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Student spotlight

December 2013

Austin Hancock

Austin Hancock is a MA Student in the department of foreign languages and literatures. His research interests include Surrealism, Dadaism and the work of Albert Camus. He recently defended his thesis with distinction on the relationship between boxing and early 20th century French Poetry.

December 2013

Ashley Ann Valenzuela-Ruesgen

Ashley Valenzuela-Ruesgen is a second year graduate student in Latin American Studies. She has academic concentrations in human rights and ethnology. Ashley was recently granted membership to the Bloomsbury Honor Society with highest honors for her 4.0 GPA. The society focuses on leadership, entrepreneurship and academic excellence. In addition, Ashley was also awarded an RPT Grant for her research which was conducted in Nicaragua this past summer. Her research interests focus on the effective and non-effective behaviors of NGOs as well as cultural consumption and tourism in Latin America. Ashley’s commitment to the academic community has led her to be nominated to serve on the Executive Committee for the University of Northern Colorado’s Young Alumni Council. Ashley completed undergraduate degrees in political science and Mexican-American studies at the University of Northern Colorado where she graduated with honors distinction.

November 2013


Erin Watley is a Winrock Doctoral Fellow and second year PhD student in the Communication & Journalism department. This year she is also one of the coordinators for the 2014 Shared Knowledge Conference and the Vice President of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA). Her research interests are concentrated on critically examining the role media plays in intercultural communication.

November 2013

Antonio Fernandez

Mr. Antonio Fernandez is a 2nd year graduate student in Public Administration (MPA) at the University of New Mexico’s School of Public Administration. In addition to having a full-time academic schedule, Mr. Fernandez has sought out additional graduate education experiences. He was selected as a fellow for the New Mexico Leadership Development in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. The NM LEND graduate fellowship program focuses on interdisciplinary education for its fellows. Mr. Fernandez is a licensed mediator and practices his skills as a volunteer at Albuquerque Metropolitan Court. He is also employed by the city of Albuquerque as an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mediator (ADR). Antonio is also the Ombudsman for Graduate Studies at UNM. His goal as an Ombudsman is to assist graduate students in resolving issues and concerns that arise within the University environment. Mr. Fernandez is here to assist graduate students in resolving conflicts they may have with anyone on campus using UNM policies, procedures and in some cases mediation. His office is located in the Humanities building, suite 107 and his office hours are from 9:30am to 2:30pm Tuesday and Wednesday. Students may call (505)277-1135 or to set up an appointment.

November 2013

Erin Murrah-Mandril

Erin Murrah-Mandril was awarded the 2013-2014 Center for Regional Studies Hector Torres Fellowship. She is currently completing her dissertation, "Time Out of Joint: Learning to Live with Specters through Mexican American Historical Narrative," and will defend in spring 2014. Her dissertation argues that Mexican American authors trouble modern conceptions of empty, homogenous, linear and progressive time in order to survive and contest US colonization. Her project historically situates the temporal colonization of Mexican America through material and ideological forces of time like the installation of standard time zones, the use of clocks, the construction of memory sites, the rhetoric of manifest destiny, and the ubiquity of linear homogenous time used to espouses progress as development while actually installing economic underdevelopment in ethnic US communities. At the same time, Erin interrogates the practice of literary recovery as a co-producer of recovered texts' multiple and fragmented forms of time. She has published articles in Western American Literature, Arizona Quarterly, and the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage series. She was also recipient of the Arms Scholarship for Students of American Literature and the Graduate Studies Graduate Student Mentor Award in spring 2011.

November 2013

Md. Mottaleb Hossain

UNM OSE-ECE and Smart lighting ERC PhD student, Md. Mottaleb Hossain, was awarded the prestigious SPIE Student Travel Grant to present his paper titled "Theoretical characteristics of 1.55 µm InN based quantum dot laser" at the SPIE Optics & Photonics Conference, San Diego, CA, August 2013. This Conference is the largest optical science and technology meeting in North America. Mr. Hossain was selected for this travel grant by the SPIE and the Symposium and Conference Chairs of the Optics & Photonics Symposium. He received his BS in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) from Khulna University of Engineering and Technology (KUET), Bangladesh in 2009. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD at UNM as an advisee of Professor Majeed M. Hayat. His current research focuses on the design, modeling, and characterization of CMOS compatible silicon avalanche photodiodes (APDs) and integrated plasmonic detectors for smart-lighting applications. Mr. Hossain has excellent leadership and communication skills and has a strong interest in innovation. He is the Vice President of Optical Society of America (OSA), UNM Student Chapter. He is also an active graduate student member of many professional and learned societies including SPIE, OSA, IEEE, IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), IEEE EDS, and Institution of Engineers, Bangladesh (IEB).

