The New Mexico Network for Women in Science in Engineering (NMNWSE) recently honored Laura Crossey, professor and chair of the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico, with the Ninth Annual IMPACT! Award. The award is given to a New Mexico woman for her extraordinary efforts in encouraging and helping women enter and succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as promoting networking and communication among women in these careers.

Crossey, whose research approach combines field examination of modern environments (biogeochemistry of water and sediments) with laboratory analysis as well as core and outcrop evaluations applied to evaluate paleohydrology, spring sustainability and reservoir/aquifer characteristics, was recognized for her extraordinary 30-year effort directly mentoring over 100 undergraduate and graduate student mentees in her own discipline, as well as playing a leading role in local and statewide K-12 through graduate level STEM support programs. Crossey's academic activities include geoscience outreach, K-12 outreach, and science education research as well as programs to increase the participation of under-represented groups in the science disciplines.

Crossey has also served on the NM Governor’s committee to establish Science Standards, and helping UNM develop policies and programs that support inclusive participation and success in STEM across the campus improving the college experience for thousands of students. She has also volunteered her time as a science fair judge, coach, PTA president and soccer referee.

With a special focus on Hispanic and Native American students, Crossey brings them into research by finding a project for them near where they grew up, “an incredibly smart and insightful approach” which allows the student (and their community) “to understand completely that science is right where they grew up, that they can study the dirt they played in, the rocks they found, and the mountains they climbed,” as noted by Maggie Werner-Washburne, past president of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).

Brandi Cron Kamermans, one of the students Crossey mentored, said "In the last eight years I have become a scientist, and it would not have been possible without Dr. Crossey’s support,” adding that she is pursuing a Ph.D. because “Dr. Crossey’s mentoring inspired me and effectively prepared me for doctoral study. I saw her do this for many students – each one taking a unique path in their education. Dr. Crossey helped me see that science and my Navajo tradition are not necessarily so separate, and that is one of many important wisdoms Dr. Crossey offers her students.”

NMNWSE began in 1975 with a core group of faculty and staff from UNM wanting to reach out to women in science as a group. Since then, the Network has worked to encourage and help women enter and succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers and promote networking and communication among members by providing regularly scheduled meetings, talks and other local activities.

In 1974, the NM Commission on the Status of Women was created by state statute to increase the knowledge of the rights, responsibilities and interests of women and girls in New Mexico and to preserve women’s history and contributions to our state. The Commission was terminated in 2011.

For more information, visit NMNWSE.