The 63rd annual Central New Mexico STEM Research Challenge will be a week of in-person and virtual events from March 22-24 & 26. Nearly 260 4th through 12th-grade students will exhibit their research projects during in-person judging for the chance to move forward to the New Mexico State Science & Engineering Fair and/or directly to the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.  

Students will also compete for monetary and other awards provided by local businesses and private donors.  Junior Division (middle school) judging will be in person at EXPO NM on Thursday, March 23.  Senior Division (high school) and Elementary Division (4th-5th grades) judging will be on Friday, March 24.  A variety of virtual resources, activities, events, and information are available to both participants and the public in the 2023 Research Challenge Virtual Lobby.

“This event provides a great opportunity to showcase The University of New Mexico, recruit from a pool of excellent future student candidates and promote science, technology, engineering, math and health sciences (STEM-H) education in New Mexico,” said Karen Kinsman, director of UNM’s STEM-H Center.

The 2023 Central NM STEM Research Challenge Virtual Lobby will be available from March 20 through May 30 and is open to the public.  From the lobby, visitors will be able to:

  • View “on-demand” videos including STEM Careers in Food Science panel
  • Access the STEM-H Center’s range of videos on its YouTube channel
  • Browse the Student Researchers’ Projects Showcase
  • Check out all the organizations, activities, and resources in the STEM Hall
  • View the Grand Awards Event on March 26 (Our Co-MC will be Byron Morton – Meteorologist from KOAT-7) & access downloadable PDF files of award winners’ lists the day AFTER the Grand Awards Event
  • Learn more about our major sponsors’ organizations
  • Engage with social media platforms using #STEMrc23

The Central New Mexico STEM Research Challenge is one of three signature regional STEM competitions managed by the STEM-H Center team. Students qualify to compete by entering a research or engineering project in a local or school-level science fairs and being selected to move on to the regional event. They also must comply with all Regeneron ISEF Rules for Pre-College Research. For students whose projects involve humans, vertebrate animals or potential biosafety hazards, this means starting their projects months in advance in order to gather the necessary approvals to proceed with their projects.

The UNM Office of the Vice President for Research and UNM Health Sciences are the institutional partners for all events and competitions hosted by the UNM STEM-H Center. Other major community partners for this year’s Research Challenge include the UNM HSC Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, UNM Alumni Association, Sandia National Laboratories, PNM Resources, the Albuquerque Journal, The Aerospace Company, UNM School of Engineering, Intel Corporation, Nusenda Credit Union Foundation, and Boeing. A number of other individuals and organizations donated prizes for Special Awards and/or the 2023 Community Partners Showcase Passport door prizes.

“Our tiny team continues to rely on sponsors and volunteers donating their time and resources to help to make Research Challenge an event that often literally changes the lives of students who participate,” Kinsman said. 

For more information, email