Previous Graduate Student’s of the Month

August 2018: Emily Creegan

Emily Creegan is a graduate student in the Plant and Environmental Sciences department. She is an outstanding student and has been always open and helpful in representing graduate students around campus. She continues to excel in her research and is currently working on community organic waste utilization and compost program development research for a USDA grant, and recently represented NMSU internationally as she presented her research on biomass utilization for food production and environmental sustainability at the Women’s Economic Forum conference in New Delhi, India.



April 2018: Surya Banerjee

Surya Jyoti Banerjee is a doctoral candidate, teaching assistant for “Principles of Genetics” lecture, lab manager, guest lecturer and president of graduate student organization in the Department of Biology at NMSU. Surya received the Teaching Excellence Award 2018 in March for his contribution in teaching in the department. He received the Merit Based Enhancement Award 2018 from the Graduate School, NMSU. Surya presented his research work poster at Medical Center at the Americas Foundation which got a spot for oral presentation being the one among finalists. Surya received the best poster award in the NeSA 10th International Conference held in March 2018. He participated in the “Roundtable Session” at the Multicultural Research Symposium in April 2018 at NMSU where his proposal was among the best. Surya has also received Alumni Scholarship, the Travis and Wendy Traylor Memorial Fellowship and Outstanding Graduate Assistantship from NMSU.

Surya’s research work focuses on eye development and metabolism related disorders using Drosophila (fruit fly) as the model organism. He is probably the only research student in NMSU to successfully use CRISPR-Cas9 method to tag a gene of interest in the genome related to Drosophila eye development with GFP. His study identified interaction between proteins which was previously not described in the context of eye development. He is also working with a novel gene called abams in Drosophila which controls fat and glycogen storage in flies and his findings can contribute to the understanding of metabolism related diseases. He has given several oral and poster presentations on his works.

Surya has been a teaching assistant for Biol. 211 (Cellular & Organismal Biology) and Biol. 111 (Natural History of Life) labs, and Biol. 305 (Principles of Genetics) and Biol. 377 (Cell Biology) lecture courses. He guest-lectured for Biol. 211, Biol. 377, Biol. 101 and Biol. 305 courses. He received excellent student evaluations. His teaching mentors considered him as “a teaching colleague” and “as a motivator who always (ALWAYS) has the students’ learning as the highest priority”. He carried out two projects as a content presenter and grade-level facilitator for SC2 Summer Institute 2017, Problem and Project Based Learning in STEM Classroom for school teachers’ professional development at NMSU.

He has volunteered in multiple academic workshops and symposiums which includes Education Beyond Borders: Tearing down Walls; judging in the annual bio-symposium; and judging in the Desert Data Jam organized by Asombro Institute for Science Education. He has also volunteered in several community services like NMSU Big Event and Keep State Great.

Surya is very grateful to his research advisor Dr. Jennifer Curtiss and his teaching advisor Dr. Amy Marion for being his true mentors, providing all possible support and opportunities for his professional development. He is very thankful to his family for their constant support and encouragement.


February 2018: Nouf Alsuwaida

Nouf Alsuwaida is a doctoral outstanding candidate at New Mexico State University in the College of Education’s Curriculum & Instruction program. Her doctoral studies focus on Educational Learning Technologies in the field of Fashion Design. Nouf’s teaching experience includes fashion design, traditional fashion architecture, and the history of fashion designs at the General Organization for Technical and Vocational Training, Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University, and the University of Hail in Saudi Arabia. Her research interests are in women’s education issues, women’s traditional clothing, teaching and learning in Fashion Design, and technology theories in pedagogy.

Nouf Alsuwaida started her doctoral journey in 2014.  She is the first of her group to complete her coursework, conduct her research, and successfully defend her Ph.D. dissertation. On February 2, 2018, Alsuwaida defends her dissertation title which is “ Disruptive Innovation in the Fashion Design Classroom with Learning Technology and Social Media.”  Nouf is a dedicated student and a conscientious researcher.  Her accomplishments are even more impressive because of the additional challenges she faced as an international student, adapting to a new culture and language.

Using her knowledge and skills to combine her expertise in Fashion with Learning Design and Technology, Alsuwaida published two articles which are “Women’s education in Saudi Arabia” and Innovation in fashion design and its impact on traditional costumes Saudi Arabia. Nouf has presented numerous papers at a variety of conferences and written/co-authored several journal articles while working on her doctorate.  Her diverse topics range from her experiences as a female educator in Saudi Arabia to culturally responsive instructional design and teaching to assessing technology integration in an Art and Design course. She was an excellent ambassador for NMSU when she parented at conferences. She has presented numerous papers in different conferences and published two articles and four under review.

Nouf has also exhibited her excellent leadership abilities as the Chapter VP for The Society for Collegiate & Achievement (SCLA).  She has also contributed her time and efforts as a member of the College of Education’s Critical Multicultural Education (CME) Graduate Student Organization, participating in multiple events and service-oriented projects over the past four years. She also has professional membership in the different organization in the United such as (OLC), (ATE), (AACE), and (ITAA).

In addition to her academic and leadership contributions, Nouf is a very positive, energetic, and enthusiastic graduate student.  She is always willing to assist other students, provide her creative talents and energy to help out at College of Education or NMSU events, and volunteer to give a presentation at a local academic conference.

Congratulations Nouf! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

January 2018: Suparna Chatterjee

Suparna is a doctoral student in the department of curriculum and instruction and she represented NMSU with her recommendations for online teaching and learning from the international student’s perspective at the Online Learning Consortium 2017. This presentation was published in the EdSurge News. She is also a Presenter 2017 (Content & Grade level) for In-service Professional Development in SC2 Summer Workshop, STEM Outreach at NMSU.

