Graduate Research

MSC 03 2180
Humanities Bldg, Suite 107
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Phone: (505) 277-2711
Fax: (505) 277-7405

Undergraduate Research

MSC06 3680
University Advisement & Enrichment Center, University College Suite 180
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: 505-277-0428

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Project Title: Information Flow in Virtual Machines

Research Area: Virtual Machines, Information Flow, Instrumentation

Project Description: An ability to dynamically track the flow of information in application software is an essential capability needed to control how information is used in a processor environment. The challenge is greater when the processor is a virtual machine executing in a cloud computing system. This research will apply Pin instrumentation and analysis capabilities to dynamically detect and selectively control how information flows in this environment.


Project Title: Semantic Computing Applied to Situation Awareness

Research Area: semantic web, semantic computing, programming, information fusion, situation awareness

Project Description: This project involves the application of semantic computing concepts to the problem of situation assessment. The work will include information fusion, from sensor and other data generated from a wide variety of sources, integration into a semantic framework, followed by assessment of this information so as to focus attention on possible threats present in the operating environment.


Project Title: Micromanipulation with Compliant Actuators

Research Area: micromanipulation; bio-applications; compliant actuators

Project Description: The project explores the challenge of grasping and releasing objects when gravity is 3-5 orders of magnitude smaller than the adhesive forces, e.g., surface tension, on an object


Project Title: How does active engagement in online discussion boards reinforce graduate student ability to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, to ask and seek answers on important and challenging questions, and to persist in the resolution of problems of practice?

Research Area: educational leadership, online learning, critical thinking

Project Description: Collect and analyze data to determine the relationship between engagement in online discussion boards (DBs) and the leadership dispositions, understandings, and practices of graduate students


Project Title: Expanding transborder pedagogies: An analysis of Chicana/Mexicana feminist ontologies and epistemologies

Research Area: feminisms; ontology; epistemology; pedagogy

Project Description: This project set out to examine theoretical and literary works Chicana and Mexicana feminist scholars and activists. Analysis of relevant documents sought to identify ontological and epistemological concepts that can inform, or at the very least, suggest a different avenue for considering pedagogical approaches that are founded on the worldview and lived reality of transborder communities.


Project Title: An exploratory analysis of a food safety intervention for ethnically diverse families using the IMB Model

Research Area: Food safety, foodborne illness, families

Project Description: This study aims to evaluate a culturally tailored food safety intervention to reduce foodborne illness in young children. Analyses will include exploring the direct and mediated treatment effects on food safety behavior.


Project Title: Assured Information Sharing in Cloud Computing

Research Area: Cloud computing, Security, Networking, Web Applications, Programming

Project Description: This project involves development of an assured information-sharing framework for cloud-based systems that leverages our ongoing work in the areas of policy-based usage management and semantic interoperability.  The development of this framework will involve research related to the creation of novel approaches to information sharing that treats security as a commodity that can be dynamically provisioned within the cloud, along with other cloud resources.  Note: US Citizenship is required to work on this project.


Project Title: 3D Reality Augmented Virtual Environments

Research Area: modeling, animation, programming, marketing, virtual worlds, video games

Project Description: We are creating a 3D reality augmented virtual environment (RAVE, a kind of virtual world) for educating the public about renewable and sustainable energy as part of the National Science Foundation's Sustainability Energy Pathways program and we are working closely with engineering (PI-Olga Lavrova, ECE). We are looking for a variety of students including: programmers, 3d modelers, animators, visual effects, marketing students, and students interested in data analysis & statistics. But we welcome any student who has a general interest in energy & sustainability -- we'll find a good research project for you!
Additional information can be found here.


