STEM Shoutout: Dr. Maria Lane

Geography professor to open center for community geography


Dr. Maria Lane, a recently promoted professor in UNM’s Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, is set to open a student focused center for community geography in the next year.


Lane’s research focuses on environmental knowledge in historical contexts. She studies claims from different actors such as scientists, policymakers, or the public that claim things are true about the environment.


“These claims can then be disputed or challenged by others, or modified with new claims, in what becomes a process of knowledge-making over time,” Lane said. “[It’s] a very interesting and dynamic process, which is fascinating both in the past and present.”


R. H. Mallory Center for Community Geography has a small donor funding that has been used to start the center and it’s going to be student focused, including undergraduate and graduate students. 


“I’m really excited about doing this and really focusing attention on it because it is the kind of thing that I will now have more freedom to do, and focus more on community engagement,” Lane said. “I think it’s really important for UNM and my department to do this type of project.”


The center will focus on three things: community engaged teaching, community engaged research, and public outreach events. 


“It’s at the very early stages, we are just finishing the paperwork to officially create the center.  As a full professor, now relieved of the constraints of having to get your dossier in order, this is where I want to spend my energy,” Lane said. “I want to explore this. I love my scholarship and will continue to write and publish, but for me this is a really exciting new direction to go.”


The biggest change for Lane after being promoted to professor will be having more responsibilities including mentoring junior faculty, and changing her focus to new projects after finishing her dossier. She feels there will be more resources available for her and a new perspective for work possibilities at the university. 



Update as of 11/18/2020:

The R.H. Mallory Center for Community Geography just launched their new website ( and social media pages on Twitter (@NMCommunityGeog) and Instagram (@NMCommunityGeog).
This donor-funded center is already working with pilot projects to bring community engagement into spring 2021 GES classes, and will announce more funding opportunities for students and faculty in the spring.