INRO (Intramural NIAID Research Opportunities)

Congratulations to NMSU-HHMI research Scholars Mikayla Pulliam and Alvaro Hobbs for being accepted to interview with potential mentors for the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) INRO post baccalaureate fellowship program, This is a higly competetive program and up to 20 undergraduate, graduate and medical students will be selected.


Kellie Jurado, 2010 NMSU-HHMI, alumna wins one of five $60,000.00 L’Oréal Women in Science Fellowships

Kellie Ann Jurado is a postdoctoral scientist in Immunobiology at Yale University. Jurado’s research focuses on the Zika virus (ZIKV), an emerging mosquito-borne flavivirus that can cause severe birth defects and neurological disease. Jurado is seeking to understand how ZIKV causes damage to the nervous system, which is critical to developing treatments. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will help fund this research and further Jurado’s goal of becoming an independent research scientist. It will also support her work on “Cut the Risk,” an educational campaign on sexual and reproductive health, with a special emphasis on the benefits of the HPV vaccine, targeting minority communities, which she is developing with several partners at Yale Medical School and Yale New Haven Hospital. Having benefitted from STEM outreach programs herself, Jurado has been dedicated to increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM throughout her career, most recently serving as a volunteer teacher in an afterschool program in Connecticut. Jurado, 30, received a Ph.D. in Virology at Harvard University and a B.S. in Biology and Microbiology at New Mexico State University, where she graduated first in her class. Jurado was born and raised in New Mexico, and currently lives in Connecticut, with her husband where she enjoys exercising and cooking in her free time. News provided by L’Oréal, October 10, 2017.

See also Las Cruces Sun News portrait from December 9, 2017,


Research in Uruguay- Clara Hansen

NMSU Honors College student, Clara Hansen shares the research she conducted in Uruguay over a period of eight weeks in summer 2017. This research was made possible through the Honors College Scholarship and Aggies Go Global.


2017 Honors College Student, Sydney Salas, Shares Her Experience While Conducting Bacterial Communication Research in France in Summer 2017


College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Senior Award Spring 2017

Dean’s Undergraduate Award of Excellence Spring 2017

The College of Arts & Sciences has selected NMSU-HHMI alumna, Alejandra Lerma, as Outstanding Senior for Spring 2017. She also was awarded the Dean’s Undergraduate Award for Excellence. Alejandra graduated from the NMSU-HHMI Program in 2016. Alejandra will graduate from NMSU in spring 2017 with a Bachelor in Animal Science, Biology and Women’s Studies. As a Research Scholar of the NMSU-HHMI Program (2013-2016) she worked in the lab of Dr. Ryan Ashley in the department of animal science. Congratulations!


Best Undergraduate Oral Presentation

Senior Research Scholar, Dylan Gallegos, from the Hanley lab, won the award for best undergraduate oral presentation at the meeting of the Rio Grande branch of the American Society for Microbiology on April 8, 2017 at NMSU. Congratulations!


Honors College International Research Scholarship

Each year the Honors College at NMSU gives one or more awards to facilitate research over the summer in an international context. On Friday they interviewed the finalists for this prestigious award and selected Clara Hansen (biology) as the winner, with three additional students receiving smaller awards as Honorable Mentions. The research the students propose are all in STEM fields and they will be working in Uruguay, France, Germany, and Korea.The Honors College is working with other units on campus to help ensure adequate funding to realize these research plans, and is grateful to Gary Lowe and Aggies go Global for continued help for these deserving students (Activity Report Provost Office, March 11-17, 2017).

Also, Biology major and NMSU-HHMI Research Scholar, Sydney Salas, received Honorable Mention for the scholarship and will be receiving some support for her summer research project in France on squid-microbe interactions.


Las Cruces Academy students visited the electric fish lab, Biol 309

By Vince Gutschick, Board Chair Las Cruces Academy.

Ten of our students in grades 3-8 visited the research laboratory of Prof. Graciela Unguez for 3 hours.  She and her group study weakly electric fish (Stenopygus species), who use their electrical sense to find food and avoid predators. They also can regrow their tails, providing a great study of tissue development, as well as genetics and physiology. The students along with Head of School Dr. Lou Ellen Kay and Board Chair Dr. Vince Gutschick caught the Las Cruces bus near our school and rode to campus. Graciela’s undergraduate students had laid out about 8 stations, where our students could learn about the fish with hands-on activities. Check out the pictures with students using the detector of the fish’s electric fields, and also the fish themselves, both hiding in favorite tubes or swimming with ethereal fins. At the end of the visit, many of us participated in a game of navigating by touch (hula hoops).