She has co-authored and edited a class book, contributed to the epigraph source of another book, participated in a project of Dr. Christine Sleeter for gathering of data about illustrations that represent Hispanic Students in the array of textbooks in New Mexico school districts.

Suparna has received the College of Education Alumni Scholarship, NMSU for the 2017-2018 academic year, Core Values Award of Excellence for Academic achievement and distinction in Education (2016), and Honors Graduate recognition from the New Mexico State University Graduate School (2016).

In the area of service over the past year, Suparna has been valuable in providing support for collapsing data and editing a strategic plan for the New Mexico Geographic Alliance and gathering data for a project about the impact of participation in online programs on faculty tenure and promotion. In other areas her contributions are Literacy Volunteer for Adult Basic Education at Quintana Learning Center, Volunteer for GED Advanced Science workshop at the Doña Ana Community College (DACC), Volunteer for ICT-Annual Technology Day, and STEM Summer Programs for kids. She also serves as the Secretary of Critical Multicultural Educators Graduate Student Organization.

Suparna’s participation in discussions and her growing awareness of educational issues, specifically as related to learning technology were reflected in her work and represented her ability to practice leadership in education. She enhances a learning environment through her academic work and ability to collaborate with others. She brings diversity to the department through her critical and conscious thinking ability, academic merit, skills and experience.

Congratulations Suparna! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

October/November 2017: Mark P. Manning

Mark P. Manning is a second-year structural engineering doctoral student in the Department of Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU).
His primary research has focused on Prestressed Bridge and Girder Testing and Analysis. Results of the investigation led to development of final girder designs for use in the first Ultra High Performance Concrete bridge in New Mexico. Completed in Spring 2017, the bridge marks the first use of non-proprietary UHPC mixture proportions in the United States.
Mark is a recipient of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Fellowship, the D.D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship, and the New Mexico Higher Education Department Fellowship.
His paper titled, “Behavior Comparison of Prestressed Channel Girders from High-Performance and Ultrahigh-Performance Concrete” was selected by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to receive its 2016 Best Paper Award.Most recently, the project was awarded the Excellence in Concrete award by the American Concrete Institute, New Mexico Section.
Congratulations Mark! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

September 2017: Ana C. Lopez

Ana C. Lopez was nominated and selected based on the merit that she currently holds a 4.0 GPA has recently participated as a student panelist for the Domenici Public Policy Conference and due to the work within this capacity was named a Domenici Scholar. She has 3 manuscripts submitted or in progress, where she is the first author to 2 of them, and all are submitted to peer reviewed journals within her specific discipline in Multicultural Special Education. She has 6 peer reviewed posters (at the national, state and local levels) where she is first author of all 6. Ms. Lopez has received awards for Core Value Student Award from the College of Education, The Academic Excellence Award from the Department of Special Education, and Outstanding Graduate Student. In the area of service, Ana’s contributions are Guest speaker in undergraduate course, student representative in departmental search for department head, Volunteer for GRAS, Volunteer for Aggie Experience, and Student Learning Experience in Las Cruces community.

Ana’s experience as a graduate student to date is vast. On a personal note from her mentor, “she is hardworking, committed, kind, and compassionate to her field of study. She is an excellent example of what a graduate student should be here at a research university like NMSU.”

Congratulations Ana! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.


August 2017: Nina Dropcho

Nina Dropcho is a graduate student in the Biology Department at NMSU. She finished her Master of Science (M.S.) degree in May 2017. After receiving her M.S., she taught the Human Anatomy Lab, BIO 353 where she advanced the course with new teaching tools and lab techniques, despite the condensed, fast-paced nature of summer school. She has expanded further on her molecular biology laboratory skills through her time in Dr Yukl’s lab in the Biochemistry Department. She has traveled to Mexico where she gave her first presentation at an international scientific conference. During this time, she received her Advanced SCUBA Diving Certification. She also attended the Annual Gathering of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC). During the conference, Nina presented a Poster about her Master’s research at NMSU. She also participated in a Mentoring Circle program for graduate students, with which she is still involved. She has recently transitioned from being a Master’s student to a PhD student and is excited for new experiences.
Congratulations Nina! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.


April 2017: Maria Elena Salazar

Maria Elena is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education. She has spent her academic and professional career working with marginalized populations, including teaching Bilingual Education, Title 1, Special Education preschool, High School Equivalency Program, and Adult Basic Education Language Arts coursework. Her research involves educational issues of rural low Socioeconomic, Latinos, and she utilizes literacy instruction as a means to improve academic experiences and attainment.

Maria Elena has also volunteered as a literacy tutor and on a public library board. After graduation in May, she wants to return to full time work with “at promise” groups, such as students of low SES backgrounds and Native Americans and Latinos of Northern New Mexico.

Congratulations Maria! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.


March 2017: Johanna Esquivel

Johanna Esquivel is a third year PhD student in the curriculum and instruction department. In her time as a doctoral student, Johanna has kept herself on track in the doctoral program and represented NMSU positively in a variety of ways. She has authored and co-authored several academic articles and book chapters, taught several classes including ‘Sheltered English Instruction for the ESL Classroom’ and ‘Second Language Acquisition’, and presented her research on peace, identity, bilingual education, critical discourse analysis, critical media literacy, and second language acquisition at international and national conferences. Last summer, she participated in a Spanish-English cognate vocabulary project where she taught intervention lessons to second and third graders, helped analyze data, and wrote up the project. Johanna continues to distinguish herself and make NMSU proud as she progresses through the doctoral program in Language, Literacy, and Culture within Curriculum and Instruction. She is becoming a true scholar that the faculty in Language, Literacy, and Culture are proud of.

Congratulations Johanna! If you know a graduate student you think should be recognized for their work (yourself included) please nominate them by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.