WNMU Biology Student Interns at NASA

Western New Mexico University biology student Nicolas Farley interned with the NASA Earth Science Division this summer. “I definitely didn’t realize how prestigious the program was when I applied. There were 28 students from across the U.S., most of which came from Ivy League schools,” he said. Farley worked in a flying laboratory made from a retrofitted DC-8 aircraft and collected air samples from over southern California. “As part of the Whole Air Sampling Crew, I would open and close vacuumed out stainless-steel cans then take the samples back to lab and plug them into spectrometer to figure out what was in the air. We measured around 100 different chemicals that affect air quality,” he said. Beyond that, Farley networked with scientists involved in world-renowned projects and discoveries, getting his foot in the door with an organization known for space exploration — one of Farley’s biggest interests. “One the things I want to get into is movement into...

Former WNMU Dean of Students and Mustang Basketball Coach James R. Smith To Address Graduates

Western New Mexico University will graduate 267 of its students this fall. Of those, 173 graduates will walk across the Fine Arts Center Theatre stage during the fall commencement ceremony on Friday, December 13, 2019, at 2 p.m. They will receive their diplomas then shake hands with WNMU President Dr. Joseph Shepard and with former WNMU Dean of Students and Mustang basketball coach James R. Smith, who is the fall commencement speaker and will be presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Doors to the Fine Arts Center Theatre will open at 1 p.m. Overflow seating will be provided in the Global Resource Center auditorium and in Light Hall Auditorium. The program will be streamed live at both locations for the benefit of fall WNMU graduates’ extended family members and friends. Diplomas being granted at the fall 2019 commencement ceremony include those for 23 associate degrees, 125 bachelor’s degrees, 117 master’s degrees, 22 certificates and 46 graduate...

Summer Research Experience Step Toward Med School for Aspiring Orthopedic Surgeon

Cell molecular biology and chemistry senior Brenda Dominguez participated in the New Mexico Idea Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) Summer Experience this year. Her poster presentation, Antimicrobial properties of bacteria isolated from NMSU Intramural Fields soil samples, earned her the Outstanding Undergraduate award at the program’s concluding symposium. “I want to do med school. Usually having some sort of research experience helps you stand out,” she says of why she applied for this summer research project. “This program introduced me to Ph.D. programs and the different possibilities out there.” Brenda was trying to find new antibiotics in soil, specifically ones that would treat infections picked up in hospitals. “That’s how the first antibiotic was found by accident. We were trying to see if anything else we isolated would have antibiotic properties,” she says. Learning new techniques and tools was a challenge, Brenda says, and so was the...

Student Contributes to Pioneer of Cell-Based HIV-1 Mutant Studies

Christian Topete is conducting research that could aid in vaccination development studies for what is classified today as untreatable HIV-1. He is in his senior year under a partnership that allows biotechnology students at Glendale Community College to earn bachelor’s degrees from Western New Mexico University. Since being admitted to the program, Christian has taken at least one WNMU-based class each semester, also starting summer classes through WNMU. “I’m taking immunology now, and what I learned in my previous classes is coming into play,” he says. This summer, he took a research internship at CSU. “The main goal of the lab was to characterize drug resistance in HIV Type 1,” he says. “My project was working with clinically isolated protease mutants. These were from patients who had untreatable HIV. This is a pioneer of cell-based HIV mutant studies.” Because this is one of the first cell-based protease mutant research projects ever, there are no other...

Drawing I Students Make WNMU Museum Their Studio

At Western New Mexico University, which is the state’s only Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences university, students learn to ask fundamental questions like: Where did we come from? What is our purpose? How should I live? Now, in a collaboration between a beginners’ drawing class and the WNMU Museum, they are learning to ask another question: What is art? In keeping with the Applied Liberal Arts and Sciences philosophy, students are exploring the answer through connecting with artifacts that may be religious, scientific — and depending on the perspective — creative. After getting an overview of the WNMU Museum collections, they each chose a piece or grouping of pieces to draw, setting up their easels on site and bedding down in the museum, their studio for a few weeks. “This interdisciplinary project has students engaging with another discipline while developing their drawing skills, a combo designed to encourage critical thought and provoke amazement,” instructor...

