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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.74
Liaison joni newcomer
Submission Date Jan. 26, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

New Mexico State University
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 joni newcomer
Sustainability Manager
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

We have a network of mentors available to the students through the Sustainability Council and University Research Council.

The supplementary major in Sustainable Development emphasizes sustainability research by supporting students interested in an interdisciplinary supplementary major through which students developing a deeper understanding of the relations between humans and the natural environment. The program offers students the opportunity to cross disciplines and construct a coherent interdisciplinary sustainability program that focuses on human interactions with the natural environment, society's role in depleting and transforming natural resources, critical issues in sustainable development, and new strategies for conserving and sustaining natural resources and sustainable agricultural production.

Incentives include scholarships and travel abroad opportunities.


The department of Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) provides undergraduate and graduate opportunities for students to conduct research promoting sustainability in a changing climate environment. http://aces.nmsu.edu/academics/pes/

This program is the Student Research and Education Gardens (SREG), a 2-acre USDA certified organic farm, located on the main NMSU campus. These gardens employ undergraduate agriculture students. These students are involved in ongoing organic farming research projects conducted by Drs. Richard Pratt and Ivette Guzman, researchers in the Plant and Environmental Sciences department. SREG is the location for graduate student research projects. http://aces.nmsu.edu/academics/pes/student-gardens.html

PES offers masters and doctoral degrees in agronomy, horticulture, environmental sciences, soil science, genetics, and water science management. The majority of the research projects address issues in agriculture in an attempt to make agriculture more sustainable in a climate changing environment.

In addition, Dr. Guzman collaborates with the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde in Alcalde, NM. She is advising a Masters student who is working on a sustainable year-round high tunnel farming project. The center in Alcalde is devoted to research in sustainable farming. http://alcaldesc.nmsu.edu/

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

NMSU has several different programs in our seven colleges. For example, the Office of the Vice President for Research has a “mini-grant” program. The Interdisciplinary IMPACT Mini-Grants Program is designed to 1) Spark collaboration between early career and senior faculty; departments and colleges; by providing funding and resources to develop innovative, results-driven research/scholarship programs and projects; and 2) Support interdisciplinary research by generating opportunities consistent with NMSUs mission and vision of research and scholarship that improves the quality of life for New Mexico residents and NMSU’s partnerships at the local, state, national and international level; and 3) Enhance an interdisciplinary NMSU research community by establishing new interdisciplinary research and scholarship that is developed through the collaborations between colleges, departments, early and senior career faculty leading to the development of research centers and institutes. The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society through teaching and training, the participation of groups under-represented in the sciences, and/or through “results that will improve the health and well-being of the planet and its many inhabitants.” The grants are between $25,000 and $40,000.

Our Vice President for Research office has deep focus on the environment and the mini-grants above can be used for the following: Faculty in three colleges work on challenges related to environment and ecology. Key environmental and ecological research projects include the economic and environmental impacts of climate change on New Mexico; operation of the New Mexico Climate Center; The Southwest Regional Gap Analysis Project, tasked with mapping and assessing the biodiversity of a five-state region in the southwest; a bi-national assessment with Mexico on southwest regional air quality; studies of long-term ecological research sites in the Jornada Experimental Range; processes and patterns in North American monsoons; and research integrating climate science to facilitate decision making and risk mitigation. http://www.research.nmsu.edu/environment

Our College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES) has several programs that provide grant money for environmental agriculture research. An earlier agriculture grant between NMSU, EPA, and USGS expanded in 2013 to allow a researcher at NMSU to work with other ag departments to map biodiversity metrics representing ecosystem services at regional and national landscape scales. This program is continuing to this day at NMSU working with our GIS department. https://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/aces14/posters/Boykin,%20Ken.pdf

Our NMSU Research deans send out RFP’s to specific groups of faculty to encourage collaboration. One example is when the humanities research group explored ways to collaborate for greater outreach to campus and the community regarding equality issues, access for different cultural groups, webinars and seminars for sustainability education to the community.

