Spring 2016 URS Student Profiles – NMSU

Photo of Jesus Au
Jesus Au
Major: Chemical Engineering Mentor: Dr. Reza Foudazi, Assistant ProfessorChemical & Materials Engineering Department at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I was born in Tucson Arizona but grew up in a small town in Mexico called Nuevo Casas Grandes so I could be close to family. When I was a little kid, I never expected to become an engineer or a scientist since college degrees were not common in my family. It was until High school when I met Juan de Dios Fajardo, a science teacher that I was inspired to follow a career path that was related to STEM. Mr. Fajardo was an extremely knowledgeable and smart person who completed a degree in chemical engineering. I enjoyed particularly learning about reduction and oxidation, as well as balancing chemical reactions.

As a double major in Chemical Engineering and Engineering Physics, I am always faced with the challenge of pursuing excellence characteristic of an engineer. Outside of the classroom I also assume responsibility for helping raise my younger siblings, which I hope to inspire to work hard for a better future.

While pursuing my degree at New Mexico State University (NMSU), I enjoy having other extracurricular responsibilities. My responsibilities include several leadership positions in student’s organizations, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Engineering Council, and the Associated Students of New Mexico State University (ASNMSU). In AIChE I been an officer for over two years, where I serve mainly as the Liaison between the NMSU AIChE and BMES student chapters. About two years ago I founded the NMSU BMES student chapter on campus since then BMES has made a significant impact at NMS. BMES helps students get involved in projects such as building a bionic claw and get engineering experience. Last Semester I became a representative at the Engineering Council, which supports engineering organizations get funding and get recognized by NMSU, it was here where I was elected to fill an open position for the College of Engineering Senate. In this position, I served as an interim Senator and a couple of weeks ago I was sworn-in as an official College of Engineering Senator.

I have participated in three different research projects: confined chemical reactivity, perovskite-based solar cells, and solid state polymer electrolytes. This Semester I can continue my research in the field of polymers thanks to the Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) program. This semester with the support of my advisor Dr. Reza Foudazi, my coworker Aaron Lindsay and the AMP program I got accepted to the prestigious University of Minnesota (UMN) Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) REU program. This summer at the UMN MRSEC program REU I will be working the direction of Dr. Timothy P. Lodge, who is a leader in the field of polymer science research.

Being an Undergraduate Research Scholar (URS) in the AMP program at NMSU has opened many doors for me. It is allowing me to pursue goals that otherwise would be difficult to reach. The well-structured workshops which include how to build a personal statement, research presentation techniques and speakers allow me to explore more options for my future as a scientist. In the future, I hope to be able to pursue a higher level of education so that I can give back to society.

Photo of Luis Barrera
Luis Barrera
Major: Engineering Physics and Aerospace Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Park Sun, Assistant ProfessorMechanical Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am majoring in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Aerospace Engineering and also pursuing minors in mathematics and business administration. I am president of SEPh (Society of Engineering Physics) and a member of SPS (Society of Physics Students) and Sigma Gamma Tau (Aerospace engineering honor society). I am also VP of Finance for the Engineering Council. In addition, I currently work for Raytheon as a part-time employee. Furthermore, I am a President’s Associates’ Scholar and engineering ambassador.

As a child, I enjoyed disassembling everyday things in order to learn how they work and brainstorm ways to make them better or more efficient. As I progressed in school, I found a love for math and physics which strengthened my ambition to pursue education in an area where I could utilize my talents and work towards reaching my goal of working on cutting-edge technology. Through the New Mexico AMP Undergraduate Research Scholars Program (URS), I have had the opportunity to further this goal by working with Dr. Sun and gaining the experience necessary to be competitive in my pursuit of graduate school. I hope to continue with research for the rest of my undergraduate schooling and advance my knowledge and skills of mechatronics and programming in order to get into graduate school and eventually work in research and development.

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Joshua Catanach
Major: Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Homgmei Luo, Associate ProfessorChemical & Materials Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

As an undergraduate in the Chemical and Material Engineering (CHME) Department at New Mexico State University, I have had countless opportunities to challenge myself. Academically, I have put great effort into maintaining a 3.91 GPA, which has allowed me to be a member of The College of Engineering Dean’s List and a Crimson Scholar. Outside of academics I have also had many opportunities to gain invaluable experience that I will be able to use throughout my career, including several semesters of research through the AMP URS program, two unique internships with ExxonMobil, and several leadership positions within the CHME Department. I hope to take the knowledge and experience that I have gained through these opportunities to solve challenging, real-world problems.

