Vanessa Svihla

Vanessa Svihla

Associate Professor

Areas of Expertise


  • Vanessa Svihla is an associate professor at The University of New Mexico with appointments in the Organization, Information & Learning Sciences program and the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering.
  • She is also Special Assistant to the Dean: CULLS OILS
  • Svihla was the first UNM faculty member selected as a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Scholar.
  • Much of Svihla's research focuses on supporting New Mexico's diverse students to succeed.
  • In 2018, Svihla was awarded the NSF CAREER Award. In this project, she investigates how to support students to make decisions that matter and help them learn as they work on design projects.
  • Svihla worked with Albuquerque charter schools that aim to reengage youth, where she developed a new performance assessment system that helps teachers understand what is working for their students.
  • She has also helped teachers from rural New Mexico create exciting lesson plans for their classrooms based on their experiences in UNM research labs.
  • Svihla received a master's degree in geology and Ph.D. in science education from The University of Texas at Austin. She served in the Peace Corps and was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Additional areas of interest
As part of a National Science Foundation grant, she guides engineering faculty to identify the strengths diverse students bring, and then to develop design challenges that help students stay in engineering. This work was recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education in 2016 as the Best Diversity Paper in 2016 and by the 2018 Christine A. Stanley Award for Diversity and Inclusion Research in Educational Development.

If you would like to contact this expert for a story, call Rachel Whitt at (505) 277.5627 or University Communication and Marketing (UCAM) at (505) 277.5813.