ACES Impact Stories

Foundational Education and Training

The College of ACES conducts traditional education functions, like other NMSU colleges. The academic programs are enriched by participation from researchers and Extension faculty, so learning opportunities are not limited to the classroom, thus preparing students for their chosen professions.

Learning Games Lab

Learning Games Lab faculty conduct research-based design to inform development of learning tools. In 2017, the lab hosted 60 youth over several sessions. These "youth consultants" tested games for the Math Snacks suite; animations and interactives for several projects on water, food safety and chemistry; and the newest app from Facebook, Messenger Kids. Youth consultants develop their media literacy skills while providing feedback on usability, content, and appeal of the tools. NMSU's Games Lab researchers help Facebook developers identify desires of children when online, such as ways to be polite, and ways to build social skills through digital communication.

Barbara Chamberlin,, Instructional Designer & Asst. Department Head

Grant Writing Training

Building strong grant writing skills in faculty and students helps ACES secure vital financial resources to serve our educational, research and Extension missions. In 2017, we trained 75 faculty and graduate students in the basics of writing fundable proposals. A post-retroactive evaluation indicated that 79% of participants increased their understanding that successful grant writing will increase their likelihood of positive career outcomes; 85% reported increased proposal writing skills; and 97% reported increased knowledge of how to increase the probability their proposal would be funded.

Wendy Hamilton,, Extension Program Specialist

Livestock Disease and Veterinary Care- US Beef Academy

The United States Beef Academy (USBA) is an educational event for young men and women who are motivated to learn about the beef industry. It is a five day, intensive educational opportunity and focuses on current methods and technology used in beef production. Each day of the Academy focuses on a different scientific area of beef production. This event is under the direction of New Mexico State University Department of Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Agri-Life Extension, and Colorado State University. The last two years we have had students from nine states and Mexico.

John C Wenzel DVM,, Extension Veterinarian

Plant responses to a changing climate

Working in collaboration with Christopher Javornik of the University of Colorado , Dr. Akasha Faist has developed a working case study for undergraduate classrooms. This two-day lesson plan guides plant ecology students through seminal climate change papers using best practices in active learning. By the end of the module students have a better grasp on the potential impacts of climate change as well as assimilating ecological principles and explaining these principles to their peers.

Akasha Faist,, Asst. Professor/Rangeland Ecology

Students use techniques learned in class to evaluate a long-term invasive plant research project

The Vegetation Measurements class students evaluated the effects of herbicide treatment on rangeland health and productivity by applying the techniques and statistical analyses learned in the classroom in a "hands on" field activity. Student teams designed sampling protocols and collected field day during 3 field trips to research plots at the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center. After evaluating the data they collected, students showed during oral presentations how herbicide treatments not only controlled honey mesquite but also increased grass production compared to controls.

Derek Bailey,, RGSC Professor

Financial Feasibility Analysis

Starting a value-added agricultural business is exciting but risky. Before starting the venture, business entrepreneurs should understand their market including competitors and customers and develop a plan that will drive their business decisions. Business feasibility analysis is an important tool to help entrepreneurs explore value-added agricultural opportunities. Students in a special topics course taught in Fall 2017 increased their analytical abilities as they developed a business plan that explored the feasibility of building and operating a malt processing facility in Southern New Mexico. The students presented their findings to representatives from the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and to local farmers.

Jay Lillywhite,, Department Head/Professor

World-class chemical analysis instrumentation brought to the NMSU College of ACES

The ACES Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation Lab (CAIL) installed $1.8 M worth of new analytical equipment in 2017, comprising a high-resolution Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometer, custom signal processing electronics, and a nano-flow liquid chromatography system. This instrumentation is state-for-the art for chemical characterization of extremely complex mixtures and will be used in applications that range from alternative fuel research, disease research, alternative water source uses and fundamental biology. A truly interdisciplinary effort, the project draws support from three colleges.

Tanner Schaub,, Director, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety

Developing Innovative Experiential, STEM-Based Climate Curricula for Middle School Youth

Dr. Thomas Dormody and his collaborator, Dr. Peter Skelton, Director of the NMSU Extension and Research Youth Agricultural Science Center, found that middle school youth participating in Center programs in Las Vegas, NM, scored higher on the NM standardized science test than students from a comparison school. Research findings are leading to final adjustments of a new middle school climate science curriculum to improve youths’ science comprehension, understanding of weather and climate science, as well as interest them in careers related to agriculture, natural resources, and environmental sciences.

Thomas Dormody,, Professor

Wind Power Technology Center

Water is an important but limited resource in the U.S. Southwest. Even in today's high-tech world, windmills continue to provide water to farm and ranch operations throughout the country. In Windmill Technology Workshops taught at the Wind Power Technology Center on NMSU's main campus, over 850 participants have learned the fundamentals of using wind and solar applications to pump water. NMSU's workshop is the only windmill workshop taught by a university in the United States, and has attracted participants from all over our country and the world including ranchers, professional millers, Tribal range managers, windmill enthusiasts, and traditional college students.

