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WNMU students and professors are investigating things they're curious about and making discoveries we care about.
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While Western New Mexico University is not a research institution, its students and faculty do study emerging topics within their fields and look into understanding local issues. Whether natural sciences students are curious about finding the prime fishing holes or whether aspiring occupational therapists are dreaming up new tools to help patients, WNMU supports them in producing scientifically solid research of interest to people outside of academia. This e-newsletter includes just a fraction of the studies taking place here.

What’s inside:
Academic Symposium Sneak Peak
Students in the New Mexico Alliance for Minority Participation’s Undergraduate Research Scholar program are required to present at the academic symposium. Jamie Crockett LM, CPM, was one of the five participants this semester. She studied prenatal care and delivery experience and postpartum depression, and she presented her findings during a poster session at the Western Psychological Association Convention in Portland, Oregon, this past weekend.
Several Western New Mexico University students, including three who study at WNMU’s Deming location, presented at the Western Psychological Association Convention in Portland, Oregon, as did two WNMU faculty. The students’ travel was funded by WNMU’s Student Research and Professional Development fund. 

Pictured (from left to right) are Diego, Nathan, Yami, Dr. Mark Chu, Jamie, Anna, Elva and Dr. Wen-chi Chen.
heads up, birders!
[ where Great Horned Owls are likely to be found in Grant County
 ]
The ideal location to find Great Horned Owls is in an area south of Silver City near the southern border with Luna County, according to Angelica Polanco, who studied Great Horned Owl habitats. Find out why owls like this area at Angelica's presentation on May 1 in Miller Library.
Photo by Peter K Burian [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons.
[ Adaptive Equipment Developed by WNMU Students ]
 
Maryssa Bouvet, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant student, designed a self-pour coffeemaker for individuals with disabilities that prohibit them from lifting and carrying everyday items, such as those used at breakfast time.
 
Using fabric, buttons, lace, zippers, wool, fur, suede, beads, coins and leather, WNMU student Nancy Chang made a fidget quilt or sensory blanket for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, blindness, autism and sensory issues. Fidget quilts lend users joy and comfort while decreasing anxiety and depression.
Analyzing Stormwater Runoff Downtown
“Downtown Silver City has longstanding problems with stormwater runoff, especially during seasonal monsoon storms, and stormwater is a leading cause of surface water pollution that may eventually impact groundwater quality,” says chemistry major and geology minor Raven Jackson (pictured above). “One of the first things I noticed about Silver City was the curb height downtown. I thought it was strange until I realized how much water flowed through the area during rainstorms.”

With her project, Raven set out to: 
  • determine the degree of surface runoff during high-intensity storms
  • measure how stormwater impacts local surface water and soil quality.
In the lab and in the field:
  • digital modeling using aerial imagery
  • infiltration tests and soil data analysis 
  • surveying cross sections of streets with high runoff
Upcoming summer fieldwork and fall research wrap-up:
  • collecting and analyzing soil and water samples
  • measuring the depth of water on the streets
  • writing the final paper.
Downtown’s steep slopes direct summer monsoon floodwaters into the Big Ditch (San Vicente Creek). This flow model is based on the terrain slope and direction (aspect) calculated from a surface elevation model that Raven created from a drone flight over her study area last month.
Game Unit 16
=
best area to hunt for Mule deer


Anthony Chavez’ project considered the most optimal places in the Gila National Forest to hunt for Mule deer based on water tanks throughout the forest, their favorable diets, huntable areas within the game units and the 2017 Mule deer harvest report for each unit. 
“Based on the length of the trail and the slope, the Middle Fork, Gila River, West Fork and Mineral Creek trails are the ‘best.’”
— Jordan Torres, who researched the “best” hiking trails within 150 miles of Silver City, considering length of the trail, difficulty of terrain, scenery and trail distance from town
One is most likely to catch Dipodomys (kangaroo rats)...
on a south-southeast-facing slope.
 
“Kangaroo rats’ mounds can have more than a dozen holes and be over one meter wide and up to 130 centimeters tall. Scientists attempting to collect data in the field face the issue of where to set traps to catch study specimens,” says GIS and ecology student Paul Montoya, who notes that the average slope where kangaroo rats were caught was 2.5 degrees. “Rats were not caught on slopes that were greater than seven degrees.”
Decolonizing Ourselves as Educators
“Historically, the focus of teacher education programs has been on preparing teachers who can demonstrate knowledge of methodologies, techniques and content but has neglected a more critical examination of teacher candidates’ beliefs and attitudes toward the social-political context of education.” —  Dr. Neves
Dr. Alexandra Neves, Associate Professor in the School of Education and WNMU’s Bilingual Education Advisor, will present “Decolonizing Ourselves as Educators” at The X International Meeting of The Presence of Paulo Freireconference in Cienfuegos, Cuba, this week. 

The presentation is based on an article she co-authored with Dr. Felipe Ortego, who is WNMU’s Scholar-in-Residence. They examined methods the conference’s namesake, Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, who led education reform and developed a popular education philosophy, which he applied at institutions such as Harvard University. 

"In this article, Dr. Ortego and I discuss what is at the core of Paulo Freire’s philosophy: the concept of anti-colonial education and the idea that teaching is not a politically or ideologically neutral endeavor," Dr. Neves says.
How Seniors in the U.S. and Mexico Differ in Physical Health
Rosa Maria Cruz Castruita, Ph.D., a post-doctoral researcher from Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (Monterrey, Mexico), wrapped up the first of three short residencies at Western New Mexico University last week. She and Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Dr. Takahiro Sato (both pictured here) research similar topics so are collaborating on articles. This month, they wrote an article about the effect of physical activity on the physical condition and psychologic condition of adults, specifically seniors.​ Learn more here.
"People here are skinnier and healthier. They have good physical condition. In Mexico, the older people sometimes have bad health. They have a lot of diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.”
— Rosa Maria Cruz Castruita, Ph.D.
Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D., from Wikimedia
Commons.
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