Former NM EPSCoR Student Receives Research Fellowship

Natalie Rogers August 13, 2013

New Mexico EPSCoR is proud to support undergraduate research projects that can lead to prestigious research opportunities and the continuation of higher education. Juan Solis, a civil engineering graduate student at NMSU and a former NM EPSCoR research student, recently received the Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. As an undergraduate, Solis worked with NM EPSCoR researcher Salim Bawazir (NMSU) to build and install climate stations. Solis will receive $40,000 for three years in support of his current research on the use of New Mexico-native salt grass to suppress the spread of non-native salt cedar. Salt cedar is considered an invasive species that absorbs large amounts of water and interferes with biodiversity, and salt grass not only tolerates arid climates and drought conditions, it is also thought suppresses salt cedar seed germination. Solis' thesis on the use of salt grass to suppress salt cedar is innovative and highly affordable.
“I think it’s exciting that we’re trying to be innovative,” Solis said to NMSU reporter Isabel Rodriguez. “We’re using something natural as a way to control something that’s invasive. Instead of having it mowed or sprayed on a continuous basis, which can be expensive, we’re trying to use nature to control the spread of salt cedar.” Bawazir told NMSU he is "glad" that Solis received the grant, and hopes the award will help him continue his research to a doctoral level.
The NM EPSCoR RII-4 grant will continue to support undergraduate students with programs like the one Solis participated in. The STEM Advancement Program will provide 12 students with summer research opportunities and fellowships for the academic year during which they will work with a sponsoring faculty member to develop individual objectives that extend their experiences in STEM research. Workshops, conferences, and other development opportunities will be available. An announcement about applying to the STEM Advancement Program will come in early 2014.

Source: NMSU News Center. Thanks to Caiti Steele for the tip!