Project Title: Impact of Creatine Timing on Resistance Training Adaptations

Research Area: exercise, resistance training, sport nutrition

Project Description: Determine the impact of timed administration of creatine monohydrate over 8 weeks of resistance training on changes in strength, endurance and body composition


Project Title: Bird Collection: Museum of Southwestern Biology

Research Area: specimens, specimen preparation, birds, natural history

Project Description: The research collection of bird specimens is constantly growing. We need students to assist with specimen preparation and curation. Preparation of skin and skeleton specimens from dead birds requires manual precision, attention to detail, and a keen sense of aesthetics. It is an outstanding opportunity for students interested in birds, anatomy, natural history, evolution, databases, and museums. Many curatorial workers transition to doing specimen-based research, assisting field expeditions, and even conducting undergraduate thesis projects at the museum. 


Project Title: Shared Leadership

Research Area: leadership, organization, knowledge management

Project Description: Theories and practice of shared leadership in higher education setting Organizational Development, leadership, Gender


Project Title: NM Geothermal systems

Research Area: Geothermal, water quality, energy, geology

Project Description: The geothermal energy team will develop a better understanding of factors that affect the viability and sustainability of NM’s underlying natural hydrothermal systems. New Mexico is endowed with relatively high background heat flow and permeable, fractured bedrock. These conditions have given rise to numerous low temperature geothermal systems. Developing geothermal energy as a viable and sustainable resource in NM, however, will require a better understanding of the underlying natural hydrothermal systems and of the practical limitations and human technologies involved in its application. Our research focuses on two areas of inquiry: How long-lived are fault controlled and topography-driven geothermal systems within New Mexico? Is the development of geothermal systems associated with discharge areas of regional, topography-driven flow systems more sustainable than the development of fault controlled systems driven by natural convection? What is the extent of degradation of groundwater and surface water quality from hydrothermal systems in NM? Hydrothermal energy exploration and utilization has the potential to become increasingly important to NM’s energy future. Developing a fundamental understanding of the magnitude and sustainability of geothermal resources has direct implications for NM economic development as communities develop these resources for aquaculture, tourism and other possible uses. The project involves field work, laboratory analysis, and data analysis including use of geographic information systems.


Project Title: Fire & Fungi in Alaska

Research Area: mycorrhizae, ecology, evolution, DNA, PCR, sequencing

Project Description: All trees in the boreal forest require symbioses with soil fungi (mycorrhizal symbiosis) to grow. Fires are a normal component of boreal ecosystems, but they are becoming more frequent and more severe due to climate change. We are carrying out studies to understand whether changing fire, and invasion of a non-native pine species, is disrupting this critical symbiosis. We use a variety of methods, including stable isotopes and DNA sequencing, to dissect the interactions between fungi and trees.


Project Title: Piñon, drought and symbiosis

Research Area: Piñon pine, Sevilleta LTER, mycorrhizae, fungi, symbiosis

Project Description: Piñon pines, like most wild plants, depend critically on symbioses with soil fungi (mycorrhizal symbiosis). We are initiating new projects under the auspices of the Sevilleta Long Term Ecological Research program (http://sev.lternet.edu/) to understand how piñon pines and their fungi respond to drought. In particular, does drought increase or decrease availability of fungi that promote tree growth? We use a combination of field experiments, field sampling and lab work involving microscopy, DNA and isotopes to analyze plant-fungus interactions. For more information see http://taylorlabunm.weebly.com/.


Project Title: Melanoma Epidemiology - the role of height in mortality

Research Area: melanoma, height, mortality

Project Description: We have two large datasets that have height, melanoma cases and controls, and survival information.  The student will do background research and, if wishes, learn data analysis using a statistical package.  The project will result in a publishable paper on the role of height in melanoma mortality


Project Title: A Video Game (or three) on Privacy

Research Area: privacy, art, illustration, design, graphics, computer science, game

Project Description: We are building at least one video game themed around privacy. If you have interest in video game design, art, illustration, graphic design work, or other interests that you believe are related, please contact us.


Project Title: Fire effects on Gila Trout

Research Area: conservation, field work, genetics, stream ecology

Project Description: We are examining how our native Gila Trout respond to fire and stream recovery using tag-recapture and genetic methods. We are collaborating with biologists from NM Department of Game and Fish, US Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service to estimate fish dispersal, growth, and genetic diversity. Field work includes stream surveys in very remote areas of the Gila Wilderness and laboratory work includes DNA isolation, PCR, nucleotide sequencing and other methods. Our research includes database management, data analysis, and work with museum archives and specimens. We aim to restore this beautiful fish to its native habitat in the Gila Wilderness and learn important details about its biology!