I plan to Graduate with my BS in Chemical Engineering in May 2016, and I have accepted a job with ExxonMobil Research and Engineering in Paulsboro, New Jersey. I am excited to utilize the skills and knowledge that I have acquired at New Mexico State University through my academics and through programs like the URS to succeed in the workplace.

Photo of Melissa Chavez
Melissa Chavez
Major: Biology Faculty Mentor: Dr. Amanda Ashley, Assistant ProfessorChemistry and Biochemistry at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am currently double majoring in Biology and Microbiology and also pursuing a minor in Chemistry anticipated to graduate in spring 2018. I am participating in the New Mexico Undergraduate Research Scholars AMP program, a National Honor Fraternity Phi Sigma Pi, and also a National Leadership and Honors Organization Sigma Alpha Lambda. Being a part of the NM AMP program has helped me understand where I want to go in life as far as career goals and personal goals I set for myself. Research that I am currently involved in for the lab is with the Chemistry and Biochemistry department focusing on replication of genetic information and how repair mechanisms play a part in maintaining genomic stability. I have gained knowledge as to how to maintain the lab, how to perform various assays as well as how to use imaging with microscopy, and also how to maintain cells in cell culture. This will lead me on the path I choose to go for my career in the lab. Future long term goals I have mind set is pursuing a M.S in biological sciences and continue working in a lab.

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Victor Lara
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Zohrab Samani, ProfessorCivil Engineering Department at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Hello, my name is Victor Lara, and I am currently on my fifth and final year of a bachelor’s program in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University. Although, I did not start my college career at NMSU, I am glad I made the transfer to this fine institution and am grateful for the countless opportunities that have been afforded to me since day one of my arrival. I am a non-traditional student who had a 10 year break between high school and college. Even though getting back into the groove of studying was difficult, the welcoming atmosphere of NMSU coupled with the encouraging leadership of the professors in my department made it easy to get involved and begin to learn. While taking curriculum classes I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bandini and Dr. Samani in Soil Mechanics and Hydraulics respectively. Both of these knowledgeable professors became my mentors in the investigation of Liquid Organic Fertilizer (LOF) as a source to replenish nutrients to soils and increase crop production naturally. I plan on continuing this research until I graduate and beyond as I pursue a master’s in structural engineering at NMSU.

Photo of Travis LeDoux
Travis LeDoux
Major: Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Catherine Brewer, Assistant ProfessorChemical & Materials Engineering Department at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Currently studying Engineering with emphasis in renewable energy. When I began my College Career, I originally had intent to start as a chemical engineering major, but was swayed to do civil engineering, as I come from a family of civil engineers. I had intent to pursue chemical engineering as my first degree seeing as I have a love for math and chemistry. I have always been fascinated with chemistry, even as a young boy, and was pushed to excel in advanced classes growing up, so as to later prepare my self for what I would encounter when I entered the college environment.

I am currently studying to obtain a BS of Chemical Engineering with an anticipated graduation date of May 2018. Eventually pursuing a MS in Chemical Engineering, or Computer Science. I have been fortunate enough to have had opportunities to take part in several programs that not only allow me to travel abroad while still studying Engineering, without disrupting my time line for graduation, but to also obtain valuable research opportunities.

Along with having had an internship with Los Alamos National Labs, New Mexico AMP has lent its self to provide this wonderful research opportunity. In which, I have gained insight while studying Hydrothermal Depolymerization of Algae in Batch and Continuous Flow Reactor Designs. Being able to work in a lab has allowed me to understand myself better and because of such, I have a much more definitive idea that, lab work and research is in fact what I would like to do career.

Photo of Jose Melendez
Jose Melendez
Major: Mechanical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Steve Stochaj, ProfessorKlipsch School of Electrical Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Currently I am a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Technology-Mechanical. In the future I want to be a testing engineer for NASA. I chose mechanical engineering for my major because in high school I was involved in welding and manufacturing. I also took a basic engineering class as a high school elective and it made me realize that I wanted to be an engineer. In the class we went over how basic engines work and that interested me. I plan on graduating December 2017.