A team established by the research dean of A&S drew disciplines in the humanities together to promote collaboration for community outreach that emphasized sustainable projects including green space, urban heat island identification and management, public transportation networks, effective communication of sustainable practices and systems including xeriscaping, native plants, bicycling and hiking trails in the community, and community participation in designing, development and planning efforts.

Arts and Sciences department has a mini-grant program to advance some aspect of their scholarship. If it’s related to sustainability it is well-supported by the selection team. An example is the mini-travel grant that was given to the Geography department head in 2016 to take students to Bandelier National Park to assist with the “Bioblitz” – a collaboration of the National Park Service (NPS) and National Geographic that conducts an inventory of the biological diversity assessment and involves and inspires grade schoolers to get involved with the NPS system. https://www.nps.gov/band/planyourvisit/bioblitz.htm

The number of departments involved in the Water Science and Management discipline program is significant. NMSU Water Science and Management (WSM) department encourages sustainable research by supporting collaboration of teams of researchers focused on sustainable practices for water. The College of ACES and Arts & Sciences support this program with collaboration between Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business, Animal and Range Science, Civil Engineering, Geography, Plant and Environmental Sciences.

New Mexico faces serious challenges concerning water supply, development, quality, management, and administration of water resources. Thus responses to the challenges will have major impacts on the regional economy, environmental quality, and the quality of life for the residents of New Mexico. A major need exists to train the next generation of water resource researchers, educators, and managers to address these challenges, both inside and outside New Mexico. To help meet these needs, an Interdisciplinary Degree Program in Water Science & Management (WSM) has been developed at NMSU by a team of water experts and approved by the Governor of New Mexico. http://wsm.research.nmsu.edu/

Water Resource Research Institute offered a grant in 2014-15 under their faculty water research awards program. The research dealt with soil salinity and invasive plants, addressing sustainability of our soil water supplies. https://nmwrri.nmsu.edu/tr-368/ The College of ACES grant awards encouraging sustainability research is found here: http://aces.nmsu.edu/academics/pes/department-awards.html

All of the above efforts, and many more, are clearly extremely encouraging to the students in these programs.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

NMSU’s P&T policy recognizes externally funded research. New Mexico State University research drives innovation, and the NNMSU Office of Research Integrity and Ethics is committed to the ideals embodied in the land grant mission of access, engagement, leadership, and service.

Interdisciplinary Research Grants
-- Purpose: To encourage interdisciplinary research activities in projects that have a high potential of receiving external competitive funding.
-- Eligibility: All faculty and research staff are eligible to apply; requires collaboration between faculty/staff from two or more disciplines. Investigators are limited to one proposal per cycle as principal investigators, but may be included in an unlimited number of submissions as co-principal investigators.
-- Award Details: Proposed budgets may be between $25,000 and $40,000. Funding will be provided for one year.
-- Proposals will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
• Technical merit of the proposed research
• Potential impact of the proposed research on the university's research programs and national visibility
• Potential for future funding and sustainability of research agenda
• Student involvement
• Qualifications of the investigators
• If applicable, performance on previous IRG funding.
-- Grantee Responsibilities: Recipients of funding must submit technical and financial reports to the OVPR each six months. The final report should include an abstract of the completed work suitable for inclusion in a brochure. Recipients are also expected to make a presentation after six months and at the end of the grant period.

NMSU ACES (Agriculture Consumer and Environmental Sciences) college has matching funds for research from ACES as well as donor scholarships. Department funds pay for the upkeep of our research farms (Leyendecker and Fabian Garcia).

Positive outcomes in the last three years are the following: Water Science and Management program was created; our students are commonly now entering into interdisciplinary degrees (green in the curriculum encourages this); we now have a minor in sustainability in agriculture, business, and anthropology; our 2-acre organic farms provides food and accepts compostable food with our Hotel Retail Tourism Management (HRTM) department.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

NMSU library system has built collections in water and desert topics in particular since a great number of research and education is done in the areas relating to our Chihuahuan desert. They have particular sections all throughout the library as opposed to collections in one central place that relates to sustainability. They subscribe to many databases that are in reference to climate change, wildlife and ecology studies, water, and environmental topics.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.