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Chemistry

Jeff Altig

Jeff Altig is an associate professor of chemistry and the director of the Chemistry Laboratories. Dr. Altig's work involves the development of curricula for the chemistry laboratory and computational chemical modeling. He constructs laboratory curricula that are modern, novel and cross-divisional is the goal. In the area of modeling, he works on computational models involving quantum chemical and biophysical calculations using commercial software such as Gaussian or Autodock, as well as software developed in-house.

Altig has won the Distinguished Teaching Award from NMT, the top such award at the institute. Altig earned his bachelor’s in biochemistry at the University of Oregon and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Wisconsin. He returned to academia after 20 years in the software industry.

Michael Heagy

Dr. Michael Heagy is a chemistry professor whose research specialties includes dual fluorescent dyes. He and his students have created new dyes that emit two different colors, which has many applications in science and industry. His research has been featured in several popular science magazines and websites.

Heagy earned his bachelor’s at Franklin and Marshall College in 1990 and his Ph.D. at the University of Southern California in 1995. He completed a post-doc at M.I.T. before coming to New Mexico Tech. Heagy was named the Distinguished Researcher of the Year in 2014. He is also well-versed on the history of higher education in America and how chemists made positive impacts on university culture and trends.

Sally Pias

Dr. Sally Pias is an assistant professor in the Chemistry Department. Her research group uses high-performance computing to investigate mechanisms of biomolecular function through simulations of structural dynamics. Her current research is biomedically related, with a special interest in high-membrane cholesterol in cancer pathology, as well as the connection between insulin resistance and saturated fat accumulation in skeletal muscle.

Dr. Pias earned her bachelor’s and master’s at Emery University, and her Ph.D. at New Mexico State University. She completed a post-doc in computing innovation at Stony Brook University.

Praveen Patidar

Praveen Patidar is an assistant professor of chemistry at NMT. The Patidar lab is interested in developing anti-cancer drugs that create DNA damage and trigger cell death exclusively in cancer cells. Interdisciplinary approaches including protein biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, cancer biology, genomics, and proteomics are routinely employed to drive current research projects.

Patidar earned his bachelor’s from Holkar Science College and his master’s from Devi Ahilya University. He earned his Ph.D. in biochemistry from New Mexico State University.

Menake Piyasena

Menake Piyasena is an assistant professor of chemistry at NMT. Dr. Piyasena leads a multidisciplinary research group focused on developing novel bioanalytical and biomedical techniques important for disease diagnosis, pathogen detection, and analysis of bio-molecular interaction.

His group is also interested in new instrument development using microfluidic and acoustic techniques. Dr. Piyasena’s group has active collaborations with the Center for Biomedical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, and a startup company to build inexpensive microfluidic systems for BioMEMS applications.

He earned his bachelor’s from the University of Kelaniya and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of New Mexico. He completed post-docs at Cal State-Los Angeles, the University of Maryland, and the University of New Mexico.

Mahinda Ranasinghe

Mahinda Ranasinghe is an assistant professor of chemistry at NMT. His research group is centered on physical chemistry and spectroscopy.  Yet our research is predominantly multidisciplinary. Student researchers use spectroscopic techniques to characterize the optoelectronic properties of nanoparticles, chromophore metal complexes, quantum dots and nano-conjugates.

Ranasinghe earned his bachelor’s at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and his Ph.D. from Wayne State University in Detroit. He completed post-docs at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Arizona State University. 

Gayan Rubasinghege

Gayan Rubasinghege is an assistant professor of chemistry at NMT. His research revolves around nanomaterial, polymer composite and environmental chemistry. He and his students aim to better understand the impact of mineral oxides and engineered nanoparticles on environmental process. One of his projects focuses on the impact of metal oxides and engineered nanoparticles on aquatic life and human health. These interdisciplinary studies specifically focus on the chemistry of metal oxides in mineral dust as a source of trace metals to aquatic life.

Rubasinghege earned his bachelor’s in chemistry at the University of Kelaniya and his Ph.D. in physical and environmental chemistry at the University of Iowa.

Rudolfo Tello-Aburto

Dr. Rudolfo Tello-Aburto is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. His research focuses on the biological processes in disease inception, progression, and resistance development. His group is developing bioactive molecules that improve health and have desirable pharmacological outcomes.

Dr. Tello-Aburto earned his bachelor’s at Universidad Veracurzana, his master’s at Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He also completed post-docs at the University of Minnesota and New Mexico State University.

Oliver Wingenter

Dr. Oliver Wingenter is a professor in the Department of Chemistry. His research group has measured more than 60 climate-relevant gases in field experiments during NASA and NSF airborne and shipborne research campaigns. His group uses these data to develop models that better explain the Earth’s climate under past, present, future, and geo-engineered conditions.

Dr. Wingenter earned his bachelor’s from San Jose State University, and his Ph.D. from the University of California-Irvine. He completed a post-doc at Georgia Tech.