University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway has appointed Ellen Fisher as Vice President of Research effective Feb. 22, 2021. Fisher is currently the Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives in the Office of the Vice President for Research at Colorado State University.

“As a top-tier public research institution, our research enterprise is core to our mission and touches nearly every area of the university, all in service to the public good,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “I am excited to work with Professor Fisher to advance outstanding innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship at UNM, as well as to strengthen institutional collaboration and partnerships.”

“Dr. Ellen Fisher really stood out as both an incredibly accomplished researcher and as an individual dedicated to helping her colleagues grow their research and scholarly impact,” said Holloway. “She has been a strong supporter of multi-disciplinary team-based research, and championed programs that would catalyze more competitive grant applications from CSU faculty. Her teaching ranges from chemistry, to women’s studies, to materials science & engineering.”

“I’m very excited to be working with Dr. Fisher and all of UNM’s faculty to support and grow our research enterprise, which is so central to the mission of UNM and to our ability both to engage young learners in an environment of creativity and discovery, and to our positive impact on the communities of New Mexico.”

Fisher looks forward to her new role at UNM including the advancement of the research opportunities that UNM provides as one of only a dozen Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the U.S. that are also classified by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education as a R1: Doctoral Universities with very high research activity.

“This position offers a unique opportunity to work with researchers who are interested in discovery, innovation, and the creation of new knowledge from a multicultural lens that provides a strong platform for addressing broad, societal challenges important for ensuring a strong future for New Mexico, but also for the entire world,” said Fisher. “In addition, UNM has numerous research partners in the many federal laboratories located in New Mexico, the outstanding Health Sciences campus, and the cutting-edge industries that call Albuquerque home. UNM is thus poised to expand and enhance the impact of the outstanding research and scholarship that this flagship institution creates on a daily basis.” 

"Health Sciences leadership is thrilled that Dr. Fisher will be joining UNM, and we are grateful for her commitment to building research collaboratives across all of UNM," said Douglas Ziedonis, MD, MPH, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System. "Dr. Fisher has demonstrated impressive leadership skills in developing the research enterprise at Colorado State and a commitment to career development and mentorship.”

Fisher is excited to learn more about the research community and to work collaboratively to advance and grow the research enterprise across UNM’s main and north campuses. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know the UNM research community and understanding what the needs of our researchers are at all levels,” Fisher said. “I will be working closely with the Provost and President to develop a plan for strategic investments into the research enterprise to help grow our activities across the entire institution. I also hope to build on the existing strengths within the OVPR’s office to create a truly efficient, customer-service operation that seeks to advance the research mission of the University.”

Fisher fills the position held on an interim basis by Mary Jo Daniel following former vice president, Gabriel López, who stepped down to return to a faculty role at UNM’s School of Engineering.

In addition to her role as Assistant Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, she is also a professor of Analytical, Physical, and Materials Chemistry and was the founding director of a cross-disciplinary initiative, the School of Advanced Materials Discovery (SAMD). She also has held numerous administrative and faculty positions during her 27-year career at CSU including assistant and associate professor of Chemistry, department chair, senior faculty advisor to the vice president for Research and University Research Integrity Officer.

Fisher has worked across the CSU campus to provide leadership in several key areas including an effort to enhance faculty, graduate student, research & curricular improvements, strategic planning, budgets, facilities and space, advancement and competitive facility funding. She has also secured $6.8 million in research funding with more than 30 grants and over 160 refereed publications during her career.

She believes diversity, access and inclusion all play an important role in the development of innovation and problem-solving. “In my mind, one of the most important aspects of cultivating diversity, especially within the realm of research, is developing diversity of thought,” said Fisher. “Many studies have shown a clear connection between diversity and innovation. When you have a diverse team working on a problem, you are more likely to come up with new and creative ways of solving the problem. As VPR, I will focus on ways to increase diversity through mechanisms that help increase access and inclusion in our research enterprise, including having transparent practices and policies within the VPR’s office.”

Fisher is no stranger to Albuquerque having conducted her postdoctoral research at Sandia National Labs in Albuquerque before joining the faculty at CSU in 1993. Fisher has published more than 160 original peer-reviewed articles that span diverse topics such as plasma science, laser spectroscopy, materials chemistry, chemistry education and the responsible conduct of research. Fisher has graduated 21 Ph.D. and eight M.S. students, while two additional students are currently pursuing the Ph.D. under her guidance. She has mentored ~50 undergraduate research students, many of whom have gone on to a range of graduate and professional programs. Fisher and members of her research group (graduate and undergraduate students and postdocs) have contributed over 150 presentations at various topical international, national, and regional conferences and symposia.

Fisher is a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Vacuum Society (AVS). Her efforts in research and education have garnered notable recognition including the NSF CAREER award, was an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator, received the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award and most recently the Plasma Prize from the American Vacuum Society.

She has also received numerous individual awards from CSU, including the Jack E. Cermak Outstanding Graduate Advisor Award, the Natural Sciences Award for Mentoring Undergraduate Research, and the Hazaleus Award for Empowering Women. For her outstanding efforts and excellence in research, teaching and service, the College of Natural Sciences at CSU named her a Professor Laureate in 2009 and in 2010 she was honored with the University’s highest award for research, the Scholarship Impact Award. She has also been recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah.

Fisher received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Texas Lutheran University (formerly College) in 1986 (summa cum laude) and a Ph.D. in physical-analytical chemistry from the University of Utah in 1991.