November 19, 2021

Recap of the 2021 New Mexico Research Symposium

image of interface with student poster displayed
By Sara Pichette

This year’s Research Symposium was held virtually from November 8 to 12, 2021. The program was topical and hosted a variety of speakers, posters, and awards honoring science, STEM, and research contributions in New Mexico through a space lens. 

The Symposium commenced with Dr. Larry Crumpler’s out of this world informative opening keynote address, “The Exploration of Mars: A New Era of Discovery with Perseverance and the Ingenuity Helicopter.” His talk summarized the exploratory timeline of Mars while highlighting his personal connections to the red planet. Dr. Crumpler is a member of the Perseverance Rover Mission science team and was a member of the development team for the Ingenuity helicopter. Prior to this mission, Dr. Crumpler was a member of both the Spirit and Opportunity missions for the Mars Exploration Rover, where he downloaded information from the rover daily into his office at the Natural History Museum. To view Dr. Crumpler’s opening keynote, click here.

On Tuesday, the interactive session “Using TEA to Inform your R&D” with Dr. Anjali Mulchandari, Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at UNM, was held in This session looked at the utilization of a techno-economic analysis (TEA) to identify the economic feasibility and sustainability of new technology and guide subsequent research and development. This important step helps bridge the gap between academic research and industry implementation and is applicable to many disciplines.

Also on Tuesday, the virtual poster session opened with nearly 20 posters from all corners of the state including Central New Mexico Community College, Santa Fe Community College, Eastern New Mexico University, University of New Mexico, Navajo Technical University, New Mexico State University, and New Mexico Tech. Emulating an in-person event, we hosted a virtual face-to-face session in where students and participants used avatars to interact with each other.

animated gif of the interface


On Wednesday a panel session was hosted by Paulo Oemig, Director of the NM Space Grant Consortium titled, “Venturing into Space: How New Mexico faculty is reaching for the stars and taking students along the journey.” The panel featured seven researchers from UNM, NMSU, and NMT who highlighted the diverse and exciting space research happening in New Mexico. Topics included inner ear sensor research for manned space missions, exploring the human-robot interaction and trust establishment, and novel additive manufacturing techniques using moon dust for decreasing radiation exposure for extraplanetary structures. Thank you to Paulo Oemig, Sally Seidel, Marlena Fraune, Andrei Zagrai, Fernando Moreu, Elba Serrano, Paul Fuierer, and Douglas Cortes for participating in the panel. To view the recorded panel session, click here.

Friday’s closing presentation and award ceremony was a busy hour starting off with seven SMART Grid Center-focused Flash Talks, which adhered to the well-known 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) presentation style taking the academic world by storm. In this format researchers summarize their concept or idea in three minutes with one slide. Topics included “Defining and Developing Careers with NSF,” “Incorporating Inverter-based Power from Distributed Generation and Energy Storage to Improve Power Quality in a Distribution Network,” and “A Lightweight Anonymous Device Authentication Scheme for Information-Centric Distribution Feeder Microgrid.” Thank you to Jesse Kascmarski, Anhao Xiang, Seyyed Ali Ghorashi, Dawn Walaitis, Erick Draayer, Rudy Montoya, and Nitin Bhandari for presenting and congratulations on receiving the NM SMART Grid Center Exceptional Student Award for your outstanding contributions to the project.

Finally, the Symposium concluded with the awards ceremony. New Mexico Academy of Science (NMAS), along with the American Chemical Society, presented the 2021 Outstanding Science Teacher Awards. Since 1968, NMAS has recognized exemplary science teachers who go above and beyond to provide exceptional opportunities for their students’ STEM learning. The 2021 awardees are Meagan Strain, Desert Hills Elementary, Las Cruces Public Schools, and Kerri Thatcher, Jefferson Montessori Academy, a Charter School authorized by Carlsbad Municipal Schools. Ms. Strain is a 5th grade science teacher where she  utilizes hands-on learning and the promotion of equitable science education in the classroom. Ms. Thatcher is a 6-12 grade science teacher who is renowned for her yearly Halloween experiments and encyclopedic Star Wars knowledge. She was instrumental in creating a science fair requirement in 2015 for middle school and secondary students that focused on student interests. In the years since, this humble school science fair has become an annual regional, state, and international fair participated in by both general education and special education students. Congratulations to the 2021 Outstanding Science Teacher award recipients and poster session winners. To view a recording of the session, click here.


This year’s poster competition winners are:

Graduate Category


1st Place

Raisa Islam, NMT, “User Controllable Privacy Management Mechanism in the Smart Grid System: Ontology-based Approach” 


2nd Place

Jesse Kaczmarski, UNM, “Public Support for Community Microgrids”


3rd Place

Jason Banegas, NMSU, “GIS-Based Methods for Electric Vehicle Charging Station Site Selection” 


Undergraduate Category 


1st Place

Michael Nelwood and Jason Platero, NTU, “Fabrication of Low Cost, Paper-Based Electrodes” 


2nd Place

Jason Platero, Michael Nelwood, Khalid Abdelazim, Katelynn Wilson, Jasmin Charley, Makeiyla Begay, Samantha Francis, and Thiagarajan Sounsappan, NTU and Harvard University, “Design and Fabrication of Flexible, Paper-based Electrochemical  Sensors to Detect Heavy Metals in Groundwater” 


3rd Place

Candida Marti, Dimitri Rodriguez and Anthony Franklin, SFCC, ENMU, and CNM, “Machine Learning with Semi-Supervised Outlier Detection Algorithms for Detecting Cyber-Attacks on Smart Grids”


People’s Choice 

Raisa Islam, NMT, “User Controllable Privacy Management Mechanism in the Smart Grid System: Ontology-based Approach” 


Keep an eye out for the New Mexico Journal of Science in early 2022, where all abstracts will be published. 

Thank you to all the poster judges, industry partners, sponsors, and attendees who made this event possible. We look forward to seeing you at the next New Mexico Research Symposium in November 2022.