Cross-Institution Collaboration, Water Quality Research, and Workforce Development

NM EPSCoR, funded by the National Science Foundation, has a commitment to cross-institution collaboration and workforce development, and fulfills that commitment through research in topics such as climate science and water quality. The focus of much of NM EPSCoR research in Year 2 has been hydrology at the Valles Caldera National Pre¬serve (VCNP). Faculty, Post Docs, graduate students, and undergraduate students from various higher education insti¬tutions around the state have collaborated to perform research and contribute to the scientific effort. Some of the institutions include the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State, New Mexico Tech, Diné College, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands, and Navajo Tech.

Researchers have deployed multiple instruments to collect data about water quality and chemistry, including a new Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) system, in which a 1 km long fiber optic cable was laid in the bed of the East Fork of the Jemez River (within the VCNP). Undergraduate students in the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and New Mexico Tech graduate students deployed the DTS. Distributed temperature sensing is a powerful tool that can provide monitoring data necessary for validating climate and other environmental models. Students and researchers also installed over 30 wells to gather data from groundwater, installed and monitored several sondes in the Jemez River, and conducted various experiments to determine subsurface flowpaths, including tracer tests and water level measurements.

Source: Natalie Willoughby, NM EPSCoR, University of New Mexico
Image provided by: Natalie Willoughby,

Lauren Sherson (UNM), Jesus Gomez (NMT) and Seth Crank (Navajo Tech) check data.