In 2005, Heather Canavan was hired as an Assistant Professor by the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering with support from NM EPSCoR through RII2 NM NEW – an award focused on developing nanoscience and hydrology capacity within the state. For Heather, EPSCoR functioned much like a wood brace does for a newly planted tree sapling.
Like many events and meetings across the world, the NM SMART Grid Center annual All Hands Meeting (AHM) shifted from face to face to virtual space seemingly overnight. As news of school closures and other mandates were announced in March, the unparalleled shift to home and online rippled across our lives, taking meetings and classes with it. While we were excited to gather all team members in one space to communicate progress and look towards the future, safety and health are the top priority.
All of our lives have changed in response to the latest pandemic. With respect to EPSCoR, most of us are working from home and are learning how to social-distance, video-conference with colleagues, and use Slack and other tools to maintain some semblance of normality in our workday. Upcoming EPSCoR meetings such as the All Hands Meeting, NSF Reverse Site Visit and, most likely, the New Mexico EPSCoR State Committee Meeting will become virtual—i.e., Zoom conference calls. In short, our way of life has changed, seemingly overnight and we do not yet see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are roughly 140 team members on this project and ~56% are students. Based on new team member form data, roughly 20% of our students are parents and 47% are first-generation college students. Faculty and postdocs are the second largest group, representing ~26% and technical/non-technical support staff come in third at 18% of the total. Many of these individuals are also parents or caregivers.
In summer 2018, the National Science Foundation (NSF) called upon the scientific community, nonprofits, industry members, and general public to participate in the NSF 2026 Idea Machine competition, a contest designed to help set the U.S. agenda for fundamental research in science and engineering.