WRITER: Darrell J. Pehr
Eight wide-ranging interdisciplinary projects by New Mexico State University researchers were awarded with Interdisciplinary IMPACT Mini-Grants in December.
Funded through a partnership between NMSU’s Provost Dan Howard and Interim Vice President for Research Luis A. Vázquez, the Mini-Grants Program is designed to stimulate interdisciplinary research projects that will build a foundation of collaboration among NMSU researchers in addressing complex problems.
“Increasingly, the scientific community is turning its attention to solving complex interdisciplinary problems that require collaboration among investigators from a variety of disciplines,” Howard said. “For NMSU to remain relevant in this research environment, it is critical for the university to encourage collaboration and the formation of interdisciplinary research teams that can address grand challenges.”
Vázquez said one goal is to build a new level of collaboration that will lead to greater success in obtaining funding from sources such as federal and state agencies; and foundation, donor and industry opportunities.
“We are excited to see how these intra-university grant collaborations will result in a strengthening of the NMSU research enterprise,” Vázquez said.
The grants are going to projects ranging from high-bandwidth networks in the College of Engineering to brain function in older adults in the College of Education. NMSU faculty members Yong Woo An in the Department of Kinesiology and Dance and David Mitchell in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are leading these efforts. Team members with An include James Kroger, psychology, student Mary Berg and David W. Keeley, kinesiology and dance. Mitchell’s team includes Satyajayant Misra, computer science, Abderrahmen Mtibaa, computer science, along with ECE students Charles Good, Xaviar Enriquez and Ahmad Golmohammadi.
A project in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, led by Erik Lehnhoff in the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, examines the role of the soil microbial community in driving plant invasions. Lehnhoff’s team members include Nicole Pietrasiak, Plant and Environmental Sciences, and Donovan Bailey, biology.
Other projects in the College of ACES relate to the impact of Southern New Mexico dietary practices on the gut (Ivette Guzman, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences); edible safety of produce in Farmington (April Ulery, PES); and a technique for the detection of food-borne pathogens (Efren Delgado, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences). Guzman’s team includes Mary O’Connell, PES, Brigit O’Donnell, FCS, and Lois Stanford, anthropology. Ulery’s team includes Alyce Matthews, FCS, Kevin Lombard, Agricultural Science Center at Farmington, and Sylvia Gabriela Phillips, Extension Home Economics. On Delgado’s team are Stuart Munson-McGee, FCS, and Gary Rayson, chemistry and biochemistry.
A project in the College of Arts and Sciences, led by Kenneth Hacker in the Department of Communication Studies, examines post-deployment military family reintegration interventions. Hacker’s team includes Tim Ketelaar, psychology, David Boje, management, and Dani Halliwell, communication studies. Civil Engineering researcher Yanyan Zhang is looking into the transfer of antibiotic resistance via phage-related mobile elements in wastewater treatment plants. Zhang’s team includes Mingzhou (Joe) Song, ECE, and Jiannong Xu, biology.
Vázquez said a key element of the program is to spark collaboration between early career and senior faculty as well as departments and colleges by providing funding and resources to develop innovative, results-driven research/scholarship programs and projects.
Project proposals were evaluated based on collaboration between senior and early career faculty, innovation, intellectual merit and broader impact. Broader impact included the potential to benefit society through teaching and training; the participation of groups under-represented in the sciences; and/or results that will improve the health and well-being of society.
Grants for the 2017-2018 academic year ranged from $25,000 to $40,000. Future grants will depend on the availability of funding.