The University of New Mexico’s new Physics and Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science building (PAÍS) was designed to improve the way student and faculty conduct research, and serve as a hub for cross-discipline collaboration on campus.

The project began as a simple idea to revolutionize the way research is conducted at UNM: build a facility to house classrooms, offices and laboratory space for scientists from across campus, not just from a single department. PAÍS will not only change the face of the UNM campus it will also provide cutting-edge facilities across the University to make the type of impact in the way students and faculty work to solve problems. That idea continues to move closer to fruition with each passing day.

“We’re very excited to be tracking the progress on the construction of Phase I of PAÍS, and we look forward to leveraging this fantastic new facility to keep UNM on the forefront of scientific research,” said Richard Rand, chair, Physics & Astronomy.

Ground was broken on the construction site back in March 2018. The building, which is nearly 140,000 square-feet, was designed to include a high-performance section that meets very high standards for vibration and electromagnetic interference (EMI) criteria due to the sensitive nature of the experimentation and research that will take place in the labs. Classroom space, meetings rooms, offices and, of course, research labs are all taking shape. With construction a little over halfway complete, PAÍS is on schedule to be completed later this summer.

Current aspects of construction include roofing, exterior sheathing, exterior insulation finish system (EIFS), mechanical, electrical, plumbing, building controls and fire protection rough-ins. Steel erection is also essentially complete and exterior framing is continuing and some window installation is also underway. In addition, floor finishing, painting, insulation and more are underway.

Not only is the construction moving along on schedule, but financial support for PAÍS is also underway. Funded by the State of New Mexico and UNM, PAÍS is the largest investment in science in New Mexico state history. Although funding for this cutting edge facility has been secured, there is an urgent need for additional money for resources including purchasing new equipment and building out labs for the various research entities, and for state-of-the-art teaching labs and classrooms.

The physical sciences form the basis of virtually all scientific and engineering undertakings. It is imperative that PAÍS has the resources necessary to strengthen the UNM College of Arts & Sciences as a destination for our region’s students, scholars and scientists. UNM’s Physics & Astronomy programs and the College’s Interdisciplinary Science Centers hold the keys to knowledge and are important educational resources for businesses, non-profit organizations, tribal communities, the state’s governmental labs, and other entities across the region and nation.

Community assistance is vital to “support the sciences” for UNM’s students, faculty and to advance scientific research in New Mexico. Several options are available as part of the Physics & Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) Support Fund for interested donors. They include naming opportunities in classrooms, lab areas, suites, conference rooms and common areas as well as a donor recognition area (for individuals and couples) within the building.

Additionally, the PAĺS Undergraduate Research Fund SURPASS provides financial assistance for scholarly and research endeavors to undergraduate students from the Department of Physics & Astronomy and undergraduates working with Physics & Astronomy faculty in PAÍS. The funds can be used for scholarships, to support active participation at scientific conferences, and for research materials.

“The PAÍS fund gives us a valuable opportunity to enhance the research we will carry out in this unique, state-of-the-art facility, while the SURPASS fund will enable undergraduates to pursue physics and astronomy research opportunities which provide crucial preparation for careers in STEM,” said Wolfgang Rudolph, professor and former chair of the Physics & Astronomy department.

Donors interested in helping support PAÍS should contact Sr. Development Director Yolanda Dominguez at 505.277.3194 and email, yolanda.dominguez@unmfund.org or Director of Development Margaret Ortega at 505.277.0817 and email, margaret.ortega@unmfund.org.