The College of Arts & Sciences at UNM announces the recent appointment of five new associate deans. These new appointments, including three newly established positions, signify a transformation in the college's administrative structure.

The structural change focuses on enhancing support for the university’s largest unit and its 23 departments, 10 academic programs, 14 research programs, and one school. It enlists new leaders to optimize resources and foster new opportunities across the college.

"This group of associate deans will help all of our departments and programs achieve their goals while also helping us find new opportunities to collaborate across units," said Jennifer Malat, Ph.D., dean of the UNM College of Arts & Sciences.

Through the new structure, associate deans will be able to provide more direct support for chairs and directors, develop new and sustainable avenues for interdisciplinary collaboration, coordinate and improve resource distribution and ensure the college can become more responsive and adaptive to achieve its goals.

"I am grateful to Drs. Brearley, Fawcett, Hunley, Nepstad and Nogar, who have stepped up to lead. They have decades of UNM experience that will be valuable in guiding our college forward. I am committed to building a more inclusive College and am confident that we are continuing our progress toward that goal," said Malat.

The new associate deans will begin in their roles on July 1.

Adrian Brearley

Adrian Brearley, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Research

Adrian Brearley, Ph.D., joined UNM in 1986. He served as department chair in Earth & Planetary Sciences and is currently the director of the Nanomaterials Characterization Facility in PAÍS. Brearley earned his doctorate at the University of Manchester in England in 1984. An active researcher throughout his time at UNM, he is a mineralogist and cosmochemist with research interests focused on understanding geological processes on the Earth and the earliest history of the solar system through the study of meteorite samples from asteroids and Mars. More recently, he has been engaged as a member of the JAXA Hayabusa2 preliminary sample analysis team that examined samples returned from the carbonaceous asteroid, Ryuku.

Additionally, he has served as a member of the NIEHS-funded UNM METALS Superfund Center, a collaboration with colleagues in the School of Engineering and the College of Pharmacy. This project addresses the environmental impacts of abandoned uranium mines on indigenous communities in New Mexico and Arizona, notably on the Navajo Nation and the Pueblo of Laguna.

“I'm excited about the opportunity to serve the community that has given me many opportunities and much support during my 38-year career at UNM,” said Brearley. “I look forward to continuing to build on the achievements of our previous associate deans of research, Tom Turner and Chris Lippitt, to enhance research opportunities for faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduates across the College of Arts & Sciences.”

Peter Fawcett

Peter  Fawcett, Ph.D
Associate Dean for Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Peter Fawcett, Ph.D. earned an undergraduate degree in geology at McMaster University before attending graduate school at Penn State University. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Toronto, he joined the UNM faculty in 1997. He has served as chair of the department of Earth & Planetary Sciences for the last eight years.

Classically trained as a geologist, but with a strong emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach in teaching and research, Fawcett has worked with a diverse group of earth scientists, biologists, chemists, physicists to study past climate change and its impact on the environment. He has served as principal investigator on three large, continental scientific drilling projects recovering climatic and environmental records from lake sediments from the Valles Caldera in New Mexico, Stoneman Lake, in Arizona, and a large international research group drilling the ancient lake sediments than now underlie Mexico City (Lake Chalco).

“I am really looking forward to working with our outstanding departments and developing new ideas for curriculum and cross-disciplinary research in the College,” Fawcett said. “In my new role, I look forward to working with departments as they develop their new strategic plans in the coming year.”

Keith Hunley

Keith Hunley, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Departments

Keith Hunley, Ph.D., joined the UNM Anthropology Department in 2004. Prior to joining UNM, he earned a Ph.D. in anthropology and held a postdoctoral fellowship in human genetics at the University of Michigan. His research in evolutionary anthropology examines the persistence of genetic and linguistic structure within our species, despite the fluid nature of population boundaries and the ephemeral nature of individual groups.

His publications have provided insights into the initial dispersal of humans from Africa, the non-existence of biological races, the co-evolution of genes and languages, and the psychosocial and cultural determinants of interest in and uptake of genetic testing for skin cancer. He has served as chair of the Anthropology Department for the last five years.

“In my role as associate dean for the social sciences and interdisciplinary departments, I hope to facilitate new collaborations in the areas of community-engaged research and diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Hunley.

Sharon Nepstad

Sharon Erickson Nepstad, Ph.D.
Associate Dean for Student Success

Sharon Erickson Nepstad, Ph.D. has been a member of the UNM Department of Sociology and Criminology since 2009. Prior to joining the UNM faculty, she earned a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Colorado-Boulder and held a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion. Nepstad has served in various capacities within UNM’s College of Arts & Sciences–from 2009-2012 as the Director of Religious Studies, from 2012-2014 and 2016-2021 as the chair of Sociology and Criminology. She has been associate dean for student success since 2022 and is continuing in the role.

Nepstad previously held faculty positions at Regis University, Duquesne University, and the University of Southern Maine and was a visiting fellow at Notre Dame University’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Her expertise is in the areas of social movements and contentious politics, peace and conflict studies, and the sociology of religion. Her research has focused on the role of religion in mobilizing movements that aim to obstruct war, protect human rights, and promote democratization. Nepstad has also written extensively about nonviolent resistance in revolutionary struggles against authoritarianism. In 2021, she received the Distinguished Career Award from the American Sociological Association’s section on Peace, War, and Social Conflict.

“I look forward to this new role and working with Arts & Sciences departments to promote strong undergraduate and graduate initiatives that will enhance student success from admission through degree completion,” said Nepstad.


Anna M. Nogar, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Humanities

Anna M. Nogar, Ph.D., joined as a UNM faculty member in 2007 after completing her Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature at the University of Texas-Austin. An undergraduate alumna of UNM ('00) with degrees in biochemistry, Spanish and Honors, she currently holds the position of professor of Hispanic Southwest Studies in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and is affiliated with the Southwest Hispanic Research Institute, the Latin American and Iberian Institute, and Chicana/o Studies. Nogar has served extensively on college and university committees. She has expertise in Mexican American cultural and literary studies, nuevomexicano writing and culture, and community oral history.

Nogar’s recent scholarly focus includes exploring the literary legacy of early 20th-century bilingual New Mexican author Felipe M. Chacón and contributing to literary recovery efforts through the Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Project. Her publications have garnered prestigious awards, including the 2020 International Latino Book Award in the History and Religious Book categories and a U.S. Digital Humanities Fellowship. She actively engages in community-centered projects, including co-directing an oral history initiative, and contributes to various academic and advisory roles, reflecting her commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and societal impact.

“I am passionate about the humanities and look forward to advocating for them at UNM. New Mexico is my home and I look forward to connecting UNM with our state's communities,” Nogar said.