Contact: Carlos Rosencrans,, Associate Professor

Reaching out to NM Kids through Soil Science

Hands-on activities that engage school kids can help interest them in agricultural and environmental sciences. Kids of all ages can get their hands dirty learning about soils, erosion, and rocks during field trips to the NMSU campus or during outreach events at their schools. Faculty and grad students from the College set up learning stations where the kids can look through a microscope to see nematodes, practice soil texture-by-feel, identify rocks and see how compost is made. Other lessons included the filtering properties of soil, how covering a soil helps reduce erosion, and what kind of products come from soil.

April Ulery,, Professor

Teaching Agricultural Mechanics Coursework

NMSU is one of the few universities that still offers a concentration in Agricultural Mechanics. This subject is important in building confidence, especially for those who might never have had the opportunity to work with tools. Students are learning both how to use the equipment and how to teach others to use it. They also are exposed to new technologies used in agriculture. Agricultural Mechanics instruction gives our graduates the advantage when looking for teaching jobs. Instruction in welding, carpentry, small gas engines and electricity provide an avenue for high school students to pursue careers whether college or workforce bound.

Contact: Carlos Rosencrans,, Associate Professor

Helping Students Stay Current in a Changing World

Most graduate programs require students to take a Research Methods class. However, several graduate programs in ACES allow students to pursue a non-thesis option. For example, in 2016-17, only 20% of the students enrolled in AXED 556 chose the thesis option. While not all students will actually conduct research, all will need to remain current in their chosen professions. Through assignments focused on analyzing research from professional journals, students in AXED 556 not only learn research methodology but are prepared to critically think and analyze research conducted in their discipline. Ninety-five percent of students exceeded expectations on these related assignments.

Brenda Seevers,, Professor

Creating a comprehensive profile of FCS teachers and FCS extension agents in New Mexico

The lack of reliable data concerning FCS teachers, the programs, and the overall teacher shortage is not only a problem in New Mexico, but reflects a national trend. Lack of knowledge, including demographic information, job satisfaction, employment plans, and existing or perceived barriers and challengers to teaching FCS content, hampers advocacy efforts in conversations with policy makers during times of scare resources. This information could be used to provide federal dollars for NMSU students.

Contact: Sharon Bartley

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training

Training the next generation of land managers

NMSU students enrolled in Soil, Environmental, and Range Science will be New Mexico's future land managers and will decide how to allocate limited natural resources and manage competing interests. Understanding the soil resources that strongly control the success or failure of a land management decision (e.g., vegetation regeneration following a fire) is necessary for improved land management. In 2017, 16 students participated in experiential learning that instructed students in the concepts of soil mapping and classification they will require to understand and use soil resources for managing New Mexico's natural resources.

Contact: Colby Brungard

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training

Inspiring the love of plant and plant careers through experiential learning

The Introductory Plant Science course of 88 students reached students across NMSU colleges. The course exposed non-science majors to plant DNA extractions, climate change topics in agriculture, chile pepper grafting, and hoop house vegetable production experiments. From this course, a freshman journalism major rediscovered her love of plants and switched majors to horticulture. In addition to this course, Krystal Vargas, a previous biology student, is not only a new horticulture student, but has been accepted into the Master's Accelerated Program to continue her master's degree in horticulture under my advising.

Contact: Ivette Guzman

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training

Development of Plant Science Courses to Meet Modern Industry Needs

Highly interactive hands-on research elements have been incorporated into two courses: Gene 452 Applied Bioinformatics and Hort 310 Medicinal Herbs. In Gene 452 students work throughout the term conducting independent research on a gene of their choice using publicly available databases and analysis tools. In Hort 310 students extract and chemically characterize a medicinal plant of their choosing using research instrumentation available in the departmental Phytochemical Analysis laboratory. Former students in both classes report they use the skills learned in those courses in their future careers and programs of graduate study.

Contact: Mary O'Connell

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training

Soil Science Classes

Under my tutelage, 60 students learned how to solve basic agricultural and environmental calculations (including bulk density, moisture content, cation exchange capacity, and adsorption) in three soil science classes. I provided OSHA-mandated training for 6 NMSU students and 2 off-campus professionals in preparation for working in hazardous environments by certifying them in the 40-hour Technician level "Emergency Response to Hazardous Incidents" (HAZWOPER) training.

Service: Nearly 1,500 pounds of post-consumer food and paper towel waste generated by 100 West Caf" and the Skeen Hall per semester were converted to high quality, organic compost in 2017 through programs initiated and maintained by my graduate and ES club students thus reducing by over a ton the amount of waste going to landfills.

Contact: April Ulery, Professor

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training

Creating a comprehensive profile of FCS teachers and FCS extension agents in New Mexico

The lack of reliable data concerning FCS teachers, the programs, and the overall teacher shortage is not only a problem in New Mexico, but reflects a national trend. Lack of knowledge, including demographic information, job satisfaction, employment plans, and existing or perceived barriers and challengers to teaching FCS content, hampers advocacy efforts in conversations with policy makers during times of scare resources. This information could be used to provide federal dollars for NMSU students.

Contact: Sharon Bartley

Pillar: Foundational Education and Training