The first-time event was coordinated by the New Mexico Council of Graduate Deans, and they intend for Graduate Education Day to become an annual event during the legislative session.

Five UNM graduate students representing diverse fields displayed research projects. The Graduate and Professional Students Association representatives were present to further advocate for UNM’s many graduate programs.

UNM produces 80 percent of the doctorate degrees and more than half of the graduate degrees in the state, said Julie Coonrod, dean of graduate studies at UNM. This means that opportunities to illustrate the importance of graduate school are a big deal for UNM.

“I think this was a great opportunity for UNM graduate students to come out and showcase the work they’re doing for their studies,” said Texanna Martin, president of UNM’s Graduate and Professional Student Association. “It really helps show that we want to continue being the number-one Ph.D. source in New Mexico.”

There is great need, both statewide and nationwide, for more people to obtain higher education degrees. Last year 499 positions requiring advanced education degrees went unfilled in New Mexico and 122,000 of these positions were unfilled nationwide, according to the President of Eastern University, Dr. Steven Gamble.

“Unless we become more attentive to this part of our education, New Mexico is going to have a very difficult time moving ahead to the next level of competition in the country, much less around the globe,” Gamble said. “One way to try to make people aware of this is having these kinds of forums, trying to get editorials and trying to testify to important committees.”

UNM’s graduate school is a major pipeline to companies around the state that require advanced degrees. For example, more employees of Los Alamos National Laboratories hold Ph.D.s from UNM than from any other university in the country, said Nancy Ambrosiano, LANL’s public relations officer.

The UNM graduate students present at the event displayed work in subjects ranging from nanoscience to architecture. Amber McBride, a postdoctoral fellow, has developed an inhalable chemotherapeutic drug delivery system for lung cancer patients that could increase survival rates and reduce the side effects experienced with current chemotherapies. This form of drug delivery is magnetically responsive and has shown capabilities of targeting specific areas of the lung.

Jacqueline Kocer, Ph.D. in Archaeology, has been studying the Gallina people, who lived about 50 miles northeast of Chaco Canyon from 1050-1300 A.D. She has examined the production of these people’s pots and tools and worked to understand if any interaction occurred between them and the people of Chaco Canyon. Her work will culminate in a better understanding of the nature of this ancient community.

Michelle Miller, a graduate student in civil engineering, said she is developing a distillation method that could return municipal waste water to drinkable water quality so it could be reused by the community rather than being sent to the river.

Theodore Edaakie, a graduate student of architecture, said he designed a Zuni Art Center that could give the Zuni Pueblo ideas about how to create a more beneficial platform for their art marketplace. In order to design a culturally relevant center, he interviewed local artists on their perspectives regarding the proposed center.

Adrienne Borders, Ph.D. in clinical psychology, is investigating how client language could be related to behavioral change in Alcohol Behavioral Couple Therapy. She said she hopes her research will help further develop more targeted treatment techniques for substance use disorders.

Graduate education and research are entirely interconnected as graduate students generate knowledge rather than just translating it, said Mike Dougher, UNM vice provost for research. Few other activities have such a positive effect on the community or the state. For every one dollar spent on research, the state of New Mexico generates seven dollars, Dougher stated.

“People with more education usually have a more meaningful life and a greater sense of accomplishment that they have done something special. There’s a greater sense of satisfaction that you’re living a life you really enjoy,” Gamble said. “I hope for those reasons and many more we continue supporting advanced education.”

Marielle Dent is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at or on Twitter @Marielle_Dent.