Kelly Trujillo Named New ARMAS Director

August 7, 2019

Photo of Kelly Trujillo, new director of ARMAS at Highlands

Kelly Trujillo, new director of ARMAS at Highlands University

Las Vegas, N.M. – Kelly Trujillo is the new director for the Achieving in Research, Math and Science Center (ARMAS) at New Mexico Highlands University.

The nationally acclaimed ARMAS Center provides comprehensive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) support services to students.

“My whole career has been about mentoring, whether it’s in a laboratory setting or a classroom,” Trujillo said. “I see highly successful tiers of mentoring at ARMAS, which are always fantastic learning opportunities. Mentoring is about building personal relationships that go well beyond the classroom.”

Trujillo said that it’s very rewarding for a mentor to see students reach the heights of pursuing master’s degrees or Ph.D. programs.

Previously, Trujillo was a medical researcher as well as a science educator at both the college and high school levels. From 2016 to 2019, he was the science department chair at Desert Academy in Santa Fe, where he taught biology, chemistry and physics to high school students.

From 2013 to 2016, Trujillo was a tenure-track professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, teaching in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology. He was a staff scientist from 2007 to 2013 at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in the department of molecular genetics and bicrobiology.

Trujillo said ARMAS will continue its extensive data analysis of how the center serves students.

“One goal is to use this data to evaluate how well existing ARMAS programs are working and how to improve them. Another goal is to identify additional needs students have. One of the major things that attracted me to this program is the high energy level at the ARMAS center. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to be part of that dynamic,” Trujillo said.

Trujillo earned his Ph.D. in molecular medicine from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio and completed post-doctoral research at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. He earned his B.S. in biology with high honors from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.

Trujillo, who was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, said he brings local knowledge to his new position at Highlands.

“I understand the communities, the culture and obstacles that exist in Northern New Mexico. I also have personal insight into what students experience from the entry level in college to professional science careers. I was once in their shoes and know the kind of hurdles they have to overcome to be successful,” Trujillo said.

In 2015, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics named ARMAS for “Bright Spots” honors. In 2014, Excelencia in Education named ARMAS as one of the top college programs in the nation for increasing graduation rates among Hispanics.

The ARMAS Center at Highlands was established in 2009 with a $2.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Grants followed from the Kellogg Foundation, National Science Foundation, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and more.

“The fact that Highlands also invests university funds in our ARMAS program is a sign of our value to students,” Trujillo said.