Harvard Sociology Professor Frank Dobbin will speak Oct. 6 at noon about what works and what doesn’t work to get more women and minorities into leadership positions.
Register for the event here.
Our first year of institutional transformation is coming to an end.
It’s been an amazing journey. We’ve hosted eight workshops and panels, engaged with UNM leaders at various levels, and worked for change on ideas ranging from aligning UNM and APS spring breaks, to decreasing inequities in service loads, to helping search committees find more diverse pools of candidates.
Read our newsletter to find out more about what we’ve been up to.AdvanceNewsletterFall2017 (1)
About one month after its grand opening, the Lobo Rainforest in Downtown Albuquerque building is getting closer to being complete.
Lobo Rainforest features multiple spaces for anyone to rent.
A large, open space suited for networking is present after entering on the north side of the building. This space is $500/hour. There are conference rooms around that offer a little more privacy and start at $40/hour and go up to $100/hour.
In addition, a visualization room with whiteboard walls can be rented for $250/hour.
The 160,000 square-foot building also houses a number of organizations, including Innovation Academy classrooms and the Supporting Technology Transfer and Catalyzing Economic Development at the University of New Mexico. There will soon be a Nusenda credit union branch and a cafe. Space for Sandia National Laboratories and the Air Force Research Laboratory is ready, but neither group has moved in yet.
The second through sixth floors house approximately 100 students, although it has the capacity for about 300 students. All of the businesses are on the first floor.
The building also includes a courtyard.
One of the most noticeable features of Lobo Rainforest is the large number of windows. Every floor features a view of the street below and the Albuquerque area.
The goal of Lobo Rainforest is to provide a state-of-the-art space to connect UNM students in a place to live and work in an environment committed to creating cutting-edge business ventures in a close-knit community.
“We describe our Lobo Rainforest as a human innovation ecosystem in which creativity, business acumen, scientific discovery, investment capital, and other elements come together in a fertile environment that nurture budding ideas so they grow into thriving, sustainable enterprises,” Interim UNM President Chaouki Abdallah has said
Members of the Advance at UNM social science research team are working on innovative ways to promote diversity on the UNM campus, particularly among leadership positions.
To engage leaders at UNM, the group is using the Dobbin-Kalev managerial engagement model of diversity promotion, which is based on their extensive analysis of human resources policies in private corporations.
Universities have not attempted this specific model before.
“Our mission is to examine whether, how and in what ways the Dobbin Kalev model of diversity promotion works in the university context,” said Advance at UNM Deputy Director and UNM political science professor Mala Htun.
The team seeks to assess and apply some of the major findings in the Dobbin Kalev study to the university. According to Htun, “the social science research team’s main mission is to analyze this process, and assess the effects of this process.” One policy that could be borrowed from the Dobbin Kalev model would be to engage managers and leaders in activities such as the recruitment of women and minorities.
To complement their research on diversity policies, team members are also conducting a series of surveys and studies on UNM students, faculty, and leaders. With this information, the Advance research team aims to diagnose problems and better learn how to create a more supportive and productive climate at the university.
“Our research has put us in a position to see what some of the problems are that need to be fixed,” Htun said. “The overall mission of Advance is institutional transformation, with the goal of having more women and minority faculty advance.”
In particular, the research team has begun conducting exit interviews in order to gain sincere opinions on the issues of diversity on campus.
“We consider folks who are exiting the institution an important source of data and information for the overall study,” said Advance co-principal investigator and UNM sociology professor Felipe Gonzales.
It is unclear whether the university has ever lead exit interviews before.
“Historically, UNM has not conducted exit interviews due to a lack of resources, among other reasons,” Htun said.
In addition to examining the Dobbin Kalev model and its application to the university, team members are using the structure of diversity at UNM as a case study.
“That is to get a sense for all the different types of diversity initiatives that can be found in the university, from the highest level of the central administration, down to particular departments and programs,” Gonzales said. The team hopes to find how diversity helps the structural organization of universities and colleges, as well as measure the efficacy of current diversity efforts in these kinds of institutions.
Some of the team’s findings so far suggest that certain UNM leaders within STEM fields were not familiar with diversity policies, yet seemed receptive to the ideas and efforts led by the Advance program.
