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Santa Fe Event Highlights Graduate Programs in N.M.

SANTA FE, N.M. January 29, 2015 – New Mexico Tech will be well represented in Santa Fe tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 30), as university educators and students from around New Mexico will hold a special Graduate Education Day at the Roundhouse.

Eight students from eight different graduate programs at Tech will have research posters on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Halls of History in the Roundhouse on Friday. They will be joined by graduate students from the other five universities in New Mexico.
The event is intended to bring more attention to the importance of graduate education and research to the economy and workforce in New Mexico.

Dr. Daniel H. Lopez, President of the Council of University Presidents and President of New Mexico Tech in Socorro, will lead a press conference at 11 a.m. in the rotunda of the Roundhouse. He will talk about the impact and importance of graduate studies in New Mexico. He will also introduce officials from other universities and employers, such as Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, both of whom employ many New Mexicans with advanced degrees.

Throughout the day, graduate students will be available to talk to legislators, employers, the press, and the public. Students will be participating from all six state universities that offer graduate programs: Eastern New Mexico University, New Mexico Highlands University, New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University, University of New Mexico, and Western New Mexico University.

New Mexico Tech's Dr. Lorie Liebrock, president-elect of the N.M. Council of Graduate Deans, said this special event is intended to draw attention to the need for graduate education and its impact on New Mexico. Liebrock said she helped organize this first-of-its-kind event because many people aren't aware of how many jobs in N.M. and the nation require advanced degrees and how graduate student research helps drive innovation.

The New Mexico Tech students in attendance:

Olivia Chavez is completing her fourth year of the five year BS/MS program in the Biology Department at New Mexico Tech. She is studying the metagenomics of organisms in uranium-contaminated soil at Laguna Pueblo. She hopes to find a bacterium that can reduce uranium to a non-radioactive state, and thus make the area safer for residents.

Amy Galanter hails from Albuquerque and is currently pursuing her master's in hydrology in the Earth and Environmental Science Department at New Mexico Tech. She is researching the impact of wildfires on watersheds and water quality. The main field site for her research is in the Jemez Mountains where two wildfires recently burned in 2011 and 2013.

Alexander Kent is a research scientist and the program manager for Cyber Security Research and Development at Los Alamos National Laboratory who received a Ph.D. in computer science from New Mexico Tech in 2014. Alex's research focuses on understanding and mitigating cyber threats across large-scale environments (large enterprise or corporate networks) using novel data sources. This research will improve cybersecurity in New Mexico and the nation.

Sohrab Khalifeh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Materials and Metallurgical Engineering Department. His research is focused on slowing the corrosion rate of biodegradable magnesium orthopedic implants. This research requires understanding corrosion mechanisms, controlling the metallurgy, and depositing hydrophobic coating. The results of his research are expected to reduce surgeries and pain for people with implants.

Gabrielle Miller is a Ph.D. candidate in applied and industrial mathematics and a student intern at Sandia National Laboratories. Building on the work done at Los Alamos in the 1940's, her research involves building a mathematical model describing the behavior of shock waves in urban environments, where confinement due to tall buildings can lead to channeling of blasts and worsening of impacts and destruction. Understanding the effects of blast channeling plays an important role in decision-making on a variety of issues, from homeland security to blast-resistant building design and first responder training.

Kelsey Seals is a petroleum engineering master's student from Peralta, N.M. She earned her bachelor's in geology from New Mexico Tech in 2009. She is focusing her thesis on improving hydrocarbon recovery in unconventional reservoirs in southeast New Mexico by studying ways to optimize well completion designs based on rock characteristics. New Mexico Tech's Petroleum Engineering Department is researching a variety of cutting-edge research projects that could impact and enhance New Mexico's oil and gas industry.

Olga Vazquez is a science and technology teacher at Nuestros Valores High School in Albuquerque. She earned a Master of Science for Teachers degree from New Mexico Tech in 2013. For her research, she provided her students with opportunities to learn about available N.M. careers through project-based learning. She helps her students build teamwork and leadership skills in her efforts to prepare her students for academia and the workplace, and to become well rounded and productive members of society.

Stewart Youngblood is a born-and-raised New Mexican who attended Stanford for his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and returned to New Mexico to complete his master's in mechanical engineering at New Mexico Tech. A SMART scholarship recipient, Stewart is constructing a rocket engine and test facility for performance evaluation of environmentally friendly rocket propellants. This facility will establish New Mexico Tech as a premier research institution in space propulsion with research support for Spaceport tenants, NASA White Sands, and the state's National Laboratories.

– NMT –