The funding enables students to conduct relevant, hands-on research locally and internationally
July 25, 2023
Over the last three years, the Natural Resources Management Department has received three grants totaling $705,000—one from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and two from the National Science Foundation.
The water resources science studies were supported by the Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program Grant No. 2020-38422-32242 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The geophysics and GIS research on volcano development and landscape change were supported by NSF awards 2139062 and 2245854.
The USDA grant is specifically aimed at preparing students for careers in water resources management, while the NSF grants support student research in geology with specialized equipment and opportunities to study geological topics internationally. For students in water resources management courses, research is often focused locally.
“Three of my mentees are working on water quality assessments of the Gallinas River and the Upper Pecos River,” said Dr. Jennifer Lindline, professor of Geology. “I think any research is going to increase student’s level of excitement and engagement, but when they’re learning about the communities in which they live, or the watersheds that they love, that’s really impactful.”
Although scientific research can often move slowly, some events, like the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire that swept through Mora and San Miguel Counties last year, can create sudden real-world research opportunities for students.
“It’s really a part of life; you sometimes have to jump at opportunities in science,” said Dr. Michael Petronis, professor of Geology. “It’s an opportunity to approach the fire from different perspectives because no single discipline can cover the gamut of environmental impacts from such an event.”
Research by NMHU students earned them numerous awards and accolades earlier this year. Among them, Madison Allcorn, Mary Frances Bibb, Mateo Stewart, and Kamren Moore all received cash awards from the New Mexico Geological Society—one of the premier geological societies in the country—for their academic performance, co-curricular engagement, and program leadership. In addition, students in Natural Resources Management presented on a wide range of topics at the New Mexico Geological Society’s annual Spring Meeting and at the NMHU Research and Creative Showcase Day.
“My students are inspired to continue conducting research into the post-Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon conditions of our beloved watersheds,” said Dr. Lindline. “Dr. Petronis’ and Dr. Foucher’s students are excited to study volcanic growth and landscape development in the U.S. Southwest and European terrains.”
According to Lindline, students in Natural Resources Management often begin research projects in their first few years of college that they carry with them until they graduate—or into their master’s degree program.
“There are many different aspects to natural resources management and as long as students get excited about their projects, they can steer down any number of paths,” said Dr. Petronis. “There are a lot of opportunities with state, community, and private entities and we are opening the door for our students to those possibilities.”