Four UNM scientists selected for the 2019 Women In STEM awards

Winning projects will examine artificial photosynthesis, the New Mexico pottery trade, physics retention rates and local rental market conditions

Four scientists at the University of New Mexico have been selected for the 2019 Women in STEM awards. Their work includes research on an artificial leaf that can generate solar energy, efforts to improve the retention rates of UNM students in the physics program and an analysis of Cibola ceramics from Chaco Canyon. Another selected proposal will further local understanding of rental housing and property management in Albuquerque.

The recipients this year include Dr. Darcy Barron, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Sakineh Chabi, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Dr. Hannah Mattson, an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology.

The Women in STEM awards are hosted by Advance at UNM in cooperation with the Office of Academic Affairs. Advance is a five-year National Science Foundation grant to recruit, retain and promote women and minority STEM faculty, Now in their fourth year, the WIS awards so far have totaled more than $215,000.

Julia Fulghum, director of Advance at UNM, said the selected proposals reflect the scope of work being done by women scientists and engineers on campus.

“Selecting the Women in STEM awards is something we look forward to every year. Unusually, this year all of the winners are assistant professors in their first or second year. The winning projects will contribute to the development of competitive federal research grants and help develop successful research programs. ADVANCE at UNM looks forward to announcing their future successes.”

UNM Interim Provost Richard L. Wood said he’s excited about the work the winners will do.

“I congratulate the winners on behalf of UNM Academic Affairs. Partnering with ADVANCE at UNM on the Women in STEM program and the tremendous leadership team that supports it creates a great opportunity to assist and celebrate the scholarship of UNM’s women STEM faculty. We are grateful for the donation that makes this work possible and for the visionary women who continue to advance UNM’s academic mission.”

Funding for the award is supported by an anonymous gift made to UNM to support research by, and professorships for, women faculty in science, technology, engineering, and math. Income from the gift will be used to help UNM women tenure-track and tenured assistant and associate STEM professors to establish new lines of research and to develop research collaborations.

The 2019 winners will be recognized with a ceremony this fall. The selected proposals are:

— “Improving Physics Retention Rates through Early Undergraduate Research Experiences at UNM,” Dr. Darcy Barron, PI.

Barron said her award will enable her “to create new partnerships with experts in STEM education, and develop new evidence-based strategies for our university.” Her project was awarded $10,000.

“I am excited and honored that my proposal was awarded for an important aspect of my work, supporting undergraduate research and increasing student retention rates,” she said.

— “Design and Synthesis of Artificial Leaf for Solar Fuel Generation,” Dr. Sakineh Chabi, PI.

Chabi said her work aims to synthesize a fully integrated membrane-based artificial leaf. Her project was awarded $10,000.

Artificial photosynthesis is a technology that uses sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into renewable fuels, such as hydrogen, methanol, and hydrocarbons, which can be used directly as transportation fuels, raw materials for industry, or for electricity generation in fuel cells, Chabi said.

Chabi said she’s “very grateful to receive this award, and I appreciate the support by the Women in STEM committee. I plan to use this funding to test new materials and get preliminary data. The results will be used to support proposals to the NSF, and other agencies.”

— “Experiences of Rental Housing and Property Management in Albuquerque,” Dr. Elizabeth Korver-Glenn, PI.

Korver-Glenn said “findings from this portion of the study will illuminate how historically understudied groups, such as Hispanics/Latinos and Native Americans, access rental housing and experience property management in Albuquerque.” Her project was awarded $8,990.

Korver-Glenn said she’s looking forward to the data her project on rental properties will yield.

“I’m honored to receive this award and thrilled to be able to conduct research on the local and national dynamics of property management,” Korver-Glenn said.

“I look forward to working with local stakeholders in Albuquerque as well as with the U.S. Census as we seek to deepen our understandings of experiences of renting and property management and how to best collect data on renters and property managers,” she said.

— “Tracing the Movement of Early Pueblo Pottery across the Southern San Juan Basin: Preliminary Compositional Analysis of Cibola Ceramics from Chaco Canyon,” Dr. Hannah Mattson, PI. Her project was awarded $9,250.

Mattson said funding for her project will be used to initiate a new research project on the trade of pottery vessels between Chaco Canyon and the southern San Juan Basin between the 10th and 12th centuries.

“As a new assistant professor, I am grateful for the support to explore new and exciting avenues of research in my field and expand my current skill set,” she said.

“I will use chemical compositional data from both ceramic artifacts and clay deposits to identify which settlements produced pottery exported to the canyon. One of the exciting aspects of this project is that it’s local—it will help us to better understand the socioeconomic organization and integration of New Mexico’s past communities,” Mattson said.

To date, 31 women at UNM have been honored with the award.

Learn more about past winners and how you can help support the awards here.