“The picture is not totally rosy, and there are problem areas, but there are some situations that could probably see some sort of structural improvement,” Gonzales said. Some university leaders have already taken the initial steps to launch diversity programs in certain colleges and departments.
“The Vice Provost in the Office of Research, Dr. Gabriel Lopez, has put out the call for requests for research proposals that involve cross disciplines and non-STEM with STEM projects” Gonzales said.
According to Gonzales, this is an example of diversity in the area of research, which could indirectly encourage other forms of diversity on campus. The social sciences research for Advance will be ongoing during the five years of the project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.
UNM team heads to Swarmathon event
Preparation for the journey to Mars is happening closer to home than you may think. University of New Mexico Computer Science Professor Melanie Moses is the principal investigator and founder for the NASA Swarmathon, a robotic competition at Kennedy Space Center.
Founded in 2016, the NASA Swarmathon is a swarm robotics programming challenge is a cooperative agreement between the NASA Minority University Research and Education Program and the University of New Mexico Moses Biological Computation Lab. The second Swarmathon takes place at the Kennedy Space Center April 18-20, 2017.
Swarm robotics is the coordination of multiple robots to act with a collective behavior that is determined by coding. The robots then rely on communication between each other to respond to changes within the swarm or within the environment in which the robots are working.
Because the robots act autonomously from humans with the programmed code, swarm robots can find and collect resources without human supervision or maps. This capability could be used to clean up hazardous waste, rescue humans from dangerous areas to collect frozen water, minerals and other materials to support human space exploration. The swarm robots used in the Swarmathon, called Swarmies, mimic the movement of ants that Dr. Moses and her team of students developed.
“My research focuses on biologically inspired algorithms, computer code that mimics things that happen in the natural world,” Dr. Moses said. “Specifically we focus on how cooperation emerges among ants without any particular ant in charge.”
The team was able to develop the algorithm by tracking and marking the path of individual ants and looking at general group movement behaviors. Joshua Hecker, a student studying with Moses, took on this project as his doctoral thesis. He used a simulation that described ant movement patterns as they foraged foraging as the foundation for a search algorithm for a team, or “swarm” of small robots. Dr. Hecker and other students in the Moses lab designed and built the iAnts.
Their computer algorithms allowed the robots to remember the location of resources and communicate so that they could search effectively without human supervision. This could be used in future space travel to retrieve resources on the moon or mars, even working to build a habitat.
From that original design of the robot, Dr. Moses and her team developed the competition robots called Swarmies. Swarmies are small robotic vehicles equipped with sensors, a webcam, GPS systems and a Wi-Fi antenna. They measure 30 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm and can be programed to communicate and interact as a collective swarm, according to NASAawarmathon.com
Moses applied for a grant through NASA to start the Swarmathon. The grant was awarded and 424 students from across the country participated in the competition last year.
“One goal of our competition was to compare our ant-inspired algorithm with other approaches that the competing teams develop” Moses said.
The Swarmathon consists of two competitions, a physical competition focused on integrating swarm algorithms with existing hardware and a simulated competition focused on algorithm development.
For the physical competition, each school team is provided with three Swarmie kits to develop and test algorithms. The code created is then sent to Kennedy Space Center where the code is tested on robots at the space center to see which algorithm is able to locate the highest number of resources in a given time.
The simulated competition does not use Swarmie hardware, but instead challenges students to develop search algorithms and use the code in a simulated online environment. Teams in the simulated competition will also be judged on which algorithm is able to locate the highest number of resources in a specified time.
Since receiving the funding from NASA, Swarmie research has become the dominant topic of research Moses’ lab at UNM. UNM students designed and built the original robots, designed the software that runs on the robots and provide competing teams basic code to give them a baseline to build on.
Follow the UNM team on Instagram @UNMSwarmathon.
A group of UNM professors has received the 2017 Women in STEM awards to honor their research in diverse areas of inquiry, including bioengineering, exercise science, biology, linguistics, political science and astronomy and physics.
Among other topics, the winners are studying minority language development, cell division, non-government agencies in Peru and Bolivia, insulin signaling, qualitative comparative analysis, and the detection and treatment of amyloid diseases.
