Advance at UNM 2020 year in review

The one where we all stayed home

While 2020 brought many unforeseen moments, women and minority STEM faculty at the University of New Mexico rose to the challenge of producing and sharing their work in a variety of fields including engineering, epidemiology and history.


Some of their work focused on the pandemic while other publications and presentations centered on existing research in STEM fields.


Here are some highlights of work from around campus during this unusual year. 


Advance’s workshops this year started with Dr. Nancy Lopez presenting a workshop on applying intersectionality to your next proposal.


“If we want to understand inequality in order to advance equity-based policy and practice, we need to understand that it’s complicated,” López said in February when addressing the need to consider intersectionality in research during the workshop. 


As the world switched to Zoom workshops and online-only work environments, UNM alumna Maria Guy spoke about Leading Yourself During the Pandemic  and UNM faculty Melanie Moses and Sonia GipsonRankin led a workshop on the Algorithmic Justice Project.


With the pandemic also came new ideas for research and women at UNM rose to the challenge of combating COVID-19 — and the misinformation that accompanied it — head on. 


Dr. Heather Canavan helped to stop the use of denatured alcohol, a highly toxic substance, in hand sanitizer. Maxwell Museum curator Dr. Devorah Romanek created a virtual exhibition to place the pandemic in a historical context. Dr. Melanie Moses was funded by the NSF to understand the human lungs after COVID-19 infection. Dr. Helen Wearing was interviewed by the New York Times about her thoughts on New Mexico’s early response to the pandemic. 


Advance at UNM announced eight UNM faculty for the annual Women in STEM awards during the summer — Dr. Rebecca Bixby, Dr. Tara Drake, Dr. Heather Edgar, Dr. Tamar Ginossar, Dr. Maryam Hojati, Dr. Mousumi Roy, Dr. Lani Tsinnajinnie and Dr. Jin Zhang.


“This was the largest and most diverse group of proposals we’ve received yet. We’re excited that the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering partnered with us on these awards, given the tough decisions the selection committee had to make. We look forward to celebrating these eight faculty in the fall,” Advance director Julia Fulghum said at the time.


Advance also released a report in August that looked at how COVID is amplifying the challenges of work-life balance that parent faculty members face. The survey of faculty found them struggling to adapt to working and teaching at home while providing care for children and other family members. The report also made several recommendations including flexible work schedules, minimal service commitments and adjustments to the promotion and tenure process during the pandemic.


Including the Women in STEM winners, Advance at UNM featured the research, work, and accomplishments of nearly 60 women and minority faculty at UNM on its website. This was also the fourth year Advance featured 31 STEM Shoutouts in 31 days throughout August  and promoted the work of those faculty on our social media sites. 

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