Participating with Dr Stochaj in the New Mexico AMP program has helped me learn a lot and gain experience working as a team. The current project I am working on involves the development of a 3U Satellite that will measure the neutrons in the atmosphere to better understand space weather. With the experience that New Mexico AMP has given me I will be able to be a successful engineer for NASA.

Photo of Jamie Moya
Jamie Moya
Major: Engineering Physics Faculty Mentor: Dr. Stefan Zollner, Academic Department HeadPhysics at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am a proud native New Mexican who is expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics in the Spring of 2017.  After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school in physics.  My goal is to use my degrees to bridge the gap between science and technology.

I have had the opportunity to participate in the New Mexico AMP Undergraduate Research Scholars Program for the Summer of 2015 through Spring 2016.  During my time in the program, I have learned about characterization techniques for materials, including taking x-ray reflectivity, x-ray diffraction, atomic force microscopy, and ellipsometry measurements as well, as analyzing the data.

Photo of Cyrena Ridgeway
Cyrena Ridgeway
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Douglas Cortes, Assistant ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

As a college sophomore studying at Doña Ana Community College I was selected by the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation (New Mexico AMP) to participate in the Summer Community College Opportunity for Research Experience (SCCORE) program in 2015, where I found my passion and made new aspirations. I was studying to be a Mechanical Engineer and thought that I had found my true calling. I applied as a Mechanical Engineering student to the SCCORE program but due to the large number of Mechanical Engineering students in the program, I was placed on a Civil Engineering project. After about a week in the lab I fell in love with Civil Engineering. Geotechnical Engineering, to be specific, and I would have never know if it weren’t for the SCCORE program and the great work taking place in the Civil Engineering Department at NMSU.

I plan to continue my Undergraduate Research with AMP and further my education as a Civil Engineer. I will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2018, and I plan to work towards a Ph.D. in Geotechnical Engineering.

Photo of Andrew Rodriguez
Andrew Rodriguez
Major: Mechanical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Andreas Gross, Assistant ProfessorMechanical Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Greetings! My name is Andrew Rodriquez. I am currently a sophomore at New Mexico State University. I am studying to get a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S.) in Mechanical Engineering. I chose mechanical engineering because growing up I caught interest in building and designing small things with my dad. As I grew the stuff we would build began to get more complex. So basically I grew into this field. My expected graduation date is December 2018. I transferred to New Mexico State from NMSU-Carlsbad in the fall semester of 2015. Since entering college, I have been involved in two New Mexico AMP programs, as a SCCORE intern and as a URS student. I am currently a URS student. The opportunities the NM AMP has given me really helped me learn more about engineering and how to research more efficiently and effectively. I am currently researching about a solar assisted model aircraft for rangeland monitoring. This research interests me because I am getting hands on work and computer work with this project. I am able to give my input on designing the aircraft and I get to build it from scratch. I plan to get my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering then enter the work field. Once I obtain a steady job I plan to go back to school for a Master’s of Science (M.S.) in Mechanical Engineering, hopefully on my companies expense.

Photo of Alejandra Bonilla Romero
Alejandra Bonilla Romero
Major: Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Young Ho Park, Associate Professor,Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Personal Statement

I am currently a senior planning to graduate this May 2016, with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, along with a minor in Mathematics at New Mexico State University. Throughout my high school years, I harvested a strong interest in the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), which led me to choose engineering as my major. I have been involved in the NMSU society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES). Recently I joined the NMSU Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). In the summer of 2015, through the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation program, I received the opportunity to begin assisting Dr. Young Ho Park in a study focused on the molecular dynamic simulation of the lithium-ion battery. These programs have enabled me to grow as an engineering student, enhance my technical and communication skills, and network with other engineers from other departments. My research experience has allowed me to apply my knowledge in a tangible manner, thus reinforcing my decision in pursuing my career in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

Photo of Adam Sanchez
Adam Sanchez
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Brad Weldon, Assistant ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Engineering has been my passion long before I was accepted into NMSU as an undergraduate. Throughout my education, engineering opportunities were placed in front of me which I partook in. I briefly shifted my focus to Architecture before meeting Dr. Brad Weldon, a professor at NMSU. I worked with Dr. Weldon through EXCEL: Experience-based Career Education Learning while completing my junior and senior year of high school. Here, I shifted my career focus towards Civil Engineering as I gained a better understanding the profession working with Dr. Weldon and partaking in his research projects.

