Education & Outreach

Part of Energize New Mexico's vision includes creating a well-qualified STEM workforce while promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. NM EPSCoR provides activities that engage and support learners at all educational levels, leading to a diverse future in STEM. Greater educational success in STEM enables New Mexicans to take advantage of well-paid employment opportunities and increase our research competitiveness.

Education & Outreach Programs

Click an item below to discover Year 4 accomplishments in each program.

STEM Advancement Program

Bringing hands-on STEM research and education to rural and native colleges in New Mexico

STEM for All Video Thumbnail

June 6, 2016–July 29, 2016
New Mexico Tech,
New Mexico State University,
University of New Mexico

STEM Group Photo

The STEM Advancement Program (STEMAP) engages students from primarily undergraduate institutions in an 8-week summer research program at a research university with Energize New Mexico faculty researchers. The program begins with one week of training at New Mexico Tech and ends with student presentations to friends, family, and colleagues. In 2016, STEMAP welcomed 13 students into the fold, 92% of which were female or under-represented minorities. Their STEMAP experience took place from June 6 and wrapped up with presentations for friends and family on July 29, 2016. After their summer research, students participated in a Fall webinar series that focused on using campus resources, making effective presentations, networking at conferences, career pathways, and more.

Three students continued their STEMAP research during the academic year through STEMAP+, a program that provides them and a primarily undergraduate institution faculty mentor with a research stipend. The collective support for the STEMAP students let to conference presentations at the SACNAS, AISES, and NMAS annual conferences, including a 1st place poster award at AISES for Derrick Platero from San Juan College.

New Mexico Informal Science Education Network

NM EPSCoR's primary vehicle for disseminating research to learners of all ages and backgrounds

New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science, National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, ¡Explora! Science Museum

NM EPSCoR understands the need to communicate scientific concepts to the public to increase science literacy, especially for future generations. The New Mexico Informal Science Education Network (NM ISE Net) increases the ability of informal educators, such as museum staff and citizen scientists, to support STEM learning and education.

NM ISE Net works closely with NM EPSCoR scientists to communicate Energize New Mexico research to the public by providing mini-grants with funding up to $3000 for events and programming. In Year 4, three mini-grant projects were awarded. At Explora, funding supported youth interns to visit bioalgal labs at NMSU and UNM, as well as two Teen Science Cafés. The second mini-grant award to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History resulted in a public science day at Laguna Pueblo with our Uranium team. The third supported a partnership between our Bioalgal Energy team and Albuquerque Biopark for algae education materials.

Museum Exhibits

Part of the goals for NM ISE Net to communicate EPSCoR research is funding for three museum exhibits at the three main science museums in Albuquerque. The first Energize New Mexico exhibit opened in Year 4 at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. The exhibit, “Get Going with Green Goop” (pictured left), includes short videos of NM EPSCoR bioalgal research sites, an interactive game about growing algae, and 3D diatom models. To date, over 100,000 people have visited the museum since the exhibit opened and have had the opportunity to interact with it.

Two other exhibits are planned to open in Year 5: an energy exhibit with Explora will open in early 2018, and an exhibit called, “What’s Up With U?” featuring all aspects of the Uranium team’s researchwill open in mid-2018 at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History.

2016 Summer Teacher Institute

Connecting informal science education with formal standards-based classroom education

Museum of Space History, Alamogordo, NM

In addition to mini-grants and exhibit funding, NM ISE Net members also provide a summer professional development course for teachers that provides all the necessary ingredients for building a scientific way of thinking in teachers and students.

In Year 4, the Teacher Professional Development Institute was conducted in southeast New Mexico at the Museum of Space History in Alamogordo. A total of 21 teachers from five school districts participated in the Institute, facilitated by instructors from seven different NM ISE Net Organizations. By the end of the week-long course, 80% of the teachers showed substantial gains in energy knowledge as measured by a pre- and post-test assessment. Additionally, participants rated the Institute very highly as compared to other professional learning experiences, with more than 40% reporting it as the best professional development they had ever received.

Follow-up workshops occurred at the New Mexico Science Teacher’s Association annual conference in Fall 2016, and again in the Spring in Roswell. The final Energize New Mexico Teacher Professional Development Institute will take place in 2017 in Taos.


Providing opportunities for gradauate to conduct research at partnering institutions and companies

Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department, New Mexico Tech, University of New Mexico, USGS New Mexico Water Science Center

The NM EPSCoR Externship Program is a research exchange program that allows New Mexico graduate students with an existing assistantship to spend a semester or summer doing research at a partnering New Mexico university or research facility. The program provides opportunities to conduct research in a host lab, take courses at the host institution, and interact with the host’s laboratory. The cross-institutional cooperation among universities and research labs helps the success of future research, proposals, publications, and collaborations.

In Year 4, seven graduate students participated across four research components. (Update with names/links to blog here)

Interdisciplinary Innovation Working Groups

Using an interdisciplinary approach to solve complex problems that can transform science

Statewide across New Mexico

Interdisciplinary Innovation Working Groups (I-IWGs) provide a venue for researchers, educators, and nationally-recognized experts to address grand challenges that require an interdisciplinary approach to transform science. The three I-IWGs that took place in Year 4 are as follows:

Optimizing the Use of New Mexico’s Renewable Energy & Water Resources: This IWG brought together a team of 19 experts to explore the challenges associated with diminishing water supplies and the widespread use of renewable energy in New Mexico.

Preliminary Meeting of a New Mexico Working Group on Smart Grids and Smart Buildings: This interdisciplinary team evaluated sustainable energy generation and capacity using smart grid tools.

