Ten scientists at the University of New Mexico were recently selected for the 2018 Women in STEM awards. Their work on eight separate projects includes research on smart grass that could generate energy, the effects of head injuries in professional fighters and better ways to take medicine.

Other winners of the research awards will consider how to create multiscale modeling of swarm dynamics, how to train communication partners for people with autism and how a zebrafish can be a model for studying neuroimmune interactions. In addition, award recipients will look at how children recover from natural disasters, as well as how to optimize network resources.

They include:

  • Heather Canavan, associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Judy Cannon, associate professor in the Department of Pathology
  • Melanie Moses, associate professor in the Departments of Computer Science and Biology Cindy Gevarter, assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Amy Neel, associate professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Jessica Richardson, assistant professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Svetlana Poroseva, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering
  • Irene Salinas, associate professor in the Department of Biology
  • Eirini Eleni Tsiropoulou, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Kira Villa, assistant professor in the Department of Economics.

For a complete list of winners and research projects, visit 2018 Women in STEM Awards.

Provost Chaouki Abdallah said he looks forward to seeing what the recipients develop in the coming year.

“We have already seen the benefits of this program in the success of previous award winners, in bioengineering, physics, linguistics, and other areas,” Abdallah said. “There is another deserving group of award winners this year, and I’m excited to see what they’re working on.”

The Women in STEM awards are in their third year and are hosted by Advance at UNM, a five-year National Science Foundation grant to recruit, retain and promote women and minority STEM faculty. A committee this year reviewed 22 proposals.

Advance at UNM Director Julia Fulghum said the winners represent some of the most promising research being done at UNM.

“The breadth and depth of this year’s awardees is quite wide and winners come from a range of departments at UNM. We look forward to seeing the results of the work by this talented group of women,” she said. “It’s exciting to consider the results that some of this research could bring, from smart grass to swarm robotics.”

These grants are supported by an anonymous gift made to UNM to support research by, and professorships for, women faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Income from investment from this gift will be used to help UNM women tenure-track and tenured assistant and associate STEM professors to establish new lines of research and to develop research collaborations.

Canavan said she’s honored to apply the grant to her work on a new drug delivery system.

“I am so honored and grateful to receive the Women in STEM Advance award," Canavan said. "This funding will help us obtain the data we need to test a new drug delivery system that is more palatable for patients, which will increase the likelihood that they undergo the necessary screening tests to prevent cancer. It was my own recent experiences with cancer that changed the course of my research to pursue this new direction: using my background in bioactive polymers to improve the experiences of patients.

"This funding, therefore, comes at a crucial time for me and my group.  I plan to use the funding to optimize our hydrogel prototype design and create a cruelty-free (non-animal) model to test the design. The results will be used to support proposals to the National Institutes of Health, and other agencies.”