study to UNM

Monday, 5 December 2016

Roberto Ibarra
Professor  UNM Dept. of Sociology. 

Mario Rivera
Regents' Professor UNM School of Public Administration.

Michael Howland-Davis
Doctoral student , UNM Dept. of Sociology.

Gary Weissmann
Professor  UNM Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

A combination of UNM sociologists, a political scientist and a geologist are conducting innovative academic and evaluative research on one of the most successful science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education alliances in the country. 

University of New Mexico Professors Roberto Ibarra (Sociology) and Gary Weissmann (Earth and Planetary Sciences) with doctoral student Michael Howland-Davis (Sociology) recently launched A Study of Context Diversity in Research and Teaching in the Western Alliance to Expand Student Opportunities/Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (WAESO/LSAMP) Program at Arizona State University. The study, not only funded, but required by the National Science Foundation (NSF), began on Oct. 1, 2016 and explores the impacts of commonly-found disparities between academic contextual culture and that of the student participants at ASU. This is the first time NSF required all LSAMP programs with more than 20 years of funding to include either a social science or education study in their proposals.

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Center for Quantum Information and Control receives multi-million-dollar award

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

New PAIS facility will help Center stay on the cutting edge

Quantum information science is going to change the world. Being able to manipulate and control individual atoms and other microscopic systems to do jobs in communications, sensing and computation will have an impact on nearly every aspect of our daily lives. And, for the University of New Mexico’s Center for Quantum Information & Control (CQuIC), a new multi-million-dollar grant will allow UNM to continue at the forefront of this innovative field.  

“Our particular emphasis is on control of the behavior of quantum systems,” said Carlton Caves, Distinguished Professor of Physics & Astronomy and the Center’s director. “Broadly speaking, we are involved in trying to make systems at the microscopic and nanoscopic level do jobs that we want them to do, instead of just doing what comes naturally.”

Read full story at UNM News

TEM-XRD facilities helping researchers across the state answer big questions

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Microscope facility will be part of new Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science center

Deep inside the basement of Northrop Hall, in The University of New Mexico’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science, sits a high-tech center attracting scientists to UNM from all across the state. The instruments housed there are helping researchers answer questions and gain knowledge about structures invisible to the naked eye.

TEM-XRD is a facility that works primarily in nanoscience – a field that studies extremely small structures and materials usually less than 100 nanometers in size, down to the atomic scale. For reference, a human hair is between 60,000 and 80,000 nanometers wide. So, to be able to see things on this atomic scale, researchers need extremely sensitive equipment.

“We are unique in New Mexico in being the only academic institution that has this sort of facility,” said Adrian Brearley, professor of earth and planetary science and director of the TEM-XRD facility. “These techniques are applicable in everything from earth, environmental and planetary sciences, materials science, particularly high technology materials, metallurgy, chemistry, physics, biological sciences and much more.”

UNM professor developing imaging to save lives after fires

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Physics, Astronomy & Interdisciplinary Science facility will benefit research and students

When fires break out, it’s not always flames that do the only damage – sometimes the scorched earth can cause even more destruction in the form of landslides. That’s why Chris Lippitt, assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at The University of New Mexico, is working on a project that would give emergency management crews state-of-the-art imaging technology to mitigate potential slides before they happen.

Lippitt and his research group, GIScience for Environmental Management (GEM), are working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Albuquerque District and the New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol on a device that attaches to airplanes and collects detailed three-dimensional images of canyons and washes to determine which areas are most likely to slide.

Read full story at UNM News

Medieval Manuscript Seminar attracts students from across the country

Monday, 27 June 2016

Students gain hands-on experience with replica manuscripts

For about a month every other year, graduate students from across the United States come to The University of New Mexico to learn about thousand-year-old manuscripts from the other side of the world. The class, Paleography & Codicology: A Seminar in Medieval Manuscript Studies, offers students a rare opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge from an internationally recognized expert on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
“There are very few places in North America that offer this kind of training in manuscript studies to graduate students,” said Timothy Graham, professor in UNM’s Department of History and the seminar’s instructor. “The main reason for that is because most professors in medieval literature or medieval history, in North America, have not had a chance to work first hand with these kinds of materials for any extended period of time.” Professor Timothy Graham UNM Professor Timothy Graham's biennial seminar on medieval manuscripts is one of only a few like it in North America.
And that’s exactly the kind of expertise Graham brings to the Southwest after holding a research position at the University of Cambridge in his home country of England before moving to the U.S. in 1995. The biennial seminar is one of only about a half dozen like it offered in North America, according to Graham. Its rarity attracts top-ranked graduate students from institutions like UNM, Yale University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Missouri, Arizona State University and the University of Oregon, just to name a few.

Read full story at UNM News

UNM part of team bidding to manage Sandia National Laboratories: Battelle, The Boeing Company, Texas A&M University System and University of Texas System

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The University of New Mexico is a member of a team that has signed a formal agreement to bid jointly to manage Albuquerque-based Sandia National Laboratories.

The announcement was made today at a press conference at UNM.

UNM is a member of the team led by Battelle and The Boeing Company, along with The Texas A&M University System and the University of Texas System.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has initiated a competition for the contract to manage and operate Sandia National Laboratories, which also has a laboratory in Livermore, California. Sandia is a federally-funded research and development center responsible for non-nuclear engineering development of all U.S. nuclear weapons and for systems integration of the nuclear weapons with their delivery vehicles.

A contract decision is anticipated by the end of this year.

UNM alum headed to Africa for Fulbright research

Saturday, 21 May 2016

“There’s something about being in a different environment, outside of your comfort zone, to realize the humanity in everyone. And I think that’s very important.” - Maureen Meyer

Traveling to a faraway continent isn’t something every child dreams about. But, for University of New Mexico alumna Maureen Meyer, Africa has always held a special place in her heart and mind. Now, thanks to the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, that childhood dream will soon become reality.

“I have wanted to go to the continent of Africa since I was a little girl, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen,” said Meyer. “Now, as my research focuses on understanding the relationship that cultures have with their environment, specifically looking at medicinal plants and cultural perceptions of healing, the opportunity has arisen and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Meyer graduated from UNM in 2014 with a Master’s of Science in Geography. Her research focuses on ethnobotany, the study of the relationship between people and plants. She said her interests lie in how cultures use plants medicinally, particularly focusing on Africa and the African Diaspora.