WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham announced two funding awards to the University of New Mexico (UNM), totaling $3.5 million, from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The awards will enable UNM to acquire a transmission electron microscope for state-of-the-art research, and will fund the creation of an online professional development program for high school science and mathematics teachers. Together, these initiatives aim to enhance science and computer education for students across New Mexico.
One award grants UNM $1.75 million for an open-access scanning transmission electron microscope, housed at UNM — the first of its kind in the Rio Grande corridor, benefitting researchers at other institutions in New Mexico and throughout the region. The microscope will enable students and faculty to study specimens at the nanometer level in high resolution, facilitating research into promising new areas, such as energy storage, fuel cells and nanoparticles.
Another $1.75 million award will fund an online professional development program to help high school science and mathematics teachers incorporate computational thinking into their curriculum. Teachers across the country will complete the online program, encouraging the use of computer-based models and simulations in the classroom. As a result, students will be better prepared to excel in growing STEM fields.
“This funding is critical to the University of New Mexico’s efforts to increase student participation in STEM-related studies and advance science in important new areas,” said Udall. “UNM’s investment in science and computer education enriches students’ learning in STEM courses, inspiring and motivating the next generation of New Mexicans to pursue careers in this booming sector – and preparing them to fill key roles in industry, and at our national labs and federal installations. By taking advantage of these resources, students and educators will ensure that New Mexico will be at the very forefront of technological breakthroughs and scientific advancement. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m determined to continue securing resources that support these kinds of vital education programs in our state.”
“New Mexico’s world-class scientific research is one of our state’s greatest assets,” said Heinrich. “As one of the few people in Congress with a background in engineering, I have long fought for greater investments in STEM education to put all of our students on the path to become the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. I’m proud to support these federal investments that will keep the University of New Mexico on the cutting edge of research and development for emerging energy technologies and also help UNM train the next generation of science instructors who will teach our children to embrace opportunities in the STEM fields.”
“New Mexico has the potential to lead the nation in STEM-related job growth, and this funding is a step in that direction,” said Lujan Grisham. “We must leverage every resource that’s available to invest in pioneering technologies that both spur discovery and innovation, and inspire and develop a diverse future generation of scientists and engineers. I applaud the fact that this funding will help bring this technology to UNM, while also providing STEM education and support to students and teachers across the state.”