October 28, 2013


Jaen Ugalde, a UNM student who is currently pursuing his MBA at Anderson School of Management, recently won the 2013 Hispanic College Quiz TV game show coordinated by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU). During the event, which was held in Chicago, Ugalde made the University of New Mexico and our state proud when he competed against and defeated two students from Texas schools—not an easy accomplishment. As the winner on the show, Ugalde was awarded a $3,000 scholarship that will help him pursue his career and educational goals of finishing his MBA and starting his own gourmet taco and Mexican food business. Ugalde says that he couldn’t have participated in the show or won if it weren’t for his numerous mentors who encouraged him to do so. His list of thank yous includes everyone from his undocumented and documented brothers and sisters to the vice president for Student Affairs, Cheo Torres, and many people in between. 

October 21, 2013


Tunay Oguz is a PhD candidate in the University of New Mexico, Department of Economics with concentrations in public finance and health economics. As part of her research, she has focused on promoting women’s empowerment in Turkey. She measured the evolution of empowerment in a decade and tested whether the factors associated with empowerment at one point-in-time also can explain changes in empowerment over time. In July 2013, she was awarded the Rhonda Williams Prize at the Annual International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) conference in Palo Alto, CA for her research paper; Changes in Women’s Empowerment in Turkey, 1993-2003. She has recently been awarded the Graduate Success Scholarship for the Fall 2013 semester. She is currently working on her dissertation which explores women and children’s health care access and utilization behaviors in U.S and developing countries.

October 14, 2013


Ms. Nina Helvey is a 2nd year graduate student in speech-language pathology (SLP) at the University of New Mexico’s Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. In addition to having a full-time academic and clinic schedule, Ms. Helvey has sought out additional graduate education experiences. She was selected as a fellow for the New Mexico Leadership Development in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. The NM LEND graduate fellowship program focuses on interdisciplinary education for its fellows. In collaboration with one of her colleagues, Ms. Helvey has developed and designed a website focusing on interdisciplinary education intended for UNM graduate students in the areas of health-related sciences. You can find the latest blog post at The website will be officially announced at the beginning of fall semester 2013. Ms. Helvey and her colleague are also preparing a systematic review of the research literature in interdisciplinary education and its effect on service delivery outcomes as a compliment and rationale for the web page.

October 7, 2013


Scott Crago is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of New Mexico. With the aid of the Latin America and Iberian Institute PhD Fellowship, Crago recently conducted sixteen months of dissertation research in Santiago and Temuco Chile. As a result of this research, Crago received both the Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship and the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship to support the writing of his dissertation. Through a focus on a pilot project for indigenous Mapuche integration known as Plan Perquenco, his dissertation examines ethnicity, gender, state building and Mapuche collective memory during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Plan Perquenco demonstrates that neoliberal reforms under Pinochet were inherently cultural in that they required a fundamental transformation of Mapuche gender roles, familial organization, and individual relationships to natural resources. Through an emphasis on state decentralization, however, this study underscores that these programs provided unintentional spaces for Mapuche community and cultural revival. Crago will defend his dissertation in the fall 2014 term.

September 23, 2013

Ryan Morrison

Ryan Morrison is a PhD candidate in the UNM Department of Civil Engineering and is researching environmental flow alternatives in the Rio Chama, New Mexico. After working for four years as a water resource engineer and earning his professional engineering license, Ryan moved from Oregon in 2010 to begin his PhD at UNM. His interest in balancing water resource needs helped earn him a Hydro Research Foundation Fellowship in 2011. Most recently, Ryan traveled to Jordan during the summer of 2013 to help teach a workshop on water resource management in arid regions to Jordanian students and academic professionals. During the trip, Ryan and his advisor, Dr. Mark Stone, worked closely with Al al-Bayt University. Ryan's travels to Jordan were supported with a Future Faculty Award given by UNM's Graduate Studies. Ryan is completing the final year of his doctoral program with the help of a Graduate Dean's Dissertation Fellowship. More information about Ryan and his research can be found on his website.

September 16, 2013


Tara Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate in the UNM Department of Philosophy. She was recently awarded a fellowship from the Bilinski Foundation to support her while she finishes her dissertation, which she is set to defend in Spring 2014. Her research interests include phenomenology, ethics, animals, technology, and the natural world. In her dissertation, she focuses on the work of Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty and explores how their understanding of the nature of reality and existence can help us to formulate the basis for an ethics that can improve our relationship with the environment. Her project then seeks to apply the theoretical insights gained from Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty to a concrete environmental concern by examining how this ethical system might guide our thinking and behavior with regard to the use of bio- and nanotechnologies. Finally, she seeks to bridge the theory-practice divide in a second way, namely by arguing that Henry David Thoreau embodied a phenomenologically ethical comportment and suggesting ways in which we can learn to be more respectful of the environment by examining his writings and life.