The winners are the second group in a competition that began last year after UNM in 2015 received a donation through the Chicago Community Foundation. The donor requested that the money be used to support research by women STEM faculty. UNM established an endowed account and dedicated the endowment earnings to women STEM faculty.
The Women in STEM (WIS) awards competition was developed through a collaboration between UNM Acting President Chaouki Abdallah, Vice President for Research Gabriel Lopez, and the ADVANCE at UNM program, a five-year National Science Foundation project that promotes women STEM faculty.
The WIS awards seek to assist women STEM faculty at the assistant and associate professor levels to develop new interdisciplinary research and research collaborations. Awards will support new research, travel to visit research collaborators, and for interdisciplinary workshops. Proposals are solicited, reviewed, and then winners selected by a committee consisting of women STEM professors. The Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Research provide support.
“This competition not only allows us to help talented UNM faculty, it provides an opportunity to highlight the wide range of work done by women STEM faculty. We’re looking forward to promoting this year’s awardees,” said Dr. Julia Fulghum, director of ADVANCE at UNM.
This year’s research awards went to:
Eva Chi of the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department for her work to develop theranostic agents for the simultaneous detection and treatment of amyloid diseases, which are the cause of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Her project aims to diagnose and treat these diseases.
Christine Mermier of the Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences Department and Kristina Trujillo of the Cell Biology and Physiology Department for their work on understanding the link between mitochondrial function and insulin signaling. This research could lead to improved insulin signaling in cell culture and even reduce high-fat-diet induced insulin resistance.
Naomi Shin, Barbara Shaffer and Jill Morford of the Linguistics Department to research how children learn minority languages when exposure to the language is limited. This research examines children’s acquisition of two U.S. minority languages, Spanish and American Sign Language, and investigates whether acquisition of grammar is determined by amount of exposure to those languages or by cognitive maturation. The study is also designed to address parental concerns about whether and how often to speak to children in minority languages.
Jami Nelson Nunez of the Political Science Department to investigate interactions between nongovernmental organizations and mayors in decentralized settings around challenges into service delivery. She will investigate the conditions under which collaborations between the mayors and nongovernment organizations are likely to develop. The funding will help provide the means to do field research in cities in Bolivia and Peru.
This year’s travel awards go to Ylva Pihlstrom of the Physics and Astronomy Department and Kendra Koivu of the Political Science Department. Pihlstrom will use the funding to visit the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles to survey stars that will help explore the structure of the galaxy and the Galactic Bulge. Koivu will use the funding to travel to Budapest for a two-week intensive workshop on qualitative comparative analysis. Qualitative comparative analysis is an algorithmic form of qualitative analysis based on a set theory of mathematics that studies collections of concepts as sets.
Michelle Facette of the Biology Department won a seed award to further her work on the development of fluorescent protein marker lines for monitoring cell division in maize. Fluorescent proteins allow protein dynamics to be monitored prior to cell division. This research will help to understand the critical development process through live cell imaging.
Pihlstrom said she’s thrilled to accept her travel award.
“I am very excited and grateful to receive the Women in STEM ADVANCE travel grant,” she said. “This will allow a work week with a collaborator at Jet Propulsion Lab, where we can really focus on iron out our modeling details.
Our project aims to develop a new method of measuring statistical distances to evolved stars using radiative transfer modeling of the stellar light, reprocessed in the circumstellar envelope. Via the calculated properties stellar distances can be derived, which are crucial for, e.g., testing dynamical models of the Milky Way galaxy,” Pihlstrom said.
Nelson Nunez said the award will enable her to conduct qualitative research and pilot a survey of mayors to be conducted this summer in South America.
“I am extremely grateful for the support of WIS for my work and my ideas. The funding comes at a crucial time for me and will allow me to take on a challenging, but relatively unexplored issue around what helps mayors to provide basic services in rural areas, especially in drinking water and improved sanitation.
“I plan to use the award to compare the relationships between mayors and NGOs in Peru and Bolivia to investigate the factors that facilitate collaboration and to examine what types of collaboration have yielded better results in the water and sanitation sector,” Nelson Nunez added.
