The University of New Mexico’s College of Arts and Sciences recently announced its new Regents’ Professors for the Annual Years 2025-2027.

Regents’ Professor is a special title bestowed on selected full professors who, in the judgment of the dean and on the advice of a faculty selection committee, merit recognition of their accomplishments as teachers, scholars, and leaders both in University affairs and in their national/international professional communities. In addition to the title “Regents’ Professor,” which is retained for the awardee’s career, this appointment also carries an annual stipend during the three-year term.

The three Regent’s Professors appointed are Professor Melinda Morgan, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies; Professor Jason Scott Smith, Department of History; and Professor Tom Turner, Department of Biology.

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Melinda Morgan

Melinda Morgan is a professor in Geography and Environmental Studies. Morgan has dedicated her career to natural resource and environmental issues in the American West. Her research and scholarship focus on the emerging environmental governance regimes, with a particular focus on how these approaches to environmental challenges interface with existing legal and regulatory requirements.

She teaches courses in natural resource management, including public lands, water governance, and introduction to environmental studies. Along with University of Utah law professor Robin Craig, she is the author of The End of Sustainability: Resilience and the Future of Environmental Governance in the Anthropocene.

She is currently the lead project investigator of the Intermountain West Transformation Network, a National Science Foundation funded Sustainable Regional Systems Network that represents a partnership between eight Western U.S. universities with over 50 partner organizations representing Tribal partners, governmental and non-governmental organizations, public utilities, conservation districts, irrigation districts, and municipalities. Prior to academic life, she worked for NGOs and as an attorney on natural resource issues.

Jason Scott Smith Headshot
Jason Scott Smith

Jason Scott Smith has taught courses on modern American history, the Great Depression, and the history of capitalism since joining the faculty in 2006.  He is the author of Building New Deal Liberalism: The Political Economy of Public Works, 1933-1956 and A Concise History of the New Deal, both published by Cambridge University Press.  A specialist in the history of capitalism and political economy, Smith’s research and teaching range from the nineteenth century through the global financial crisis of 2008. 

Before coming to UNM, he held fellowships at the Harvard Business School, where he was the Harvard-Newcomen Postdoctoral Fellow in Business History, and at Cornell University, where he served for two years as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in American Studies and visiting assistant professor of history and government.  In 2017, Smith received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award and was named the Mary Ball Washington Chair in American History at University College Dublin, Ireland.  He completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. 

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Thomas Turner

Thomas Turner is a professor of Biology and Curator of Fishes in the Museum of Southwestern Biology. He earned his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Florida International University in 1996, completed post-doctoral research at Texas A&M University, and joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico in 1998 as an assistant professor and curator. Turner's research, teaching, and curatorial programs focus on ecology, evolution, and conservation of aquatic life in arid regions of the world, with emphasis on the southwestern US. His research program has received continuous extramural support totaling over $14 million and produced over 120 papers and technical reports in journals like Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In 2001, he received the prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for integrating teaching, research, and curation. He mentored 13 post-doctoral scholars, 26 graduate students, and 55 undergraduate students to professional careers in environmental science and conservation. He teaches courses in Ecology & Evolution, Vertebrate Biology, Ichthyology, and Interdisciplinary Museum Science. He was elected to the Board of Governors of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, hosted the national meeting of that society in 2013, and won the National Meritorious Teaching Award in Ichthyology in 2019.

He served as director of the Museum of Southwestern Biology from 2007-2011, associate chair in the Department of Biology from 2012-2014, and as a program director in the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation from 2017-2018. He served as associate dean for Research in the College of Arts and Sciences from 2014 to 2021, and as interim associate vice president for Research from 2022-2023. Turner currently directs the Museum Research Traineeship, an NSF-funded graduate research and education program centered in the science museums at the university.

"I am delighted to congratulate the outstanding faculty recognized as Regents' Professors in the College of Arts & Sciences. Their dedication and achievements exemplify the remarkable strength of our College," said Dean Malat. 

For more information on UNM’s Regents’ Professors, visit College of Arts & Sciences Awards and Guidelines.