September 9, 2013


Colleen Dunn is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English Language and Literature whose primary research interests center on issues of sanctity in medieval Europe, with a particular focus on female saints in Anglo-Saxon England. She was recently awarded the Bilinski Foundation Fellowship for 2013-14, as she works towards completing her dissertation, “God’s Chosen: The Adaptation and Transmission of the Cults of Virgin Martyrs in Anglo-Saxon England.” Her work examines the writings about St. Juliana and St. Margaret, two Mediterranean virgin martyrs whose stories were brought to England and adapted to appeal to an Anglo-Saxon audience. Colleen is also currently writing about the late-twelfth-century mock treatise On the Art of Courtly Love by Andreas Capellanus, investigating the possibility that the text was intended to be a political and moral commentary on Eleanor of Aquitaine—an idea she presented at the 2012 International Medieval Congress in Leeds, England.

September 2, 2013


Mary Hudgens Henderson is a PhD student in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese. She recently received a $4000 New Mexico Research Grant from the Graduate and Professional Student Association of UNM to conduct her dissertation study, ‘Sociolinguistics for Kids’. The purpose of the study is to teach bilingual 5th graders about natural language variation, while comparing and contrasting standardized and non-standardized language varieties. With this linguistics-based approach to academic language, students will practice style-shifting to the school-based language variety while appreciating the beautiful diversity of human language. Her linguistics-based curriculum uses audio, video, puppets and electronic books to get kids to listen carefully to the numerous ways humans express themselves via vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar. She was first inspired to bring linguistics into the classroom while working as a bilingual classroom teacher in Colorado—one day a student asked, ‘How do you spell “gonna”?' That question launched a language ethnography project in her class, and galvanized Mary’s passion for using what we know about language variation to help students navigate school-based language.

August 26, 2013


Pranav Rathi is a PhD student in Optical Science and Engineering. He just finished his PhD project: Design and construction of an advance and user friendly optical tweezers for biomolecular studies. The tweezers was built for DNA unzipping (for DNA sequencing) and overstretching. The importance of this project is is that it was built under limited budget and yet it could perform very complicated experiments which would require a hefty budget (to build the tweezers). In this economy when the funding for the research is extremely limited, it is important to use every bit of available resources. The project used air-freshener to computer hard drives to build the different parts of this tweezers. This project is also an ideal example of getting GREEN in research and of how researches can recycle normal hardware like computers for the benefit of their research right in their labs and yet can produce very high standard results. His lab is also a key promoter of open science, so all of the work, including results, is produced online for the benefit of researchers around the world.

August 19, 2013


Mohammad Reza Arbabshirani is a double major graduate student doing his PhD in Electrical Engineering and his Masters of Science in Statistics at University of New Mexico. In 2013, he was selected as Outstanding Graduate Student at the Mathematics and Statistics department. In 2012 he was selected as outstanding student at the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. His is working under supervision of Prof. Vince Calhoun at the Mind Research Network on automatic discrimination of brain disorders based on neuroimaging data. His broad interdisciplinary research interests include signal and image processing, machine learning, data analysis, statistical modeling and neuroimaging.

August 12, 2013


Beth Pritchard received her BA. in Psychology at UNM while working in an adult rehab facility among a team of physical and occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, physicians and nurses. She returned to graduate school to become a speech-language pathologist in 2011 and began a fellowship in the LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) program in association with the Center for Development and Disability (CDD). Her research and leadership projects have focused on overcoming barriers to interprofessional collaboration at the training level and providing information and encouraging communication between students who have little access to resources outside of their respective departments. Beth is the co-founder of UNM SIDE (Students for InterDisciplinary Education), a blog devoted to promoting educational collaboration and increased communication between departments. Through ongoing research and community leadership efforts, she works to support strong alliances among UNM educators and students alike to improve the health and education of New Mexico and beyond.

August 5, 2013


Gbenga Frederick Olorunsiwa is the winner of 2012-2013 Susan Deese-Roberts Outstanding Teaching Assistant of the Year Awards. Mr. Olorunsiwa’s research encompasses Race, African and African diasporic cinema, African history and Literature. His PhD, MA and BA research and other works have explored issues of race and race relations in the United States and Africa, identity, society and cultural representation in African, African diasporic cinema and literature. He is currently an ABD (All but dissertation) student and is writing his PhD dissertation in the area of representations of Africa and Africans in films from various cinematic traditions, particularly in Western films, exploring these representations as they happened within particular socio-economic and political frameworks. Mr. Olorunsiwa earned his MA in Afro-American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with specialization in Africa and African Diaspora Literature and his BA degree at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, where he majored in English Literature, and wrote his thesis on Wole Soyinka, who was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first African to be so honored. Congratulations once again to Mr. Olorunsiwa on winning this award, his dedication to his students as a teaching assistant and all his academic achievements.

July 22, 2013


Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen is a PhD candidate in the University of New Mexico Department of English Language and Literature, with a focus on Medieval Studies. He was recently awarded a dissertation fellowship from the Bilinski Foundation. His dissertation focuses on the concept of authority in the Old English Genesis poem(s), an Anglo-Saxon poem based on the biblical book of Genesis. The dissertation examines both the poet's use of language and connections to Anglo-Saxon culture. Doug's other scholarly interests include Old English Language and Old Norse Language and Literature.