Project Title: Spiritual Curriculum in Higher Education

Research Area: spirituality self-identity, self authorship

Project Description: Dissertation on how spiritual curriculm effects student's self-identity.


Project Title: The Role of Erythropoietin in Human Development

Research Area: cell culture, human development, gene expression, PCR, erythropoietin

Project Description: Grow cell cultures and treat with growth factors to characterize prevention and repair of the effects of low oxygen.


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Project Title: Markov Chains Central

Research Area: mathematics, website development, probability theory, educational software, applet development

Project Description: Work on developing a laboratory-style applet for students who want to learn about and experiment with random walks and Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling.  If you like math/stats and programming, this could be right for you!


Project Title: Documentation of Amazonian Languages

Research Area: linguistics, indigenous languages, endangered languages, Amazon, Spanish

Project Description: The goal of this project is to document and describe two endangered languages of the Peruvian Amazon, Kokama and Secoya. Invaluable data that constitutes a rich encyclopedia of cultural knowledge in the Amazon has been collected during several periods of fieldwork. But there is still much work to be done to produce well-organized corpora for these languages, which are crucial for quality, replicable research. Help is needed to transcribe, translate and/or enter extant data. Students will be trained to use specific software associated with documentary linguistics, such as FLex (to enter text data), Transcriber (to transcribe audio-video recordings), and Excel (to build the metadata associated with the archiving materials). Working on this research project is an excellent opportunity to learn about the linguistic complexity in the Amazon region in particular, and the study of linguistics in general.


Project Title: Literacy and Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Expectations, Opportunities, & Outcomes

Research Area: literacy, qualitative study

Project Description: The purpose of this proposed exploratory study is to examine what is the current state of literacy instruction for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). The research questions guiding this study are: (a) What opportunities for literacy instruction are available to adults with I/DD?  (i) What are the goals of such programs, how are they structured, and how are they accessed by interested adults? (b) How do the individuals providing literacy instruction for adults with I/DD conceptualize or define literacy for this group?  (i) How is their definition reflected in the literacy instructional practices they choose to use?


Project Title: Music of Paul Dessau

Research Area: historical musicology, DDR, GDR, Cold War studies, East Germany, Jewish Studies

Project Description: The rise of East German artistic life from the devastation of the Second World War is an intriguing facet of contemporary European history. Of particular interest is the small group of Jewish artists who played a role in the musical life of the young nation in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Examining the collaboration of the Jewish composer Paul Dessau (1896-1979) and the singer Lin Jaldati (1912-1988) provides a unique perspective on post-Holocaust music and Jewish culture in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. In addition it will shed light on a body of neglected vocal repertoire. Dessau, one of the DDR’s musical figureheads, returned from his exile in the United States in 1949 in order to contribute to the cultural development of the new communist country. During the last three decades of his life he composed a wealth of vocal music, including opera, choral works, and over 150 lieder. Dessau’s 250 songs form the core of his oeuvre. Dessau’s biographer Fritz Hennenberg praised Dessau’s song repertoire, stating, “where others merely gave expression to their personal sentiments Dessau captured the essence of history in the making.” Dessau’s compositional voice is eclectic and incorporates disparate styles and influences including twelve-tone technique, Jewish folk music, agit-propaganda music, and aleatoric elements. Among the poets whose works Dessau set are Goethe, Heine, Dehmel, Erich Fried, Georg Maurer, and his frequent collaborator Bertolt Brecht. Lin Jaldati (born Rebekka Brilleslijper) was born in 1912 in Amsterdam where she was raised in a Dutch-speaking Jewish home. She met her future husband, the exiled German musicologist and pianist Eberhard Rebling (1911-2008) in Amsterdam in 1936. It was Rebling who encouraged Jaldati to focus her energy on the performance of the body of Yiddish song. Although most of her family was murdered during the Holocaust, Jaldati managed to survive. After the war she traveled throughout Europe performing her repertory of anti-fascist agit-prop songs and Yiddish folksongs, accompanied by her husband Rebling on piano. Like Dessau, Rebling was courted by the musical community of the GDR to help cultivate the musical culture of the emerging nation. Rebling and Jaldati, along with their two daughters Kathinka (b. 1941) and Jalda (1951), relocated to East Berlin in 1952. During her life in East Germany Jaldati functioned as an official icon of Jewish culture in the GDR and served as a musical ambassador, performing Yiddish folksongs around the world. She was the only official East German interpreter of Yiddish music, and she was frequently called on to represent the GDR at international conferences. My research will examine Dessau’s lieder premiered by or composed for the singer Lin Jaldati. Ten of Dessau’s songs composed in the 1960s and 1970s were premiered or dedicated to Jaldati. These works, which include such songs as “An meine Landsleute”, “Höre Israel,” and “Tereszin mit Reisegruppe” combine Dessau’s modernist musical language and extended piano techniques with a simplified, folk-inspired vocal melody suitable for Jaldati’s voice. The texts for these songs are poignant commentaries on military conflict, the Holocaust, and the conflict between Israel and its neighbors during and after the Six-Day war. I am interested in working with students in any field in the humanities (history, anthropology, historical musicology, etc.) as well as students who have German language proficiency.


