Project Highlights

Taking Climate Research to Earth Day

Amanda White at Earth Day

Earth Day celebrations in Taos and Las Cruces were perfect venues for New Mexico researchers to use hands-on demonstrations to discuss their work in climate science to members of the public. This NSF sponsored research focuses on global climate change impacts on New Mexico’s mountain sources of water. A key component of the project is to provide information to the state’s population to contribute to a citizenry that is informed about climate change and its impacts in New Mexico. Having a wellinformed populace is critical for this research project to achieve one of its goals—transforming policymaking in New Mexico by providing tools needed for science-driven water policy decisions. The project also contributes to the state’s future...

New Mexico is making real- time contributions to assist in the management of climatic issues


NSF EPSCoR-funded research scientists at New Mexico State University (NMSU) have installed ecological monitoring equipment at four sites in New Mexico. The monitoring equipment contributes data to the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The sites began operation in 2010 and are part of the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN). SCAN consists of automated remote sites which collect soil moisture and soil temperature data along with precipitation, wind, and solar radiation data. The data collected is used for the prediction and management of climatic issues. New Mexico now has a greater opportunity to significantly contribute to a nationwide cooperative of environmental information systems. SCAN data is accessible through the...

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

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

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.


Water Quality Research: Rio Hondo

The Rio Hondo flows from the Taos Ski Valley in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains for about 20 miles where it meets the Rio Grande, and is one of NM EPSCoR’s primary research sites, with the Jemez River and the Rio Chama. Scientists and researchers from NMSU and NM Tech use state-of-the-art technology to study the interactions between groundwater and surface water to help determine water quality and water quantity. New Mexico EPSCoR researchers from New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech traveled to one area of the Rio Hondo in Arroyo Hondo, NM to examine the water temperature and quality. Sam Fernald (NMSU), Carlos Ochoa (NMSU) and Jevon Harding (NMT) were just a few of those participating. One of the main purposes for the trip...

2010-2011 Supercomputing Challenge

It has been another successful year for the Supercomputing Challenge, an NM EPSCoR education outreach partner. Open to all students in New Mexico schools, grades 6-12, the Supercomputing Challenge supports further development of the human component of New Mexico’s cyberinfrastructure, the focus of the EPSCoR Tri-State Western Consortium project. Participation is offered at minimal cost to students or the school district through funding by sponsors, including NM EPSCoR. Last year’s winner was a team from Melrose, NM, and senior team member Richard Rush credits his scholarship to Harvard University in part to winning the Challenge. “Winning helped me advance my plans to go college,” he said at this year’s kickoff. In fact, his future...

Degrees of Change: New Mexico's Climate Forecast

NM EPSCoR funded the design, fabrication, and installation of a new exhibit focusing on climate change in New Mexico called “Degrees of Change: New Mexico’s Climate Forecast.” Jessica Sapunar-Jursich, Director of Education at the Museum, spearheads the project with Dr. Dave Gutzler as the EPSCoR-funded guest curator on the project. Dr. Gutzler is a climatologist faculty member with the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico. A central feature is a global representation of climate data using a Global Imagination "Magic Planet". Data and discoveries from NM EPSCoR scientists contribute to data in a New Mexico SIM table, which displays current climate conditions of New Mexico and can predict future...

Hydrologic Systems Models

Work continued on the development of new conceptual and mathematical models that describe how dynamically changing flow conditions influence the distribution of residence times in hydrologic systems. This work is motivated by the use of natural and manmade tracers (e.g., isotopes) to understand the circulation of water in hydrologic systems and its sensitivity to climate variability and change, and to understand related biogeochemical processes. Models were developed for small-scale (1-100 m) hyporheic exchange and larger scale (1-100 km) basin flows, and demonstrated for dynamic flows ranging from individual storm events up to seasonal, decadal, and longer time scales. Talks were given at several national meetings, including the annual...

Acequia Interdisciplinary Research

Funded by the National Science Foundation, part of the New Mexico EPSCoR program focuses on acequia interdisciplinary research conducted by the University of New Mexico (UNM) and New Mexico State University (NMSU) in partnership with the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA). The NMAA is the main force that advocates for the needs of community based irrigation systems known as "acequias" (ah-SAY-key-ahs) or ditches. These acequias are unique to New Mexico and southern Colorado having endured more than four centuries of change in the region dating to Spanish colonial settlement history.

In the New Mexico EPSCoR project, researchers are studying how these ancient irrigation canals function as communal water management systems that...

Tri-State Consortium Graduate Class

Interdisciplinary Modeling Class 2011


Along with collaboration between the three Western Consortium institutions, this class focused on models that are available in several disciplines, allowing students to recognize the advantages and limitations of modeling.


The Western Tri-State Consortium sponsored a graduate level class in the Summer of 2010 called Interdisciplinary Modeling: Water-Related Issues and Changing Climate. The Western Tri-State Consortium, comprised of Nevada EPSCoR, Idaho EPSCoR, and New Mexico EPSCoR, offered the class at the University of Nevada, Reno from July 12 to July 30. Faculty from Idaho, Nevada and New Mexico, including Dr. Alexander Fernald from NMSU, organized the class. New Mexico also...

2011 Junior Faculty Leadership Workshop

2011 JFLW Participants


Participants agree, just as in previous JFL workshops, that this three-day workshop is especially useful for learning new skills such as organization, time management, and practical uses of money, time, and knowledge. One participant said, “This workshop is probably the most useful program I have attended over my career.”


The third annual NM EPSCoR Junior Faculty Leadership workshop continued a track record of success with participants providing enthusiastic praise for the event. The three-day workshop, January 4-6, 2011, focused on improving the communication skills and productivity of new faculty and advanced post-doc scholars. This year’s agenda continued and expanded the highly...

Sandia Mountain Natural History Center


The Center and its staff educate New Mexico students about ecology, ecosystems, the environment and conservation. The Center also hosts teacher workshops on science and ecology.


The Sandia Mountain Natural History Center (SMNHC) is a beautiful 128-acre piece of pinon-juniper forest owned by the Albuquerque Public School System, and run by the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNHS). As part of New Mexico EPSCoR’s education goal to reach a large and diverse population in both urban and rural areas, funding was provided to the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center for extra staff to give tours to school groups interested in the Ecology Field Programs. SMNHC employee...

Water Quality & The Las Conchas Fire


Climate change manifests itself in major changes to the terrestrial landscape of New Mexico. The New Mexico EPSCoR project is providing a very detailed picture of the effects of a major forest fire on the water quality, hydrology, and ecology of an important source of freshwater for the State of New Mexico. Continuous monitoring is critical to describe the timing and magnitude of and the controls on these highly variable parameters. Better understanding of controls on water quality variability can help management in the face of climate change.


One component of the current New Mexico EPSCoR project is the effect of climate change on water quality in the forested mountain catchments of...

1st Annual Tri-State Consortium Cyberlearning Summit


CL leaders from each state contributed to a proposal to NSF’s Cyberlearning: Transforming Education program that would support development of a research program. During the summit, it became clear that the programs developed individually were synergistic and would likely provide even more effective learning opportunities for students by incorporating components across projects.


A group of EPSCoR collaborators from New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho joined together in Jemez Springs to discuss cyberlearning activities, programs, and materials that have been developed with support from the NSF EPSCoR Track 2 award. One component of the Western Tri-State Consortium (Track 2) of NV, NM and ID...

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