I am in my fourth year studying Civil Engineering with a Mathematics minor. My expected graduation date is May 2017, followed by the intention of entering the Master’s Program with either a structural or geotechnical emphasis. I have participated in organizations such as the American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and Alliance for Minority Participation. Research projects have consisted of soil cementation for the utilization in design and construction, recycled concrete aggregates for structural applications under my mentor Dr. Weldon. My main goal as a Civil Engineer is to enter the field with as much knowledge as possible in order to begin a successful Engineering career. I hope to end my Engineering career having made a difference in the world or lives of others through my work.

Photo of Griselda Saucedo
Griselda Saucedo
Major: Mechanical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Delia J. Valles-Rosales, Associate ProfessorIndustrial Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am currently an undergraduate student at New Mexico State University (NMSU) seeking a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. My expected graduation date is December 2016.  When I graduated from high school I knew that I wanted to choose a major that could help people out and that was challenging. I was never exposed to engineering as a child, but nothing stopped me to get into the engineering program. I transferred from El Paso Community College (EPCC) in August 2013 to start my bachelor’s degree at NMSU. At first I was hard to adapt to the new system, but at the end I ended up joining engineering societies (SWE and MAES) that helped me through the transferring process. After I get my bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering I would like to get a Master’s Degree in either Mechanical or Optical Engineering. I have worked with the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation in the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program along with Dr. Delia Valles in her Rapid Prototyping Laboratory and 3D printing research. I have also been offered an internship for this summer in the Hands-on Micro/Nano IMPACT REU program. I will be working on an MEMS Pressure Sensor Fabricated using Next Generation 3D Printing.

Photo of Anahi Soto
Anahi Soto
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lambis Papelis, Associate ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am currently an undergraduate student at New Mexico State University (NMSU) seeking a B.S. in Civil Engineering. My graduation date is May 2016. I transferred from El Paso Community College (EPCC) in December 2013 to start my classes at NMSU in 2014. I transferred in order to get my bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering after studying two years at EPCC. I am currently enrolled in New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation in the Undergraduate Research Assistantship program. The research project I participated was on the field of Environmental Engineering. I assisted Dr. Nirmala Khandan during the months of September to December in 2014. We worked with Galderia Sulphuraria, fresh water algae, in order to clean wastewater and produce biofuel. Since January 2015, I have being working with Dr. Lambis Papelis. The project consists of the use of zeolites to remove heavy metals from water at a lower cost. This field of study interest me because I want to protect the environment, and work in projects that include the new tendency of “green buildings.” My future plans are to get experience in the field and after a couple of years get a M.S. in Environmental Engineering. Also, I want to get my Professional Engineer license.

Photo of Martin Teran
Martin Teran
Major: Wildlife and Conservation Ecology Management Faculty Mentor: Dr. Alvaro Romero, Assistant ProfessorEntomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am in my final semester of study at NMSU and my date of graduation is this coming May 14th 2016. An important reason for choosing Wildlife Management is because I grew around people that works on conservation of animals and plants in areas where survivorship of native species are threatened by human activity. I intend to use my knowledge acquired during my career to help the conservation of natural resources and animals as well as educating people to live in a community without damaging wildlife. During the last year I have also been working in a project on bed bugs as part of the development of methods to prevent bed bugs. These activities are part of a fellowship granted me by The New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation (New Mexico AMP). I am also working in the Onion Breeding Program as an Agricultural Assistant. Given my training in various areas my expectation after graduation is explore work possibilities in wildlife, agricultural or pest control areas. All these areas are very important to society and I am confident that my work greatly contribute to the solutions of many problems of this area.

Photo of Amadeo Trujillo
Amadeo Trujillo
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Lambis Papelis, Associate ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I always enjoyed the perseverance and drive necessary to accomplish a scientific presentation. In high school I played basketball for my high school team where I learned not only how to work as a team for one common goal but also how hard work and dedication will earn you respect for your work. As I got older and left the small town where I grew up to come to NMSU, I had to find a new hobby to take up my time. The new hobby was engineering. The NMSU Civil Engineering Department has helped me develop my problem solving skills as well as my ability to conduct a professional experiment. I have participated in the New Mexico AMP Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program since Summer 2015. I have learned research skills from mentors, graduate students, and many others. I have learned to conduct a scientific experiment and to prove or disprove a research question. I also have learned to present the experiment in a professional presentation through various opportunities that AMP has provided me with.

