University Communication and Marketing (UCAM) annually compiles a Year-in-Review highlighting its general news and feature stories across campus during the course of the calendar year. Below is a select list of 2020 stories highlighting student, faculty, staff and alumni accomplishments.

New York Yankees hire former Lobo
February 3, 2020

Rachel Balkovec reported to the New York Yankees’ Spring Training complex in Florida, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, as the team’s minor league hitting coach, but just 10 years ago the 32-year-old was living in Albuquerque as a Lobo. Balkovec, a Nebraska native, graduated from The University of New Mexico in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. She also played softball for the University for two years. She said she credits UNM for helping shape not only her career, but her life.

Deaf interpreter for state leaders is UNM grad
March 31, 2020

She’s become a local icon overnight, standing alongside New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and interpreting valuable information for the deaf community. During a chaotic and quickly-changing time, Nixo Lanning has been a constant. 

UNM partners with NM Homeland Security to distribute masks
April 29, 2020

The state’s flagship university is working with the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency to get face shields and masks to frontline workers battling COVID-19. The UNM School of Engineering jumped into action following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proactive measures to slow the spread of the virus. Engineering faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students began 3D printing face masks and producing face shields for medical providers and other first responders across the state.

Addressing COVID-19 challenges in Tribal communities
June 24, 2020

COVID-19 continues to ravage Native American communities in the Southwest, taking lives at rates 19 percent higher than other racial or ethnic groups. To help those communities, the UNM Native American Budget and Policy Institute (NABPI), in partnership with the State of New Mexico’s Indian Affairs Department, created a resource guide to consolidate information and updates. The Tribal Resources for COVID-19 page provides quick access to information on federal and state resources, as well as updates on grants and funding opportunities.

Honoring the legacy of Rudolfo Anaya; UNM mourns professor emeritus and literary great
July 1, 2020

If only six degrees of separation are between each New Mexican, there are even fewer degrees between those who worked with, learned from, and were impacted by the writings of literary pioneer Rudolfo Anaya. His talent for capturing New Mexico on pen and paper is known around the world, as is his 1972 classic, "Bless Me, Última." The beloved author died on Sunday, June 28, at the age of 82.

Racism: An Educational Series
August 31, 2020

Racism: An Educational Series began on June 19 with the piece Learning from the Past: A brief historical background and concluded with Racism: An Educational Series on the 57th anniversary of The March in Washington and the I Have a Dream speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‚Äč

Dedication and service: Agora celebrates 50 years, remains one of the oldest crisis centers in the country
October 22, 2020

In 1970, a University of New Mexico freshman in distress sought professional mental health help on campus. Unsuccessful in finding the help he needed, the student died by suicide. In response to the student’s death and spearheaded by then Psychology Chair Frank Logan, a group of students and professors founded Agora. Doors to Agora Crisis Center opened October 22, 1970.

Kelati signs professional contract, finishes as most decorated Lobo
December 2, 2020

She took the collegiate stage by storm, and now Weini Kelati is setting her sights higher. The most decorated All-American in program history signed a professional contract and will begin her professional running career immediately with the Dark Sky Distance Team. Kelati finishes her Lobo career with 13 All-Americans, four school track records, five Mountain West records (four in track), six Mountain West Conference individual titles (two in cross country, four in track), a team NCAA cross country championship and two individual NCAA titles and countless regional, conference and national awards.

Be inspired by the Class of 2020
December 8, 2020

When the Class of 2020 left for spring break in March, they had no way of knowing they would not be returning to The University of New Mexico campus this year. The COVID-19 worldwide pandemic largely shut down life as was known, and ushered in a new era of social distancing, mask-wearing and remote learning. The Class of 2020 took each change, pivot and learning adaptation in stride.

UNM alumna makes history, selected as interior secretary-designate
December 17, 2020

In a historic move, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden selected New Mexico Congresswoman, and UNM alumna, Deb Haaland to serve as the first Native American interior secretary. Haaland isn’t a stranger to shattering glass ceilings. The democratic representative was one of the first two Native American women elected to the House of Representatives in 2019.

UNM Health Sciences Center
General News Year-in-Review


Closing the Gap
UNM’s KL2 Scholar Program Helps Turn Discoveries Into Cures

Since 2010, UNM's Clinical & Translational Science Center (CTSC) has been on a mission to enhance the transfer of research from laboratories to clinical practice and out into communities. Its KL2 mentored clinical research scholars, supported by the National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, are playing a key role.

Racing Against Time
UNM Scientists Studying Ways to Repurpose Older Drugs to Treat COVID-19 Infection

A trio of University of New Mexico scientists is using machine learning to cull through a "library" of thousands of FDA-approved drugs to identify candidates that could be repurposed as treatments for the COVID-19 infection.

Taking the Next Step
Federal Grant Enables Launch of New UNM Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

The University of New Mexico has received a three-year $3.1 million grant from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) to establish an exploratory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center that will provide care and clinical investigation for New Mexico residents with cognitive decline.

UNM TREE Center Working with Communities to Mitigate COVID
Grant studies how governmental COVID-19 policies mitigate existing health inequities

From intermittent Internet access to perpetual shortages in medical personnel, New Mexico’s rural areas traditionally faced cultural and structural challenges to health care even before the current COVID pandemic hit. The University of New Mexico Health Sciences TREE Center recently received a grant to study how local and state governmental COVID-19 policies are mitigating existing health inequities of racial, ethnic and rural populations.

Pathway to Healing
UNM Health Offers Expanded Access to Eating Disorders Clinic

People living with eating disorders often present with a complex picture of interrelated medical and psychiatric conditions. The University of New Mexico's newly expanded Eating Disorders Clinic will offer patients access to diagnosis, medical treatment and referral to therapy and nutritional counseling, says director Kristina Sowar, MD.

Caring for the Community
UNM Partners With Indian Health Service for Northern Navajo Family Medicine Residency Program

The Indian Health Service and The University of New Mexico School of Medicine have partnered to create a family medicine residency program at the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M.

Shot of Prevention
Medical Students Help Pregnant Women Gain Access to Tdap Vaccine at UNM Maternity & Family Planning Clinics

The Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis vaccine (Tdap for short) is usually administered to pregnant women to protect their unborn offspring from pertussis – a serious respiratory infection better known as whooping cough. But for some, just gaining access to the vaccine can pose challenges that lead to lower rates of inoculation.

Aiming for Accuracy
Researchers Say Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Could Enhance Scientific Peer Review

As the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the world, researchers have published hundreds of papers each week reporting their findings – many of which have not undergone a thorough peer review process to gauge their reliability.

Improving the Odds
UNM’s Project Adobe Is Finding Success in Working with Formerly Incarcerated Teens

The challenges facing juveniles after they have been incarcerated in the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center are daunting. The overwhelming majority of them have substance abuse problems and mental health needs, many have dropped out of school and they may face disruptive home lives.

Legacy of Gratitude
Jeff Apodaca Gives Back by Funding Scholarships for Nursing Students

Jeff Apodaca was a 17-year-old high school senior when a cancer diagnosis – soft-tissue sarcoma – turned his life upside down. After receiving state-of-the-art treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, the son of former Gov. Jerry Apodaca underwent two years of follow-up chemotherapy at The University of New Mexico Hospital. Fully recovered, he went on to play football at UNM. Forty years later, Apodaca has made the most of a successful business career by finding ways to give back to UNMH – this year funding $5,000 scholarships for six nursing students through the UNM Foundation to help them meet their educational goals.

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