Project Title: Water Database

Research Area: water use

Project Description: The objective of this project is to begin to develop a database of water use by sector by state utilizing publicly available data.  The main activities will be to compile, categorize, and document the data.


Project Title: Water Database

Research Area: water use

Project Description: The objective of this project is to begin to develop a database of water use by sector by state utilizing publicly available data.  The main activities will be to compile, categorize, and document the data.


Project Title: Undergraduate Assistant in the Pulsed Power, Beams, and Microwaves Laboratory

Research Area: Pulsed power, high power microwaves, vacuum systems, machining, high voltage, power supplies

Project Description: The Pulsed Power, Beams, and Microwaves Laboratory is a state-of-the-art facility devoted to applications of pulsed power, particularly to the generation of high power microwaves.


Project Title: Photosynthesis and water use efficiency

Research Area: plants, photosynthesis, respiration, carbon metabolism, water, carbon dioxide, food, energy, bioenergy

Project Description: I have several projects measuring photosynthesis and water use by plants. They focus on understanding how plants survive in natural environments, but most work is done in the lab and greenhouses. Applications include improving our understanding of carbon cycle models and improving productivity of crops for food and bioenergy.


Project Title: NM News Port

Research Area: journalism, communication, media, marketing, information, publics

Project Description: The New Mexico News Port is a start-up news collaboration based in the C&J department. The research project is being designed to assess the effectiveness and impact of the News Port. Student would help design and conduct the research over the course of the 2015/2016 academic year (or either semester). Project would pay an honorarium and would encourage authorship/publication of a report.


Project Title: indian cowboys: country music, generation and nostalgia on the navajo nation

Research Area: navajo, diné, music, country music, politics, language, indigenous languages, indigeneity, cultural intimacy, generational nostalgia

Project Description: My book examines the politics of music and language on the contemporary Navajo Nation. Based on 2 1/2 years of singing and playing with navajo country western bands, i use country music as a lens to examine contemporary Diné politics of music, language and belonging.


Project Title: Guilt and Shame in African Literature

Research Area: Africa literature law shame

Project Description: Investigation of the uses of guilt (legal and psychological) and shame in African societies for divergent purposes (colonial control, anticolonial revolt, challenging gender roles, corruption, etc.) to both maintain and challenge social conventions and practices. Legal, sociological, cinematic, and historical resources will be used, but the study is centered primarily on literary representations.


Project Title: ACTION PAC research study

Research Area: community, adolescents, teens, obesity, diabetes

Project Description: The ACTION PAC research study is examining whether a motivational-interviewing based nutrition and physical activity intervention, delivered by health care providers in school-based health centers, can help teens with weight management. Students will help us with data collection and entry and delivery of the ACTION PAC intervention. We work with 8 high schools in the Albuquerque and Las Cruces areas.