Read about all the winners here. The call for the 2018 awards will be announced later this year. Visit advance.unm.edu for more information or follow us at @advanceunm.
As long as humans have looked toward the stars, we have wondered what lies beyond our view. Patricia Henning, the associate vice president of research and a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico, has taken a leading role in finding that answer.
Henning was part of a team of scientists from around the globe that discovered 883 new galaxies using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Parkes radio telescope. The group published the results in 2016.
“The Milky Way galaxy has a lot of stars, but also a lot of dust,” Henning said.
“Since the dust blocks everything beyond the disk of the Milky Way, this project used a radio telescope to see beyond the optical realm, deeper into the universe.”
The telescope, which is located in Australia, allows the radio waves to travel beyond the dust and gather data on the galaxies that otherwise couldn’t be seen. This typically obstructed area of the sky is particularly important because it helps to confirm a gravitational anomaly called the Great Attractor.
“The Great attractor is an enormous mass concentration predicted to exist by watching the ways that galaxies move,” Henning said.
“The problem was that there didn’t seem to be a lot of galaxies where it was predicted to be. We realized that nothing could be seen because of the dust, so using the radio telescope we discovered a lot of galaxies in the right place to be a part of the great attractor.”
To pinpoint the galaxies, Henning and a team of UNM graduate students split the data received from the telescope into cube sections. From there, the students analyzed the data looking for major spikes of radio waves, indicative of galaxies.
“The tricky part is that some man made signals like GPS look very similar in the data,” Henning said. “This means we have to scrutinize everything to make sure we have a galaxy. GPS is great for driving, but not so great for discovering galaxies.”
Henning wouldn’t keep all the fun for herself though. One of Henning’s graduate students, Monica Sanchez, is discovering galaxies of her own at UNM by using the Very Large Array, a radio astronomy observatory located in New Mexico.
Sanchez is working on the Cosmos H1 Large Extragalactic Survey (CHILES) project. CHILES is looking at one section of the sky for 1,000 hours to gain a better understanding of neutral hydrogen in the universe. Because of the long exposure time, the data will be able to show galaxies that date back 4.6-billion years.
While discovering galaxies may seem day to day for Henning and Sanchez, there is nothing ordinary about mapping the history of the universe.
“When I tell my friends at school that I discovered a new galaxy, they’re always really excited at first,” Sanchez said. “But after I get into the fine details, their eyes start to become glassy.”
While it may not all be easy to explain, a lot of work goes into huge scientific breakthroughs such as CSIRO’s Parkes project and CHILES. Both Henning and Sanchez highlighted the value that UNM has brought to these discoveries.
“Being a professor at UNM, I have the opportunity to work with diverse and intelligent students everyday. A huge part of what we do is teamwork, even though I have spent a career doing this, sometimes a student with fresh eyes will be able to see something that no one else has.” — Patricia Henning, the associate vice president of research and a professor of physics and astronomy.
After spending her undergraduate career at the University of Costa Rica, Sanchez also has a great respect for UNM.
“UNM has such a collaborative atmosphere,” Sanchez said. “There is always other students and professors willing to collaborate and help.”
Especially with the collaboration at UNM, Henning and Sanchez agreed that students should take every opportunity to build connections in the STEM community.
“Never be afraid to go up and shake someone’s hand,” Henning said. “Go to lectures that sound interesting and afterward, go up to the speaker and making that connection will benefit you in your career.”
Whether just starting to attend lectures, or discovering the hidden secrets of the universe, UNM welcomes all members of the community to engage with people in the STEM fields.
“UNM is so important to everything we do,” Henning said.
“UNM is great,” Sanchez said. “New Mexico is beautiful and the view of space isn’t too shabby either.”
After our fall 2016 survey, we’re collecting stories about UNM faculty loads. We want to hear from you about your service load.
Preliminary results from our fall 2016 survey of UNM faculty indicate that women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) are more likely to report higher service burdens than their male and non-URM counterparts. When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement: “I feel burdened by university service responsibilities beyond those of my colleagues,” 44% of men agree compared with 51% of women and 46% of non-URMs agree compared with 60% of URMs (see Figure 1).
