For the last three years researchers at The University of New Mexico have set out to collaborate and address problems that impact individuals on a global, national and regional scale through the Grand Challenges program ­­­­– now that program is expanding with the addition of 10 more concept teams.

In 2019, UNM President Garnett S. Stokes announced the creation of three institutional Grand Challenges that brought researchers and scholars together from several multi-disciplinary areas. Those teams included:

  1. Substance Use Disorders
  2. Successful Aging
  3. Sustainable Water Resources

“The launch of our Grand Challenges initiative was a transformative moment for The University of New Mexico,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes. “Three years later, as we move forward with UNM 2040 and our goal to Advance New Mexico, we are thrilled with the opportunity to engage even more Lobo researchers from across our University, and across disciplines. By expanding and reimagining our Grand Challenges for the coming decades, we are encouraging and celebrating innovation at UNM, while creating exciting new possibilities for the citizens of New Mexico.”

The 10 new Level 1 Concept Teams represent all UNM campuses including the Health Sciences Center and UNM Branch Campuses. The research teams comprise of UNM faculty, staff, post-docs and graduate students.

Meet the Level 1 Teams-1
  1. STEM Education
    Create STEM learning spaces (K-12 through undergraduate and graduate/professional education) based on inclusion and equity.
  2. Sustainable Space Research
    Enable University of New Mexico and New Mexican participation in space exploration.
  3. Building Data Science Pathways for a Data Literate New Mexico
    Provide the people of New Mexico the education, tools, data, analyses, and visualizations they need to transform their lives for the emerging data economy.
  4. Child Health
    Use science to improve knowledge about preventing child abuse and neglect in New Mexico.
  5. Just Transition
    Create economic opportunities for vulnerable and historically disadvantaged communities through the transition to clean energy and climate resilience.
  6. Housing Justice
    Seek to design community-driven research projects and co-create and advance effective housing solutions.
  7. Basic Needs
    Improve the food and housing security of New Mexico’s college and university students through research and evidence-based interactions.
  8. Indigenous Child Development
    Identify Dine child developmental milestones to shape language revitalization and address goals set out by local and global Indigenous communities.
  9. Mental Health
    Address mental health distress and suicide prevention-intervention strategies, as well as crisis care across all UNM Campuses.
  10. Culturally Responsive Literacy
    Engage in research to encourage culturally responsive teaching as a means to mitigate illiteracy in our diverse communities.

The reimagined Grand Challenge program will provide each team with funds for team development and the solidification of their ideas. The new teams will work, over the coming months, with members of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), HSC Office for Research, and other campus and university offices to further develop their research plans. Next year, the Level 1 teams will be eligible to compete for Level 2 status which will provide additional funds to seed their projects and build capacity for larger, team-based activities.

“We are thrilled to embark on this effort to build on and expand the success of UNM’s Grand Challenges Program,” said Ellen Fisher, UNM vice president for research. “Engaging more faculty, staff, and students as well as our community members will not only increase UNM’s capacity to do cutting-edge research and scholarship, it will also truly empower a better future for all of New Mexico and the world.”

“The Grand Challenges Program offers an excellent opportunity for Health Sciences faculty members to collaborate with their colleagues across the UNM campuses,” said Dr. Douglas Ziedonis, executive vice president for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System. “This is a prime example of the ways in which One UNM benefits the health and well-being of all New Mexicans.”

The teams, selected through a competitive application process, represent the breadth of research and innovation at the University, while supporting UNM’s commitment to address topics that are of the utmost importance to all New Mexicans.

UNM is hosting a Grand Challenges kick-off event to introduce the 10 Level 1 teams, Thursday, Sept. 1 from 12 – 2 p.m., in the SUB. RSVP here.