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About us

The New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) SomosSTEM (“We are STEM”) Program is an NSF (National Science Foundation) funded program that seeks to integrate more culturally informed, place and community-based undergraduate participation in STEM.

The SomosSTEM program engages students in life science community research pathways through the critical transition from lower to upper division coursework. Activities and experiences are used to support the development of a life science community that engages students, faculty, and community STEM partners. Grant activities include Course-based Undergraduate Research Experiences (CUREs); the SomosSTEM Summer Bridge Science Challenge Academy for college freshmen; a full summer internship program; and the Community Voices lecture series.

Upcoming events and deadlines

Photo of Rene Begay

Rene Begay

Join us on Friday, November 19 at noon via Zoom for our final Community Voices Lecture event of the fall 2021 semester, “Weaving a Path Through Science,” featuring Rene Begay, M.S. Rene is (Diné/Navajo) and an Indigenous geneticist and public health researcher. Currently, she is a Professional Research Assistant at the Centers for American Indian and Alaska Native Health with the University of Colorado School of Public Health. Rene is also an MPH candidate with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Some of her research interests are assessing the cultural, clinical, ethical, social implications and concerns related to genomics research within Indigenous communities.


SomosSTEM Activities

Course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) are laboratory modules integrated into introductory life-science classes at HU.

Summer Science Challenge Academy
The Summer Science Challenge Academy is a 10-day summer bridge program for HU freshmen that takes place in between the spring and summer semesters of each academic year. The academy is designed to support student retention and success in science by providing experiential learning opportunities through collaborative, culturally engaging place-based research experiences in local field sites.

Summer Internship Program
The eight-week SomosSTEM summer internship program pairs HU sophomores with several local community STEM partner mentors.  During the last week of the internship, students work with HU faculty to connect their internship experiences to the classroom by aiding in the creation of ibCUREs (intern-built CUREs) that will be integrated into introductory life-science courses.

Community Voices Lecture Series
The SomosSTEM Community Voices lecture series seeks to integrate more culturally informed, place- and community-based undergraduate participation in the sciences.

Professional development opportunities for HU faculty and community partners
SomosSTEM offers HU STEM faculty and local community STEM mentors equity and inclusion training to build effectiveness in mentoring students.

Research In partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), the SomosSTEM research study seeks to understand how early, high-impact, and culturally informed research activities effect the development of students’ self-efficacy, science identity, and sense of belonging.

STEM education researchers Dr. Elvira Abrica and Dr. Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza are conducting a five-year study utilizing a mixed method approach to evaluate how the development of these psychosocial attributes support college student persistence and degree completion in the life sciences at NMHU. The research study provides many opportunities for students to participate, including surveys, focus groups and interviews.

Student information

The SomosSTEM program gives you research experiences early in your undergraduate coursework. We provide you with the opportunity to be a part of the local STEM community by working with peers and local STEM partners in government agencies, non-profits, and private industry.

SomosSTEM CURE labs are a part of introductory life science classes so you can do science in your lab courses while participating in research within the local community.

The SomosSTEM Summer Science Academy for college freshmen supports student success by giving you an opportunity to work with faculty and community STEM partners on a local science challenge that addresses a real-world problem.

The SomosSTEM summer internship program is for sophomores, and introduces you to a partner mentor from a local not-for-profit, business, or government agency. During the 8-week internship, you will have an opportunity to work with them in the field and learn about local STEM-based activities.

To learn more about current SomosSTEM opportunities, please check the upcoming events section of this web page or contact the activities director at

Faculty information

Professional development opportunities
SomosSTEM offers HU STEM faculty and local community STEM mentors equity and inclusion training to build effectiveness in mentoring students. SomosSTEM also provides professional development opportunities to Highlands life sciences faculty members who have taught or will teach a SomosSTEM Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE). In the fall 2021 semester, SomosSTEM will host the CURE Institute, a 2.5-day workshop for faculty interested in learning more about CUREs and developing their own. An equity and inclusion training related to culturally relevant teaching will also be presented through ESCALA in Education during the spring 2022 semester.

Resources for CURE development
The SomosSTEM CURE Library contains CUREs that have already been developed and deployed at Highlands. SomosSTEM faculty collaborators are welcome to reuse or revise a CURE for their introductory-level life science classes.

*Please note that CUREs using a previous researcher’s data may require a request to the researcher for data access.

CURENet is an online resource for faculty who want to learn more about CUREs and network with others for CURE instruction and assessment.

Summer Science Challenge Academy–Faculty participation
As a life-science faculty member at HU you can assist the SomosSTEM team and actively engage with students during The Summer Science Challenge Academy. The academy is a 10-day summer bridge program that takes place in May. As an HU faculty member, you can work with students and local STEM partners in the field to address and explore a local STEM-related project or activity.

SomosSTEM Summer Science Challenge Academy
The Summer Science Challenge Academy is a 10-day program that takes place in May. Students learn about and work with NMHU faculty and community STEM partners to address and explore a local STEM-related project or activity. As a community STEM partner, you can actively work with students as they learn about local science issues and offer your knowledge and expertise in the field.

SomosSTEM Internship Program
The SomosSTEM program offers an 8-week internship for HU sophomores. Two students are paired with a local community partner mentor from a local STEM based not for profit, business, or government agency. Students will work in the field and learn about local STEM based issues in their community.

Professional development opportunities for community partner mentors
In Spring 2022, community partner mentors will be provided equity and inclusion training through ESCALA in education, an education consulting firm specializing in increasing the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in higher education.

If you are a SomosSTEM community partner and would like to know more about the Summer Science Challenge Academy, internship program, or opportunities for equity and inclusion training, please contact the SomosSTEM activities director, Crystal Medina, at

National Science Foundation NSF logo


Supported by the National Science Foundation, Award #1953487. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Meet the SomosSTEM Program Team

  • Sarah Corey-Rivas, Ph.D.

    Principal Investigator (PI)

  • Joe Zebrowski


  • Justine Garcia


  • Elvira Abrica


  • Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza


  • Crystal Medina

    Activities Director