July 15, 2013


Tyler Zey is a second year masters student at UNM. He began his studies at Luther College in Iowa. In fall 2012, he won the district Music Teacher National Association competition and place honorable mention at regionals. In Spring 2013, he recorded a cd that placed him in the semi-finals of the International Clarinet Associations Young Artist Competition. The applicants were from eleven countries. He was unable to compete further due to a previous engagement with Lorin Maazel's Castleton Festival where he will play clarinet for three operas, eight orchestra concerts, and several chamber music concerts. In fall 2013, he will tour Japan with Lorin Maazel performing La Fanciulla del West and compete in the Beijing International Music Competition.

July 8, 2013


In March of 2013, Sigrid Karlstrom, a Masters student in viola performance and string pedagogy, won a core position in the New Mexico Philharmonic Orchestra, where she will start in Fall 2013. She has played regularly this season with Sunday Chatter, collaborating with Albuquerque area professionals such as Guillermo Figueroa, David Felberg, Joan Zucker, and James Shields, her most recent performance (June 2013) being "Child" by minimalist composer David Lang. Follow the link to a performance featuring Sigrid that was recorded in January, 2013. Sigrid has also performed recently with Opera Southwest and the Figueroa Project. Sigrid switched to viola about one year ago after completing a Masters degree in violin at the University of Oregon with professor Fritz Gearhart. She is currently a student of Kimberly Fredenburgh at the University of New Mexico. After her graduation, Sigrid plans to pursue a career in viola performance and teaching.

July 1, 2013


Lauren Harris just completed her first year of graduate studies in Music Performance with a concentration in Flute at the University of New Mexico. She regularly performs with the UNM Symphony Orchestra. She was also awarded an assistantship to perform with the UNM Wind Symphony, Graduate Woodwind Quintet, and in several venues as part of the school of music's community outreach and education. Most notably, she recently was one of twenty-five flutists, nationally, to receive the honor of an invitation to perform in the National Flute Association's Young Artist Competition at their Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, which will take place in August, 2013.

June 24, 2013


Doctoral and Masters Students Grace Faustino, Nicole Berezin, Caitlin Legere and Adrian Carstens have secured a grant in the amount of $ 102,249 from Grand Challenges Canada to implement a bold, innovative idea addressing global health disparities. They are working on an international collaborative project in Ghana to develop a proof-of-concept design for a mobile distance learning environment to train Physician Assistants in rural communities of Ghana. Along with UNM Regents Professor Lani Gunawardena and mobile learning experts Mohamed Ally and Agniezka Palalas, they will be traveling to Ghana beginning in June to start phase-one of the project. Watch this video highlighting the team's project goals. Grace Faustino, a South Sudanese native from Africa is a doctoral student in the Organizational, Information and Learning Sciences (OILS) Department. Her passion is to both research and develop Mobile Learning Environments and Instructional Design for Academia. This passion is the reason for her involvement in this international collaborative project to design a Mobile Learning Platform for Distance Education to be used as an instructional platform to train physician assistants in rural Ghana. Nicole Berezin is a doctoral student in the OILS department and pursues her passion for using technology to leverage knowledge and resources in an effort to reduce healthcare disparities in New Mexico and throughout the world; both in her studies and her work as a Program Specialist for Replication Initiatives at Project ECHO® (Extensions for Community Healthcare Outcomes), University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC). Caitlin Legere is an OILS Masters student who will complete her degree in December 2013. A graphic artist/designer, technology and new-media enthusiast residing in Taos, she believes that social entrepreneurship of the type this group has pursued is an instrument of personal growth for her, and allows her to use her creative drive to make a direct impact on the global greater good. Adrian Carstens is an OILS Masters student, attending UNM as a distance learner from Alameda, CA. He works as the HRD Manager for a customer service call center handling medical, commercial, and government clients. His area of interest is leveraging technology to effect organizational performance improvement. He feels this project showcases how OILS students can have a global societal impact.

June 17, 2013


Julia Hellwege recently completed the Latin@ Graduate and Professional Student Fellowship program administered through the GRC and El Centro de la Raza. She is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science specializing in the subfields of American and Comparative politics. Her primary concentration lies in the study of political institutions and their effects, particularly on women’s and minority political representation. She is currently working on several projects involving minority politics in the United States. One looks at minority women and committee leadership in state legislatures another looks at the effects of the economic recession on minorities political behavior, both of these co-authored pieces were presented at the Western Political Science Association conference. She is just starting her dissertation which will look at the effects of diverse state legislatures on the public’s sense of trust and efficacy. Julia is also engaged in coordinating Ready to Run NM, a training program for women who are thinking about running for public office. You can learn more about Julia at the Political Science website.