Dr. Benjamin J. Cline To Present at National Communication Association Convention

WNMU Associate Professor of Speech and Communication Dr. Benjamin J. Cline is traveling to Baltimore next week to present two items at the National Communication Association Convention. He’ll discuss how he went about creating a communication program at WNMU when there was not one. And, he’ll present a paper on how Paul the Apostle used rhetoric to create a notion of “soul” that has been important in Western thinking. The information Dr. Cline will share as part of the panel could almost be boiled down to “Launching a Communication Minor in Ten Easy Steps.” He was hired for a one-year position in 2010. While his sole duties were to teach freshman public speaking, he proved himself in that role and then recruited enough students to fill communication courses that were accidentally left in the course catalog, demonstrating the market for those classes and moving to offering the whole minor online, where growth was possible. He made friends with his colleagues, who began...

WNMU School of Nursing simulation lab run by local veteran

Nursing students at Western New Mexico University learn through scenarios former combat medic and military contractor Lorenzo Saenz creates using high fidelity manikins who he can program to breathe, bleed, wheeze and sweat. The technology Saenz implements ensures WNMU is poised to integrate the big changes in nurse training methods that he believes are just around the corner. “It’s an exciting time to be in the field,” he said. A native of southwest New Mexico, Lorenzo’s military career took him around the world — from as nearby as El Paso to as far as Afghanistan. The Army veteran was a contractor working for the Australian Defense Force in Dubai when he decided to move back to the Land of Enchantment. “I missed green chile and the open blue skies and juniper,” he said. Saenz graduated from the WNMU nursing program in 2018 and worked in the Gila Regional Medical Center emergency room for a year before being recruited to work at his alma mater. “You always...

Student Veteran Works Toward Welding Degree

Welding student Luz Ponce is from Mexico and grew up in Silver City. She joined the Marines straight out of high school. “When my parents immigrated, the United States gave us so much, I wanted to repay that with my service,” she says. Luz served two years in North Carolina as a helicopter mechanic. “It was a good experience but also very strenuous, more mentally than physically. Everything had to be right or it could fall out the sky,” she says. Her favorite welding process is MIG because “it’s the only one I’m good at.” When she finishes her associate degree, she aims to land a traveling welding job. “In the Marine Corps, we were always going from place to place, so I feel like that would be more comfortable for me.” Luz works on cars in her free time. “Mostly the Japanese imports, they’re so much...

New Endowed Scholarship Supports WNMU Students Needing Second Chance

The Western New Mexico University Foundation and the family of Tadeusz Westawic signed an endowed scholarship agreement on Tuesday, August 6. The agreement establishes a fund in memory of Westawic, who believed that education should be accessible to those who were willing to seek it and to those needing a second chance. “With an initial gift contribution of $15,000, the family endowed this scholarship to help keep alive Tadeusz’ spirit of generosity, faith in education, and belief in the magic of curiosity,” WNMU Foundation Executive Director Jodi Edens-Crocker said. The new Tadeusz Westawic Memorial Scholarship is designed for non-traditional WNMU students starting or returning to college or working on a degree for a second career. Westawic, who was also known as Tom Hillman-West, taught GED math classes at WNMU, helping adults get the educations they needed to move forward in life. “He believed that everybody deserves a second chance,” said his daughter...

Samuel Davenport Created Proposal for Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project

Samuel Davenport was encouraged to apply for the BUILDing Scholars summer program at UTEP by WNMU Undergraduate Research Coordinator Joe Doyle and assistant psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Johnston. The sophomore psychology student and WNMU Presidential Scholar says, “They felt like through this program, I could gain a true understanding of whether psychology was the route I wanted to go.” Samuel spent the summer months in El Paso, where he was partnered with a doctor of social work and took a course in which one of the assignments was to create a proposal for a Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project. Volunteering on the nightshifts at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, he got to know the city’s homeless population. “The Opportunity Center is the only place that takes in all individuals no matter their condition. The front desk is like the fishing net. It catches all the individuals falling through the...