Photo of Anneliese Trujillo
Anneliese Trujillo
Major: Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Champa Sengupta Gopalan, ProfessorPlant and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am currently a junior at New Mexico State University (NMSU) majoring in Chemical Engineering and Pre-medicine. I anticipate graduating from NMSU in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and the complete perquisites needed for medical school. My future long-term goals are to gain acceptance into medical school, preferably at the University of New Mexico (UNM). I am in the New Mexico AMP Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) program. This program made it possible for me to put more time into research that would normally be spent working to pay for my college costs. Academically, I have gained knowledge on the various techniques used while conducting research and an in-depth understanding on subjects that include biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, statistics, and biochemistry through hands on learning.  Medical schools like for applicants to have research experience and would like to see around 40 hours of experience. However, I will have over 900 hours of research experience. I thoroughly enjoy my research and am incredibly thankful to have such a wonderful mentor who was originally my genetics professor, and introduced me to the art of genetic engineering.

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Alexandra Valdez
Major: Chemical Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. William Maio, Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Personal Statement

I am studying to be the person who creates the cool new foods you see on the market shelves. To do this, I chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering because of its broad applicability in many fields. I will be able to take the next step in my career after my graduation in May 2017. Thanks to the New Mexico AMP programs, I have I better idea of my career path now. I have participated in the Undergrad Research Scholars program through AMP since the summer of 2015. The experience through this program has given me the ability to get a taste of research without any monetary issues. I have now come to the conclusion that I really do enjoy conducting all kinds of research and would like to look into pursing a higher degree so that I may have a career in research and development. My research interests have really driven me in the right direction of finding what I enjoy most. For example, I am currently very fascinated in doing research in product development. In addition to my research, my perseverance in my educational/career goals have driven me a great deal due to my leadership roles as a college of engineering ambassador and by being an officer in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Photo of Carlos Vigil
Carlos Vigil
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Paola Bandini, Assistant ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

Growing up in a Hispanic community there is one thing that all young males must do, and that is work. I grew up in northern New Mexico and at a young age I worked various construction jobs with my dad and uncles. I became very intrigued with not only how a house or road is constructed, but also the process and the materials used in the construction. Naturally I wanted to stick with what I know, but I wanted to continue my education in the matter further, so I pursed a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. I am pleased to announce I will be graduating May 14th, 2016.

I have interned at a company for two summers out of Santa Fe, New Mexico called BSN Santa Fe. BSN Santa Fe is a New Mexico DBE and Service Disabled Veteran certified Professional Civil Engineering Firm with a Materials Testing (AASHTO and New Mexico State certified) Lab and is a business that provides services that deal with professional engineering services, construction management, engineering consultants, material testing analysis, surveying, training, SWPPP management, and drafting.  This internship has given me a sense of enlightenment that I have chosen the right career path because I enjoy everything I do there and the experience is helpful with what I’m learning at New Mexico State University. I have recently accepted a permanent position with Abrams out in Austin, Texas upon graduation and I will starting my career June of 2016.

Photo of Christian Wong
Christian Wong
Major: Civil Engineering Faculty Mentor: Dr. Douglas Cortes, Assistant ProfessorCivil Engineering at New Mexico State University

Personal Statement

I am currently seeking my Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University with an expected graduation date of May 2016. I participated in the Bridge Inspection Co-op Program directed by Dr. David Jauregui from January to the end of June of 2015. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to gain hands-on experience inspecting bridges for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. This is my final semester as an undergraduate research scholar (URS) with the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP) program. I am currently researching mineral dissolution in polymer-coated soils under the mentorship of Dr. Douglas Cortes. I greatly enjoy conducting research because it is a direct way of learning about specific civil engineering problems and developing their solutions. Civil engineering drives economies, industries, and nations. It is important to me to contribute my knowledge and skills to improve infrastructures effectively and efficiently. The quality of design and construction is essential to public safety and workplace safety. After graduation, I will be working as a transportation engineer designing cost-efficient and sustainable roadways.