Wildlife Sciences Faculty Creates Hub of Research and Education for Students in New Mexico and Puerto Rico
Martha Desmond, professor of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology was recently awarded Professional of the Year award by the New Mexico chapter of the Wildlife Society for her leadership and development of the Natural Resource Career Track Program. Funded by a $3,315,000 USDA NIFA award, the project prepares underrepresented students for career paths with the USDA Forest Service. The program enables collaboration between 14 Hispanic-Serving Institutions and hosts more than 100 student participants from New Mexico and Puerto Rico. It provides students with opportunities to engage in internships, research mentorships, graduate training, field courses, workshops as well as exchanges between New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Over the three years, students have participated in 180 summer internships and 97 semester lab mentorships. In addition, more than 75 students have attended professional meetings nationally. An ornithologist and a conservation ecologist, Martha Desmond also leads a project funded by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish studying the distribution and habitat requirements of Bendire’s Thrasher, a secretive, cryptic species of birds found in the deserts of New Mexico which are undergoing strong population declines. She is also funded by the New Mexico State Land Office to study the impact of solar energy development on the breeding grassland birds and insects of southcentral New Mexico.