Contained Human Presence along the Rio Grande Corridor: An international interdisciplinary team from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, UNM, NMSU, and la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico explored how ecosystems and human technologies shaped settlements along the Rio Grande.

Faculty Leadership & Professional
Development Institute

Promoting inclusion and diversity for faculty from primarily undergraduate institutions

Primarily Undergraduate Institutions across New Mexico

The Faculty Leadership & Professional Development Institute comprises opportunities for faculty from primarily undergraduate universities to support STEM learning, especially among under-represented minorities. In Year 4, NM EPSCoR expanded the program to include two webinars and two workshops per year. In December 2016, teams of two faculty from 12 primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) participated in a two-day training on Growth Mindset, offered in conjunction with the National Association for Partnerships in Equity (NAPE). Another training from NAPE in Spring 2017 focused on self-efficacy.

In addition, Energize New Mexico participants provided day-long tours to 18 faculty from seven PUIs at five NM EPSCoR research laboratories at UNM, NMSU, and NM Tech. The faculty were exposed to work taking place at major research institutions and explored potential collaborations.

Infrastructure Seed Awards

Increasing research infrastructure & the capacity to provide quality research experiences

Primarily Undergraduate Institutions across New Mexico:
Year 4 funds granted to CNM, NMHU, and SFCC

In Year 4, Energize New Mexico awarded its three final Infrastructure Seed Awards. These $50,000 awards are meant to increase the access to research experiences for undergraduate students, especially women and under-represented minorities, by increasing non-PhD granting institutions’ ability to provide these experiences. The Year 4 Seed Awards are as follows:

“Development of Novel 2D and 3D Aromatic Materials with Extended pi-systems for Organic Solar Cells,” New Mexico Highlands University: This project uses chemistry to research the energy capacity of different materials for solar energy applications. The award supports collaboration with EPSCoR researcher Yan Qin, and a new proposal was submitted to NSF in January 2017 for future work.

“Undergraduate Internships that Generate Science Outreach and Education Models on the Topics of Southwest Energy Use and Development,” Central New Mexico Community College: CNM is working with Explora Science Center by recruiting STEM-majoring students into a science-outreach and education internship. The students received training on designing and implementing a science outreach education module, as well as topics on Uranium remediation from members of our Uranium team. Once the students completed their modules in Spring 2017, they held a hands-on outreach demonstration event at Explora.

“Updating and Improving the Capacity to Monitor Algal Growth,” Santa Fe Community College: Students at SFCC constructed a new algal photobioreactor testing unit, and will run multiple continuous growth experiments while training more students on new equipment and research processes.

Growing Up Thinking Computationally

Encouraging middle school students to ask questions, develop answers through scientific inquiry, and design solutions

2016–2017 School Year, southerm New Mexico

New Mexico State University hosted the Growing Up Thinking Computationally (GUTC) program in Year 4, shifting emphasis of the program to communities in the southern part of New Mexico and to in-school curriculum support. In-class implementation allows for access to more diverse students, as compared to students who choose to participate in after-school activities.

In Year 4, GUTC hosted two computer science teacher professional development events. The first provided 12 high school teachers from Las Cruces Public School District with technical expertise and instructional materials to effectively teach a computer science principles course. The second training provided 11 teachers from 6 high schools with an overview of computational thinking and instruction in the Python programming language.

In the 2016–2017 academic year, GUTC paired NMSU undergraduates in computer science with five high school teachers to integrate computational thinking into course curriculum. This helps teachers embed core computational principles into core curriculum, while using new methods to effectively present information. GUTC members also presented at the New Mexico Science Teacher’s Association annual conference, as well as a Women in Computing conference in Spring 2017.

Post-Doc Leadership Workshop

Helping post-doctoral scholars in STEM enhance their professional skills

Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge, Socorro, NM

The NM EPSCoR Post-Doc Leadership Workshop is an intensive, 3-day residential program designed to enhance the professional skills of post-doctoral scholars in STEM disciplines. In Year 4, the workshop took place at the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge on January 9–12, 2017 with 19 post-docs from national labs and research institutions in New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho.

NM EPSCoR invites experts from around the country to lead workshop sessions on meeting facilitation, communicating science with the media, research ethics, mentoring, career planning, proposal writing, and more. A majority of participants found each session to be useful in their careers and reported they developed new skills at the workshop. Feedback from two participants reported the following:

“This workshop is extraordinarily well organized. Everything went well and fluently. I like the way teaching methods were covered. I also like the beginning of the workshop which is preparing us for how a workshop should be done.”
“This program has been a wonderful opportunity to meet and talk with other post-docs and expert in several fields including ethics ( I thought it was going to be boring, but I found it absolutely great!) Also having interactive sessions about teaching and mentoring made me think about new possibilities for my career.”

Creative Startups

The first accelerator whose sole purpose is the success of creative & cultural entrepreneurs

New Mexico, North Carolina, Portugal

The Creative Startups Accelerator was launched in 2014 in Albuquerque with seed funding from NM EPSCoR, and they have now expanded to include Winston-Salem, NC, and Kuwait City, Kuwait. 41 startups have graduated from the program under the guidance of 80 mentors. The curriculum offers 12 modules for creatives looking to start a business. To date, the companies that participated in the first New Mexico Accelerators raised $6.5 million in private investment, generated $8.2 million in new revenues, and created over 140 jobs. 70% of the graduating startups are women- or minority-owned. Additional information on Creative Startups can be found on their website, and in their 2016 Impact Report.