Project Title: Policy alternatives for controlling nitrate pollution from New Mexico’s dairies

Research Area: dairy, nitrate, water pollution, GIS, modeling, economic analysis, policy

Project Description: Consolidation in livestock production generates higher farm incomes due to economies of scale. However, it also brings manure disposal problems. New Mexico ranks number one in the nation in dairy farm size with an average of 2357 cows per farm. Dairy manure is a significant source of nitrates and over-applying it on adjacent cropland produces adverse environmental and health effects, including groundwater nitrate pollution. Approximately 90% of the total population in New Mexico depends on groundwater as drinking water and about 10% of the population depends on private wells for drinking water. Excessive concentration of nitrates in the state's groundwater is a potential threat to public health. The project proposes to develop an interdisciplinary model to simulate alternative policy scenarios and to identify the most effective and cost-effective policy options for controlling nitrate pollution from New Mexico’s dairy farms through farm-level and regional analyses. Given the ongoing consolidation in the dairy industry both within and beyond New Mexico’s borders, results generated by this research will inform local, state, and federal policymakers working on water quality management programs.


Project Title: ACTION PAC research study

Research Area: community, adolescents, teens, obesity, diabetes

Project Description: The ACTION PAC research study is examining whether a motivational-interviewing based nutrition and physical activity intervention, delivered by health care providers in school-based health centers, can help teens with weight management. Students will help us with data collection and entry and delivery of the ACTION PAC intervention. We work with 8 high schools in the Albuquerque and Las Cruces areas.


Project Title: The Dose-Response Impact of Fish Oil Supplementation on Muscle Fiber Breakdown, Soreness, Oxidative Stress, Inflammation, Autophagy, and Performance after Eccentric Exercise

Research Area: muscle damage, exercise performance, inflammation

Project Description: The purpose of this study is three-fold: 1) to determine if fish oil supplementation minimizes the expression of muscle fiber breakdown, oxidative stress, inflammation, and improves measures of soreness and performance following stressful resistance exercise; 2) if evidence of a dose-response exists (2.0 g/d vs. 4.0 g/d vs. 6.0 g/d), and 3) to determine if fish oil supplementation impacts the cellular mechanisms of heat shock proteins (HSPs) and autophagy following muscle damage.


Project Title: Photosynthesis and water use efficiency

Research Area: plants, photosynthesis, respiration, carbon metabolism, water, carbon dioxide, food, energy, bioenergy

Project Description: I have several projects measuring photosynthesis and water use by plants. They focus on understanding how plants survive in natural environments, but most work is done in the lab and greenhouses. Applications include improving our understanding of carbon cycle models and improving productivity of crops for food and bioenergy.


Project Title: ACTION PAC research study

Research Area: community, adolescents, teens, obesity, diabetes

Project Description: The ACTION PAC research study is examining whether a motivational-interviewing based nutrition and physical activity intervention, delivered by health care providers in school-based health centers, can help teens with weight management. Students will help us with data collection and entry and delivery of the ACTION PAC intervention. We work with 8 high schools in the Albuquerque and Las Cruces areas.


Project Title: Reducing the Risk of Sustainability for Business: A Group Identity Approach

Research Area: sustainability; business; group identity; organizational identity

Project Description: Business sustainability has great potential to increase business competitiveness, as well as a healthy environment, but it also creates considerable uncertainty and risks for organizations. It is complex, interdisciplinary and constantly changing. As a result, companies often have difficulty understanding sustainability and translating it into action.  In this study, I argue that many companies try to reduce the uncertainty sustainability causes by joining groups of organizations formed around this concept, such as the United Nations Global Compact program and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. These groups, however, have different levels of impact on improving the sustainable behavior of individual organizations. Understanding why this difference occurs will help us understand how companies learn about sustainability, reduce uncertainty in relation to this concept and use it to increase their competitive advantage. I will draw from theories on groups of organizations and group identity to address this problem. These theories provide a distinctive and innovative approach to studying the risks of sustainability.  This research will have two phases. Phase 1 will look into the identities of sustainability groups, their characteristics and strengths. Data for this phase will be collected through publicly available sources, interviews and a sustainability database. Phase 2 will identify the process of identification between individual organizations and sustainability groups through interviews and a survey with member companies.


