Women Create a Thriving Culture of Research at WNMU

Drs. Jennifer Johnston and Corrie Neighbors mentor student researchers while also pursuing their own research.

© Western New Mexico University

With women leading the way, students and professors are engaging in a variety of independent research projects at WNMU. From the two professors measuring the impact of a whole-family approach to math education to the social work faculty member who studied a population that crosses the border for schooling, faculty are investigating what interests them. Others, like Drs. Jennifer Johnston and Corrie Neighbors, mentor student researchers while also making their own queries.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Jennifer Johnston’s study of the relationship between news coverage and mass shootings led to a national campaign requesting the media adopt a policy discouraging the use of any mass shooter’s name or likeness due to the evidence that perpetrators are motivated by a desire for fame. Dr. Johnston has presented her findings across the nation, making frequent media appearances herself, and even sharing her expertise with the Federal Commission on School Safety in 2018. With WNMU Student Research and Professional Development funds, she hired a student as a research assistant to help analyze coverage of three mass shootings that have occurred since 2017 and find whether her work on media contagion has made a difference. “Teaching can become repetitive, but with research, there’s always a new question to answer,” she said.

Assistant Professor of Geology and Geographic Information Systems Dr. Corrie Neighbors has a diverse background that makes her a well-rounded researcher, plus with GIS know-how, she helps students across disciplines research “anything that can be located in space” and analyze those relationships or features. The projects Dr. Neighbors and her mentees work on apply directly to the local community. Dr. Neighbors mentored one student through a hydrology research project focused on the paths and contaminant content of floodwaters in the university/downtown area. She helped another look at food security issues and whether The Commons as a Silver City food pantry is optimally located for the main users. Last summer, Dr. Neighbors had a student geocoding addresses for the Town of Silver City. “I like to see our research actually help inform policy,” she said.

Western New Mexico University is celebrating Women’s History Month in March by profiling the female movers and shakers in the Mustang community online and in the Spring 2020 Westerner, themed Women Of Western. To read more about woman-led research at WNMU, subscribe to or flip through a digital copy of the WNMU alumni magazine here.

To learn more about what Dr. Johnston and other female researchers are discovering at WNMU, attend the “Women in Research” presentation on Wednesday, March 11. Details are available here.

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