June 10, 2013


Sean Bruna-Lewis is a PhD. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology. An immigrant from Mexico to El Paso, Texas, Sean returned to El Paso for two years of doctoral field research. His dissertation, “Sowing Seeds for the Future to Honor Tigua History and Tradition” utilizes community-based participatory research to examine type-2 diabetes prevention and care at Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, Texas. His research examines the intersection of four domains addressing the prevention of diabetes: tribal history, healthcare practices, religion, and individual wellness behaviors. Sean’s research was made possible by various grants and fellowships, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. As a recipient of UNM's One-Time Graduate Assistantship Award, Sean will develop a dual semester undergraduate course on community-based participatory research. Designed to support the goals of the Research Service Learning Program (RSLP), of which Sean is a founding faculty member, this course will provide undergraduates with the theory and skills to conduct their own community based research. Learn more about Sean at his website.

June 3, 2013


Nicole Nelson is a first-year master’s student in the political science department. She was recently awarded a one-time Graduate Studies assistantship for the spring 2013 semester, with which she will support professors by completing a data set to study the intersectionality of race and gender in the Brazilian legislature.

May 27, 2013


Scott Jasechko has a passion for the provision of clean, fresh water, the topic of his Ph.D. research in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. In a recent lead-author publication in the scientific journal Nature, Scott and co-authors showed that the movement of fresh water through plants during growth accounts for the largest movement of fresh water on Earth – more than 1.5 times the movement of water in all the planet’s rivers – with significant implications for future fresh water resource assessments in a warming climate. Scott was also recently awarded funding to lead a water research project in Uganda by The Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science’s Pathfinder Fellowship program, and actively coordinates online water events through the Canadian Water Network’s Students and Young Professionals Committee. His research is supported by a Caswell Silver Foundation graduate fellowship, without which, he says, his research and graduate education at UNM would not be possible. Watch his Video Journal.

May 20, 2013


Priscila Poliana is a Brazilian native who immigrated alone to the United States eight years ago. Since her arrival, she’s worked relentlessly – first, learning English, and now, pursuing her graduate degree in Community & Regional Planning. Priscila has a BA. in Economics and has established herself as a vibrant community leader, serving in a number of UNM committees and student organizations. She was awarded the New-One-Time-Assistantship to expand her work on cultural awareness and community building through promoting the history, language and culture of Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries. Her research interests encompass investigating relationships between space and power and analyzing how different communities utilize the built environment to improve economic conditions and to rewrite narratives of image. In addition to being awarded several academic honors, such as the Latino/a Graduate Fellowship and the outstanding academic performance from the African American Student Services, Priscila was recently elected President of UNM’s Graduate & Professional Student Association. As GPSA's president Priscila will work towards securing funding lines for graduate students, and creating a culturally diverse environment where local and international students feel safe and welcome.

May 13, 2013


Ruth Healy is an Albuquerque native. She studied cellular/ molecular biology at Occidental College and has research experience in gene therapy and marine and tropical ecology. She has spent the last five years at the University of New Mexico Hospital helping develop a sterile compounding compliance program but it was her post-baccalaureate volunteer work in Xela, Guatemala with USC’s Somos Hermanos program that lead her to pursue a master’s in Public health and clinical career as a PA. As a recipient of the UNM's One-Time Graduate Assistantship Award, she will participate in the University of New Mexico Hospital Family and Community Medicine’s research on the prevalence of individuals with insufficient health insurance in New Mexico.

May 6, 2013


Rebeca Martínez Gómez is a PhD candidate and research assistant in the Department of Linguistics at the University of New Mexico. She holds a Master in Hispanic Linguistics and a Bachelor in Language and Literature. Her main research has been language variation and change in Mexican Spanish. She was recently awarded a Latina Graduate & Professional Student Fellowship to support her dissertation research, which focuses on a Mexican sociolinguistic stereotype of a group known as fresas (‘strawberries’). Her research uses a variety of methods. First, she collected a corpus of natural conversations from Mexico through the support of a Tinker Foundation/LAII Field Research Grant in 2011. Based on these data, she performed an acoustic analysis of a linguistic feature associated to the social group and presented the results at the Hispanic Linguistics Symposium in Fall 2012. The next step is to run perceptual experiments in order to explore the cognitive representations of this stereotype. The ultimate goal of her research is to expound on the interaction between language and other non-linguistic categories associated to stereotypes in cognitive representation. Watch her Video Journal.

April 29, 2013


Christos Galanis is an MA candidate in the Studio Art Department at the University of New Mexico, with a focus in Art & Ecology. For his Master's Thesis project, he and his donkey (Fairuz) will be living inside the courtyard of the Studio Art building for four days and three nights (April 10 -12). During that time, small groups of people will have the opportunity to join Christos and Fairuz for facilitated walks around campus. While they certainly constitute artistic performances, these walks are simultaneously undertaken as a means of exploring inter-species histories of domestication, communication, and co-evolution. Furthermore, the act of walking is reclaimed as a particular form of embodied pedagogy and knowledge production. More details on this project are available on Tumblr and Facebook (search for "Donkey Walking").