Two Junior Research Scholars accepted into HHMI EXROP in summer 2017

Please congratulate NMSU-HHMI Junior Research Scholars Eliana Griego (Brad Shuster lab) and Dante Avalos (Erik Yukl lab) for being accepted into the HHMI EXROP (Exceptional Research Opportunities Program). Application to the program is by nomination only and is open to undergraduate students who are from racial, ethnic, and other underrepresented groups in the sciences.

  • The EXROP program consist of 10 weeks of full time research in the lab of an HHMI scientist. Award recipients will be matched with a lab according to the students research interest
  • $5,000 stipend
  • Long distance travel and housing
  • Attending of two annual EXROP meetings at HHMI headquarters in Chevy Chase, Maryland, where they will meet former and current EXROP students
  • EXROP students may be eligible for a second research opportunity in their EXROP lab (EXROP Capstone)
  • EXROP students who pursue the PhD degree will be eligible for continued HHMI support in their PhD training through the Gilliam Fellows program.


30th Annual Biosymposium, October 2016

Congratulations to NMSU-HHMI Research Scholars Lynsey Kovar for winning the 30th annual Biosymposium “Best Undergraduate Talk”, and Aldo Ramirez and Cindy Buraczyk for sharing first place in the category “Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation”.


NMSU-HHMI alumna, Hannah Drumm, conducted field research in Malaysian Borneo in connection with an international externship in summer 2016

Oil, Monkeys and, Mosquitoes: Fieldwork in Malaysian Borneo



NMSU-HHMI alumna Kellie Jurado, Postdoctoral Fellow at Yale School of Medicine, looks into The Mystery of Zika’s Path to the Placenta

The Atlantic, 2016


NMSU biology professor retires after 23 years, plans next adventure

Dana Beasley, For the Sun-News 3:20 p.m. MDT April 16, 2016

LAS CRUCES – A couple of weeks ago, professor Ralph Preszler retired from New Mexico State University. Now, the former biology department head is off the grid.

“It’s another adventure,” he said of his retirement. Since the start of April, Preszler has swam in the Gila River, camped in the Guadalupe Mountains and made plans to brush up on his Spanish for a future trip to Patagonia.

With more than two decades of service to the College of Arts and Sciences, Preszler watched the biology department evolve from blackboards and handwritten reports, to interactive “flipped” classrooms and lectures in professional-level research facilities.

“I think the way we teach is much more engaging now, than it was when I started out,” Preszler said.

As a longtime director of NMSU’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute – a nationally-recognized program providing biological and medical research funding – Preszler introduced the department to curriculum reforms for lower level biology courses, and paved the way for peer instruction and faculty-mentored undergraduate research.

“What I admired so much about Ralph was his teaching and commitment to undergraduate education. He’s an incredibly creative teacher,” said Michele Shuster, associate professor of biology and NMSU-HHMI program director.

“If it wasn’t for Ralph and his openness to thinking about different ways of teaching, we wouldn’t be where we’re at with our undergraduates right now.”

Preszler also served as mentor for students like Chiann-Ling Cindy Yeh, an NMSU-HHMI research scholar and senior genetics and biotechnology major.

“He helped me with not only my undergraduate thesis, but also in applying for national scholarships and writing recommendations,” Yeh said. “He offered really great advice, and I don’t think I would be here today without him.”

In 2015, Yeh was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a highly competitive national award that supports outstanding students in the fields of math, science or engineering. This fall, she will begin graduate school at the University of Washington’s Department of Genome Sciences.

Preszler said some of his favorite memories of his time at NMSU include seeing undergraduates mature into nationally competitive researchers.

He began his work improving undergraduate education in 1993 as a postdoctoral researcher studying plant and insect ecology, joining the NMSU biology department fresh from graduate school at Northern Arizona University. When his funding ended, he accepted a staff position in the department to design new teaching laboratories for students.

“I ended up enjoying that quite a lot,” Preszler said. “After about seven years, the department opened a tenure track faculty line to hire someone who would conduct research in science education, rather than in biology directly, so I applied for that position and got hired as a tenure track faculty.”

 Nearly 20 years after joining NMSU as a postdoctoral researcher, Preszler was appointed as academic head of the Department of Biology, a position he held for four years until his retirement March 31.

“I’ve worked very closely with Ralph over the last few years,” said Angus Dawe, associate professor of biology and interim department head. “He has always been a particularly sincere and generous individual to work with.”

In recognition of Preszler’s 23 years of service to the biology department, dozens of faculty, staff and students gathered on the steps of Foster Hall for a group photo earlier this month.

“I think it’s rare to have a job that you find interesting,” Preszler said of his time at NMSU. “There are certainly parts of it that are just plain work, but there’s a lot of it that’s quite fulfilling. I’d like to thank the people at NMSU for giving me this opportunity – it’s been great.”

Dana Beasley writes for University Communications and can be reached at


Diving headfirst into research

Dana Beasley, Panorama spring 2016