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Center for Water and the Environment participates in STEM Research Challenge

May 3, 2021 - by Kim Delker

Four members of The University of New Mexico’s Center for Water and the Environment (CWE) volunteered to be category judges for the 2021 Central New Mexico STEM Research Challenge on March 22-27.

Research assistants Natalie Gayoso, Curtis Hunt and Noelani Villa were judges, as was Ryan Webb, research assistant professor.

The CWE judges participated in the senior (grades 9-12) division engineering, chemistry, and Earth and environmental sciences categories.

The STEM Research Challenge relies on volunteers to score student projects and serve as role models to young scientists.

CWE also offered a special award to a high school student who, through their project and interview, showed excellence and interest in water science, water resources, or water engineering.

Eliana Juarez of V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho received this year’s Center for Water and the Environment Excellence Award. Her winning STEM Research Challenge project was titled "Using Machine Learning to Combat Air Pollution by Forecasting Tropospheric Ozone Levels.”

Juarez will be offered a summer internship position working alongside faulty in the CWE research labs. She will work with Anjali Mulchandani's research group on a project related to atmospheric water harvesting. She will be setting up outdoor atmospheric water harvesting units and building a sensor platform to enable real-time monitoring of water production and water quality. She will also periodically measure water quality of collected water in the laboratory to validate sensor data.

“Offering our volunteer judging services and a summer internship have been exceptional ways to increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in STEM professions, which is part of our mission statement,” said Sydney Donohue, outreach coordinator for CWE.