Project Title: Improving services for children with severe communication disorders

Research Area: child language, AAC, augmentative communication,

Project Description: My research focuses on improving services for children with severe communication disorders. We have a number of research projects relating to this issue, including evaluating intervention programs as well as conducting various outreach projects for speech-language pathologists throughout New Mexico who wish to develop expertise in working with these children.


Project Title: Understanding the Psychological/Behavioral Effects of Advanced Weaponry

Research Area: computer wargaming, modeling, advanced weaponry

Project Description: In this multidisciplinary new effort we propose to use state-of-the-art computer wargaming technology, together with the growing body of research into the psychological and sociological response to the use of various classes weaponry to quantify the potential value of emerging advanced weaponry such as Directed Energy, non-lethal, and unmanned systems. This work requires that one include within a sophisticated analytic wargaming simulation both engineering models of the operation of these advanced weapon systems and models of psychological response to them.


Project Title: Legal Geography

Research Area: law, geography, environmental governance

Project Description: I'm looking for an undergraduate researcher to assist me in a number of duties related to my general research agenda, including academic research, copy editing manuscripts, filing and web design.  Please see http://www.unm.edu/~mhbenson for more information regarding my research.


Project Title: New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Survivorship

Research Area: Colorectal Cancer, Survivorship, Population Science

Project Description: The New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Survivor Study examines several important factors of survivorship including: adherence to post-resection surveillance, adherence to diet and physical activity guidelines, quality of life metrics, sociodemographic, clinical, healthcare, and other quality care factors. Colorectal cancer survivors are invited to participate in a self-administered mailed survey or telephone survey. The student working on this project can gain valuable research and data management skills. Opportunities include: participant recruitment, data survey collection, data entry and analysis, and development of research materials.


Project Title: New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Survivorship

Research Area: Colorectal Cancer, Survivorship, Population Science

Project Description: The New Mexico Colorectal Cancer Survivor Study examines several important factors of survivorship including: adherence to post-resection surveillance, adherence to diet and physical activity guidelines, quality of life metrics, sociodemographic, clinical, healthcare, and other quality care factors. Colorectal cancer survivors are invited to participate in a self-administered mailed survey or telephone survey. The student working on this project can gain valuable research and data management skills. Opportunities include: participant recruitment, data survey collection, data entry and analysis, and development of research materials.


Project Title: Acute Resistance Exercise and Dose-Response Impact of Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Muscle Fiber Breakdown, Oxidative Stress and Autophagy

Research Area: resistance exercise, branched chain amino acids, oxidative stress, autophagy

Project Description: The specific aims of this study are to examine the impact of acute resistance exercise on activation of autophagy and to determine the dose-response impact of branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation on markers of muscle damage, oxidative stress and autophagy.  Aim 1 – To determine the extent eccentrically-dominated resistance exercise activates cellular mechanisms associated with autophagy. Aim 2 – To determine if supplementation with branched-chain amino acids favorably impacts the ability of the body to respond to muscle damaging exercise stress. Aim 3 – To determine if a dose-response is evident regarding branched-chain amino acid supplementation and their ability to mitigate detrimental changes in strength, perception of muscle soreness and muscle fiber breakdown after resistance exercise. Recent research has shown a positive impact of BCAA supplementation parameters of recovery from stressful exercise.   These studies and others using BCAA supplementation point to the possibility that increasing the availability of BCAAs may favorably impact changes in force production, muscle soreness and positively influence markers of muscle damage (e.g., creatine kinase).  While this work has yielded important outcomes, several important questions remain, specifically the need to determine the necessary dosage to yield positive outcomes.