Maria Lane, a professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, has been named dean of Graduate Studies announced University of New Mexico Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs James Holloway.

“As a research university, Graduate Studies is an incredibly important part of the University of New Mexico’s educational mission.  Graduate students dive deep into a specific field of knowledge or practice, and often learn by being immersed in the creation of new knowledge or new cultural works," said Holloway. "Dr. Maria Lane has displayed a selfless dedication to this kind of education during her tenure at UNM, and is just the right person to help us move our excellent graduate programs forward.”

Lane is familiar with the position, as she is currently serving as the Graduate Studies interim dean, a role she was appointed to last summer. Leading a staff of 10, Lane heads an impactful unit that provides broad support for graduate and professional students across UNM’s Main and Health Science campuses. Under Lane’s leadership, key focus areas in Graduate Studies have included program and academic completion, scholarship and fellowship administration, graduate curriculum development and review, mentorship programming, student grievances and general student support.

“Throughout my career, I have invested tremendous energy in graduate teaching, advising, research, advocacy, and mentorship,” said Lane. “I look forward to putting this experience to work on behalf of all graduate and professional students at UNM.”

Lane has spent the past year developing a strategic plan that positions Graduate Studies to transition away from human resources work and toward a focus on the educational success and professional development needs of graduate students. As part of this work, she evaluated and proposed improvements in coordination between Graduate Studies and other UNM student support units, including those in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Division of Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“Key priorities for the next year include expanding our mentorship programming, streamlining recruitment efforts, increasing the transparency of decision-making in graduate education, and providing improved support to the staff and faculty who lead graduate programs across campus,” said Lane.

Lane also advanced institutional goals to increase the number of underrepresented minority doctoral students by 2030, in alignment with the commitments articulated by the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities (HSRU) and UNM’s Division of Equity and Inclusion. “As a member of the HSRU Alliance, UNM has committed to a goal of doubling the number of underrepresented doctoral students at UNM. Graduate Studies will need to play a key role in this ambitious goal, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to lead this critical unit in such important work,” said Lane.

Lane served as department chair for Geography & Environmental Studies from 2014-2019. She was recently awarded the 2023-2025 Presidential Teaching Fellowship, UNM’s highest teaching honor. Lane also founded and served as director for the R.H. Mallory Center for Community Geography. The Center’s mission is to build partnerships between UNM and its surrounding communities that are effective in addressing critical human-environment issues. To achieve this mission, it coordinates and funds community-engaged research and learning activities.

Lane has been teaching at UNM since 2006 when she was hired as an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Geography. She was appointed as an assistant professor (2007), associate professor (2013) and professor (2020). As a historical geographer, Lane’s research focuses on environmental management approaches and debates, often focusing on the origins and persistence of scientific management approaches. Her courses focus on historical geography, critical cartography, and the geography of New Mexico and the Southwest.

She is the author of Fluid Geographies (U. Chicago Press, 2024) and Geographies of Mars (U. Chicago Press, 2011) – books about the colonial assumptions and impulses inherent in scientific knowledge – as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is a recent editor of the Journal of Historical Geography, recent chair of the J.B. Jackson Book Prize award committee, and a member of the Scientific Committee for the International Conference of Historical Geographers.

Lane has also served as a committee chair, member and supervisor for many doctoral, master’s and honors committees, and has provided service to the University and several national and international committees.

Lane earned her BA in Latin-American Studies from the University of Virginia (1995), an MS in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin (2000) and a Ph.D. in Geography, also from the University of Texas at Austin (2006).