April 22, 2013


Jeremy D. Falson is a first year master’s student in Latin American Studies with concentrations in Sociology and Political Science. Currently, he is in the process of researching his Masters' Thesis on how political ideology affects the organizational structure of democratic labor unions in contemporary Mexico. He was recently awarded UNM’s one-time graduate assistantship award for the spring 2013 semester, where he will be working with Professor Leila Lehnen in re-designing the syllabus and course configuration for the Pro-Seminar in Latin American Studies, a requisite course for all Latin American Studies Masters students. The project involves compiling the insight of the students who have previously taken the course (via survey and interviews) and using this information to change the contour of the seminar’s framework, topics and texts. Additionally, the project will benefit the future students of the course by providing them with a comprehensive introduction to the rigors of interdisciplinary graduate level scholarship. As Jeremy’s ultimate aspiration is to become a professor, this assistantship positions him to gain the appropriate scholarly experience required to realize this goal.

April 15, 2013


Jonathan Carter Hebert is a Ph.D Student in the Nanoscience and Microsystems Program. His background is in electrical and energy systems engineering. He was recently awarded UNM’s one-time graduate assistantship award for the spring 2013 semester, where he will be working closely with the NSMS Program to develop a two year college and undergraduate student outreach program. Jonathan’s outreach efforts will include developing the NSMS's social media and web presence, as well as a recruiting message. His assistantship will help establish a pathway for New Mexico two year college students to transfer to UNM and pursue a graduate education in NSMS. This assistantship will help provide him with opportunities to network with Nanoscience professionals across the state and get exposed to the developing opportunities in this emerging field of research. There are a lot of things happening in Nanoscience research, especially in New Mexico. The landscape of careers is changing. Technology is driving these changes and advancements through Nanoscience research are a key part. He is going to get out the message, and help today’s students know about the academic pathways for tomorrow’s careers. To keep an eye out for the NSMS program’s new social media presences on Facebook, twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, check Jonathan’s LinkedIn account. Watch his Video Journal.

April 8, 2013


Amanda Seeman is a second year master’s student in the sociology department.  Her master’s thesis explores the ways that Internet-informed patients disrupt traditional doctor/patient interactions during clinical encounters.  Physicians traditionally were the only source for medical information; however, the Internet has created unlimited access to professional and lay knowledge on medical conditions.  The trend of information retrieval online is having an effect on patient empowerment and their role in medicalization.  She is interested in how physicians respond to Internet-informed patients and what implications their reactions have on role expectations and power dynamics.  She was recently awarded UNM’s one-time graduate assistantship award for the spring 2013 semester, which she says is a great honor and will help her develop her professional skills and assist professors in the department with their projects.

April 1, 2013


Shaina Saint-Lot is a senior at the University of New Mexico, where she will receive a dual Bachelor’s in Economics and International Studies.  As a child growing up in Haiti, she has always been interested in development and the inequality and growth that may result from institutional and organizational initiatives. Shaina enrolled in a development class in Nicaragua with UNM in the summer of 2011. They visited various places, from coffee cooperatives and microfinance organizations to orphanages and trash dumps. It was interesting to see the different solutions offered to alleviate poverty. While there, she worked on a microfinance research project with the McNair program. This year she is researching the effects of women’s empowerment on child wellbeing in Oáxaca, Mexico for her Honors thesis. Shaina has recently been awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship for an MPhil in Development Studies. She is looking forward to researching the effects of inequality on wellbeing and development while exploring the grassroots organizations and state institutions that can spur this equitable growth. She is excited to continue to build on her academic and research experience in the stimulating environment at Cambridge.

March 25, 2013


Drew Enigk is a first year PhD student in evolutionary anthropology at the University of New Mexico. After having spent two years conducting behavioral research on captive bonobos at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium while an undergraduate at Ohio State, he looks forward to beginning his first field study of primate behavioral ecology as a UNM graduate student. This summer, Drew will travel to Kibale National Park in Uganda to participate in the Kibale Chimpanzee Project, where he will observe wild chimpanzees and study the way that adolescent chimpanzees transition into adulthood. In the meantime, Drew is learning how to conduct various hormone assays in the lab at UNM, and he is excited about incorporating endocrinology into his behavioral research. Drew recently received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the Marcus L. Urann Fellowship (Alice and Russell True Foundation Fellowship) of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Watch his Video Journal.

March 18, 2013


Louis Calistro Alvarado is a PhD Candidate in Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, working with Drs. Jane Lancaster and Martin Muller (Committee Co-Chairs). His research has mainly focused on the expression of male steroid physiology across the lifespan, especially as it relates to androgen-dependent cancer. He conducts fieldwork at a rural Polish village located in the Carpathian Mountains, using non-invasive methods of biological specimen collection to examine interactions between steroid hormone levels, fertility status, work patterns, and senescence. Louis’s work is interdisciplinary and has been published in scientific journals of Anthropology, Evolutionary Biology, and Urology. This research was made possible through past funding from UNM Office of Graduate Studies as well as the National Science Foundation, and he is currently supported by the Program for Interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Sciences and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy.