Further, we found evidence to suggest that these differences in perception of service loads may be driven by the pressures women and URMs face to represent people who share their gender or racial/ethnic identities. When asked to agree or disagree with the statement “My colleagues/co-workers expect me to represent the ‘point of view’ of my identity,” a higher proportion of women (45%) than men (29%) agree. Similarly, more URMs (63%) agree that they are expected to represent the point of view of their identity than non-URMs (31%) a difference of more than 30 percentage points (see Figure 2).
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We want to hear more about your experience in this area.
Do you feel like your gender or your race/ethnicity means you are expected to carry a larger explicit or implicit service load? Has service been a positive experience for you? Whatever your experience, we’d like to hear it.
Please send us your story either through our website, at our email address, or at our office – MSC03 2241 on campus. Your responses will remain completely anonymous.
We will use this collection of stories to create a general narrative that we can present to decision makers to help start a conversation about how service loads are assigned, assessed, and counted. (Remember, we’ll be presenting sets of stories that can’t be attributed to any one person).
Help us to understand current experiences of service load and shape the future of faculty service at UNM by sharing your story.
Our latest STEM shoutout goes to several local African American women scientists who were featured on the Feb. 25 episode of Women’s Focus on KUNM. The women shared their experience and perspectives in a variety of STEM fields, from computer science to pharmaceuticals.
According to the KUNM website, the show, called Salute to New Mexico ‘Hidden Figures,’ featured “Dr. Betty Harris, the black inventor and scientist who made great strides in the field of explosives research; Dr. Ndidiamaka Okpareke, the first Black woman to own a compounding pharmacy in New Mexico; Dr. Victoria Erinle, leading scientist in the field of drug delivery systems and clinical trials; Dr. Karissa Culbreath, the pathologist who discovered the Walk Away Specimen Processor for expediting the process for identifying bacterial cultures, and Dr. Melanie Moses, professor at the University of New Mexico who has developed impressive computational and mathematical models of biological systems.”
Hear the show here.
Game-theoretic model combines strategic and technical aspects of cyber attribution
A University of New Mexico computer science professor is co-author of an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that explores how cyber attack victims should best respond.
The article presents a game-theoretic model called the Blame Game, which shows when a victim should tolerate an attack and when it should respond publicly. The best strategic choice depends on the vulnerability of the attacker, the victim’s knowledge level, the potential payoff for various outcomes and the beliefs each player has about its attacker.
The model applies to a wide range of conflicts and provides guidance to policymakers about which parameters must be estimated to make a sound decision about attribution and blame. Analysis of the model suggests that in many cases it may be rational for nations to tolerate cyberattacks, even in the face of strong public criticism. It also shows how imbalances between adversaries’ abilities to trace attacks back to their origin can be destabilizing.
The article will be published in the Feb. 27 online edition of PNAS and comes as the United States faces increasing threats in cyberspace, including the recent widely publicized attacks against the Democratic National Committee and the Chinese theft of databases containing the personal information of 21.5 federal employees. Read the paper here.
“Conflict is increasingly common and severe on the Internet today, as governments and corporations have recognized its potential as an instrument of power and control” said Dr. Forrest, a distinguished professor at the University of New Mexico and an external faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute.
“Unlike nuclear technology, it can be extremely challenging to identify the party responsible for a cyber attack, and this complicates the strategic decision of when to assign blame. Our model elucidates these issues and identifies key parameters that must be considered in formulating a response” Dr. Forrest said.
At UNM, Dr. Forrest directs the Adaptive Computation Laboratory, where she leads interdisciplinary research and education programs, including work on computer security, software engineering, and biological modeling. She is also a member of the Center for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology (CETI) and a co-principal investigator of the Advance at UNM project, which is dedicated to recruiting, retaining and advancing women and minority STEM faculty.
Other authors of the PNAS article include Benjamin Edwards, a recent Ph.D. in Computer Science from UNM, now a postdoctoral researcher at IBM Research; Alexander Furnas, a doctoral student at the University of Michigan’s Department of Political Science and Robert Axelrod, Walgreen Professor for the Study of Human Understanding at the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.