The interim legislative Science, Technology and Telecommunications Committee convened this morning in the Rotunda of UNM’s Science & Tech Park on South Campus for two days of mostly university presentations sandwiching a tour of Sandia National Labs.
Provost Chaouki Abdallah kicked off the morning with an Endowed Chair 101 tutorial at the request of committee chair Rep. Carl Trujillo (D-Santa Fe), who is interested in replicating the so-called “Oakridge model” that has significantly raised the research profile of the University of Tennessee.  This model is a national lab/state/university partnership that Trujillo believes would work for UNM and Sandia, which already share two chairs and are pursuing a third.
Rep. Jason Harper (R- Rio Rancho), who got his Ph.D. at UNM, studying with Prof. Jeff Brinker and working at Sandia, spoke highly of the opportunities he was afforded and sees this as a vehicle to grow prestige for the university, train employees for the labs, and secure more outside funding.  The committee will talk more about endorsing endowed chair legislation.
This discussion will also serve as a springboard for a presentation by UNM on Centers for Research Excellence – CORE, which because of time constraints has been moved to Friday, Sept. 6 at 9 a.m.
Committee members heard from Dean Catalin Roman about successes and challenges at the UNM School of Engineering.  They also learned about the tech transfer work being done by STC.UNM as well as the progress being made on telehealth initiatives before being transported to Sandia.