March 11, 2013


Maggie Siebert graduated with distinction from the Masters of Science program in Community Health Education in the College of Education in May 2012. Currently, she is a first-semester doctoral candidate in Health Communication in the Department of Communication and Journalism. For the last year, Maggie has been involved in a USDA funded research study with advisor and mentor, Dr. Christina Perry, a faculty member in the Health Education Program, Department of Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences. Researchers from UNM and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are exploring food safety within diverse populations. Maggie’s work on this project has culminated in a validated food safety knowledge survey that is culturally appropriate for Native American and Hispanic populations. She recently presented her research at the annual meeting of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior in which her abstract received a top student research award —only 5 out of 200 were chosen.  Maggie serves as project manager in phase two of the food safety research project, which involves designing, implementing and evaluating a culturally competent intervention across communities in New Mexico and Nebraska. Watch her Video Journal.

March 4, 2013


Daniel Irving, a master student in Mechanical Engineering, together with newly hired assistant professor Francesco Sorrentino, have pioneered a research on the synchronization of dynamical hypernetworks, i.e., networks of dynamical systems coupled through two or more distinct types of interactions. For example, it is known that the connections between neurons in the brain can be of two different types: either chemical synapses or electrical gap-junctions. Hence, the brain is a hypernetwork. While the conditions for synchronization of networks formed of only one type of connections have been previously identified and fully explored ever since, Irving and Sorrentino have uncovered those that apply to hypernetworks, i.e., when connections different in nature coexist. The importance of this work lies in the possibility of analyzing synchronization of arbitrary hypernetworks and may shed light on aspects of relevance in neuroscience, physics, and engineering. In particular, a topic of current interest in engineering is the design of robust and improved communication protocols between many multi-agent systems that interact through several sensing capabilities. The results of their research have been recently featured in the journal Physical Review E.

February 25, 2013


Kevin Hallgren is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology in the Department of Psychology, University of New Mexico. He has conducted and published research on substance abuse treatment, social support, and quantitative methods in psychology. In November, Kevin presented a paper on quantitative models of alcohol craving and relationship satisfaction over the course of couples-based substance abuse treatment at the annual meeting of the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy (ABCT) in National Harbor, MD. At the same meeting, he presented a poster that tested the adequacy of statistical mediation for identifying mechanisms of change in psychotherapy, which was given an award for second place by the ABCT Clinical Research Methods and Statistics Special Interest Group. Kevin was recently awarded a Ruth Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. The fellowship provides two years of support for a project that uses social network analysis to better understand how drinking problems may be transmitted through social support networks. The results from this project may be useful for more effectively targeting treatments and prevention programs for alcohol use disorders.

February 18, 2013


Tennille L. Marley, MPH, is a PhD candidate in the department of sociology and a dissertation fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center for Health Policy.  She is a recent recipient of an Institute for American Indian Research (IFAIR) research scholarship and a former Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Native American Studies Fellow.  Tennille is White Mountain Apache and grew up on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in eastern Arizona. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and a Master of Public Health from the University of Arizona.  Her research interests include American Indian Health policy, diabetes in American Indian communities, and the incorporation of indigenous knowledge in sociological and health research. Tennille has diverse research experiences ranging from quantitative to qualitative approaches.  For example, the project, “The County as the Fundamental Unit of Health Assess in the United States”, was a quantitative study using a variety of quantitative methods including sensitivity analysis and hierarchal linear modeling.  Another research project was, “Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Map the Course of Integrated Health care for Depression and co-Occurring Conditions Among Off-Reservation American Indians.

February 11, 2013


Natalie Wright is a Ph.D. candidate in Biology and the Museum of Southwestern Biology, and a Graduate Research Fellow in the Program in Interdisciplinary Biology and Biomedical Sciences (PiBBs). She studies the ecology and evolution of birds using a variety of approaches, including morphology, physiology, macroecology, genome size estimation, functional biomechanics, and phylogenetics. Her dissertation research aims to answer the question, "What are the evolutionary and ecological drivers and functional consequences of the huge variation in flight styles and body plans across birds?" Natalie has recently published papers on island adaptations in birds and on bird life history and productivity. She has prepared  approximately 1100 museum bird specimens that are being used and will be used in perpetuity by scientists around the world to study avian biology and conservation. Click here for more information about Natalie's research.

February 4, 2013


Eliza Webb is currently enrolled in her first semester of graduate school in the University of New Mexico’s speech pathology program. She works as a graduate assistant in Dr. Cathy Binger’s augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) lab, where the present study focuses on determining the effect of an aided AAC modeling with contrastive targets intervention on the productive use of two-term semantic-syntactic relations in preschoolers who use AAC. Eliza was recently awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation’s first National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) Scholarship, which she received at the national American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention this month. A poster she co-authored with two other students, Marika King and Marysa Deblassie, was also presented at the convention. The poster was a post-hoc analysis of a pilot study of the previously mentioned study that coded and analyzed the semantic-syntactic relations of a child who used aided AAC. This poster was awarded meritorious recognition at the ASHA Convention.

