UNM Student Scholarship that Contributes to Addressing New Mexico’s Grand Challenges

UNM graduate and undergraduate students conduct amazing research. Many of these studies contribute to ensuring more sustainable water resources, reducing the incidence and impact of substance use disorders, and providing for successful aging for all New Mexicans. Below are some examples of this outstanding student research.


In the Spring of 2020, UNM hosted UROC during the period of UNM limited operations. Nearly 50 students submitted their posters and presentations online. Four of these were selected to receive “Excellence in Undergraduate Student Research Awards, Grand Challenges,” including the following:

  • Abigail Axness, Use of Continuous Water Quality Sensors to Examine Headwater Response to Snowmelt: Valles Caldera and Jemez Mountains.
  • Ilona Nathania Alisudjana, Assessing Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Treatments among Native and Non-Native Communities.
  • Spencer McBee, Recreational Cannabis: Potential Factors of Expansion and Potential Effects.



During the Spring of 2020, Grand Challenges collaborated with COMM 1130 instructors Evan Ashworth and Nana Kwame Osei Fordjour to encourage undergraduate students to engage with one or more of the three challenges. Students were assigned a speech that focuses the importance of the challenges. Originally, these speeches were designated for delivery in the SUB. However, due to the pandemic, students instead recorded their speeches and posted them online. Six presentations were selected to receive recognition for “Excellence in Undergraduate Student Scholarship, Grand Challenges.” Among the six award winners are: Melissa Door-Rodriguez and Issa Bustria.




  • Anwar, Ishtiaque. Degree program: PhD in Civil Engineering.
    A new approach for sealing crude oil leakage through wellbore cement fracture.
    Co-Authors: John C. Stormont, Mahmoud Reda Taha.

  • Colvin, Tucker. Degree program: Geography and Environmental Studies.
    Governance and Status of New Mexico's Rural Drinking Water Systems.
    Collaborators: Dr. Benjamin Warner, Amy Jones, Rachel Sanchez, and Indu Roychowdhury.

  • Cooeyate, Norman. Degree program: Master of Community and Regional Planning.
    Engaging the 7th Generational Model in Honoring Traditional Leadership Knowledge.
    Faculty mentors: Renia Ehrenfeucht, Ph.D., Professor and Chair CRP Department; Theodore (Ted) Jojola, Ph.D., Professor CRP & Director of iD+Pi.

  • Kindilien, Shannon. Degree program: Health Economics and Outcomes Research.
    Potentially Inappropriate Prescribing of Proton Pump Inhibitors Among Older Patients in the US.
    Co-Author: Cheng Chen

  • Liu, Zhuoming. Degree program: MS Geography.
    Classifying livestock grazing behavior and GIS-modeling potential cumulative risks from exposure to Abandoned Uranium Mine Waste in the Cove Wash Watershed, Arizona, USA.

  • Maphis, Nicole. Degree program: Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BSGP).
    pT181-Qß vaccine reduces pathological Tau and rescues cognitive deficits in a mouse model of tauopathy.
    Co-Authors: Julianne Peabody, Erin Crossey, MD, PhD, Shanya Jiang, PhD, Fadi Jamaleddin Ahmad, Maria Alvarez, Amanda Yaney, Yirong Yang, PhD, Laurel Sillerud, PhD, Colin Wilson, Reed Selwyn, PhD, Jonathan L. Brigman, PhD, Judy L. Cannon, PhD, David S. Peabody, PhD, Bryce Chackerian, PhD and Kiran Bhaskar, PhD). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41541-019-0118-4

  • Marziliano, Adrian. Degree program: Water Resources Program
    Probing through woods on a snowy transect: Measuring snow depth variability across forest-stand boundaries in a moderate snowpack.
    Co-Author and Research Mentor: Ryan Webb

  • Park, Bokyung. Degree program: Nanoscience & Microsystem Engineering.
    Biomimetic Electrospun Films for Effective Radiative Cooling Under Sunlight.
    Co-Authors: In Chul Um, Sang M. Han, Sang Eon Han.

  • Read, Kaitlyn. Degree program: Nanoscience and Microsystems Engineering.
    Novel methods for measuring drought stress of crops in the field.
    Co-authors: Patrick Hudson, Philip Miller, David Hanson.

  • Specht, Samantha. Degree program: Occupational Therapy Graduate Program.
    Semmes-Weinstein sensory testing at the fingertip: Should 2.83 be the norm?
    Co-authors: Kaitlyn P. Casaus, Elizabeth I. Madrid, Michelle W. Randall. Research mentor: Dr. Patricia C Siegel.


  • Griego, Cory. Degree program: Biology (now continuing at UNM Central Campus)
    Investigation of groundwater chemistry at agriculturally and urban impacted sites in Valencia County, New Mexico.
    Research Advisors: Dr. Kevin Hobbs and Dr. Ben Flicker

  • Nevarez, Aida. Degree program: Biology.
    Metagenomic analysis of biological diversity near Rio Grande wastewater effluent discharge sites.
    Research Advisor: Dr. Ben Flicker

  • Sanchez, Nicolette. Degree program: Biochemistry.
    A survey of antimicrobial resistance genes from bacteria derived from the middle Rio Grande.
    Research Advisor: Dr. Ben Flicker