January 28, 2013


Laura Guerrero began her tenure as a PhD candidate in the UNM Department of Philosophy in 2005 after earning her MA in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii. In her research, Laura brings Western analytic epistemology and Buddhist philosophy into dialogue to advance our understanding of issues related to truth, intentionality, meaning, and ontology. Laura recently had her paper "Mental Content and Intentionality in Dharmakīrti" accepted for publication in the volume The Moon Points Back, which is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Also, in 2012, Laura was awarded the Barrett Fellowship from the UNM Department of Philosophy based on the merit of her research. In her dissertation, which she is set to defend in spring 2013, Laura uses a cross-cultural method of analysis and brings Eastern and Western philosophical traditions into dialogue with one another. She seeks to use the insights of both traditions to help solve philosophical problems concerning truth and meaning that arise in each. Based on this approach to Eastern and Western philosophy, Laura forwards a novel interpretation of the canonical Buddhist thinker Dharmakīrti, and also provides a novel solution to a persistent problem concerning truth in Mahāyāna Buddhist philosophy.

January 21, 2013


Angelina González-Aller is a PhD candidate in the department of political science at the University of New Mexico and an RWJF Health Policy Doctoral Fellow. Her research interests extend from studies of legislative behavior and policymaking to studies of racial health and education inequities. Her dissertation examines the impact of race-gendered norms and practices within the United States Congress. Through the analysis of informal norms and practices, she hopes to understand how gendered hierarchies influence the behavior of elected officials in political institutions. To facilitate this research, Ms. González-Aller will spend 8 months in Washington, D.C. serving as one of the prestigious Women’s Research & Education Institute’s Congressional Fellows. Ms. González-Aller was selected for this fellowship from a national pool of applicants and will gain first hand policy experience as she serves as a legislative aide in the United States Congress.

January 14, 2013


Ethan Mills began his tenure as a PhD candidate in the UNM Department of Philosophy in 2005 after earning his MA in Philosophy from the University of Hawaii. Ethan’s main research interests include the philosophical traditions of classical India (including Indian Buddhist philosophy) and skepticism (both ancient and modern, and Western and Indian). Ethan recently had his paper “Jayarāśi’s Delightful Destruction of Epistemology” accepted for publication in Philosophy East and West, the top journal in his field. He has also had papers published in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics and IndianEthics: Classical Traditions and Contemporary Challenges: Volume II. In his dissertation, which he is set to defend in spring 2013, Ethan explores whether philosophical skepticism, as it has arisen in the West, is an inevitable philosophical problem by looking to the rich traditions of classical India - in particular, the philosophers Vasubandhu, Nāgārjuna, and Jayarāśi. He argues that the type of skepticism that has been a major issue in the West is not inevitable, and conjectures that another kind of skepticism - skepticism about philosophy - may in fact be an inevitable part of philosophical traditions.

January 7, 2013


Stephen Harris began his tenure as a PhD candidate in the UNM Department of Philosophy in 2006 and is set to defend his dissertation in spring 2013.  Stephen’s research focuses on Indian philosophical texts, in particular Buddhist moral philosophy, and their conceptual relationships to issues in Western ethics.  Stephen is currently finishing his second year as a Fay Sawyier Pre-Doctoral Teaching Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.  In addition to earning this prestigious award, Stephen recently had his paper "On the Classification of Śāntideva's Ethics in the Bodhicaryāvatāra” accepted for publication in Philosophy East and West, the top journal in his field.  He has also had papers published in theJournal of Buddhist Ethics and Contemporary Pragmatism.  In his dissertation, Stephen gives special attention to the relationship between benevolence and self-interest in the writing of the eighth century Indian Buddhist monk, Śāntideva.  He develops connections between Śāntideva’s claim that committing to an arduous process of virtue development is beneficial to the individual and issues of “overdemandingness” faced by Western ethical theories.

January 2013

Elena Avilés

Elena Avilés was awarded The College of Arts and Sciences Russell J. and Dorthy S. Bilinski Fellowship in the Humanities and is currently completing her dissertation Mi lengua franca: Manipulating Chicana Cultural Heritage in Art and Literature. Her research interest include Chicana/o literature, art and cultural production as well as the exploration of key issues by women of color and feminist in literature.

January 2013

Crystiana Baca-Bosiljevac

Crystiana (Tiana) Baca-Bosiljevac is a MS candidate in the Department of Geography and Environmental studies. Tiana is funded by the USDA Hispanic Serving Institutions Education Grant and her research seeks to compare scholarly concepts of resilience with primary factors influencing Albuquerque's smallholder farmers' decisions to continue farming. Her research highlights the voices of local farmers and critically examines the scope and limitations of resilience theory. Tiana was part of a panel on the Foodshed Movement and New Agrarian at the Beyond Pesticides 31st National Pesticide Forum in April 2013. Additionally, Tiana plans on presenting her research at the Association of American Geographers annual meeting in April 2014.