MRN Moving into Neurosystems Engineering

One of the more interesting developments on campus this year is the growth and change at The Mind Research Network.

Technically MRN is an independent non-profit entity, located in Pete and Nancy Domenici Hall on the UNM north campus.  However, work at MRN is closely entwined with the university community; it hosts professors, many of whom hold dual appointments in UNM departments such as electrical and computer engineering, and is a laboratory in which 20 graduate students work with researchers.  There are also more than 100 undergraduate students currently volunteer at MRN; these students work with a principal investigator throughout the academic year.

Last spring MRN hosted the “Domenici Neuroscience Symposium on Neuroscience for National Security”  in Washington.  The purpose was to raise the profile of MRN in Washington D.C. and to let the public know that MRN is now doing research in neurosystems engineering in addition to its research into brain disorders.  MRN drew a number of speakers from industry and research entities and showcased MRN researchers in a variety of areas.

UNM worked with MRN to produce audio recordings of the conference.  Here’s a great chance to hear about everything from the latest research in Traumatic Brain Injury to new training techniques that may allow soldiers to quickly identify threats.  Just putting together the audio lectures was a fascinating experience.  It made me want to learn more about work at MRN.

Neuroscience for National Security

Normally this kind of research is done by individuals at various institutions.  MRN is trying to concentrate a group of researchers working in neurosystems engineering.

Financially, things are going well at MRN.  The non-profit corporation has over $75 million in active awards, about $10 million in pending grants, and several active applications for grants in progress.  Research collaboration with organizations like MRN is what makes UNM a more interesting place to be and lots of fun to write about.


Water Utility Authority Deseves Credit for Thinking Ahead

It could have been a PR nightmare, but the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority prevented that from happening.  The Water Utility Authority was planning to close part of University Blvd. southbound early this week for construction, but after checking with the University decided to delay the closure until after the 14-thousand fans expected to pack the pit for the TCU game on Wednesday night cleared the area.

That means southbound University between Hazeldine and Basehart Road will narrow to a single lane on Thursday.  The construction is only supposed to last for one day.

Thanks to the Water Utility Authority for thinking ahead, and not trapping Lobo fans in a supersize traffic snarl.

Virtualizing a Supercomputer

Patrick Bridges, associate professor in the UNM Computer Sciences Department has completed an interesting experiment in collaboration with Peter Dinda, professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Northwestern University and his graduate student Jack Lange.  Their experiment was conducted on the Sandia National Labs supercomputer “Red Storm” and they are finding a way to make it easier for researchers to work with supercomputers.

Here’s a link to the UNM story.

UNM Anthropologist on National Geographic Channel

E. James Dixon Anthropology Professor and Director of the  Maxwell   Museum, Dr. James Dixon, is conducting exciting research exploring glaciers in Alaska to discover ancient frozen artifacts.  Some of his research was filmed last summer in Alaska and at the Maxwell for a segment of National Geographic Television’s “Naked Science: Surviving Ancient Alaska”.  The show will premier on national television on January 28, 2010, at 10 PM eastern standard time.  For an advanced video preview and photos go to:

Office of the State Historian Offers Fellowships

If you are doing research in the area of New Mexico History, here’s a great chance for financial assistance.  The Office of the State Historian has fellowship grants for students doing research in any field or discipline that will foster and understanding and appreciation of New Mexico history, and who has academic or work qualifications.  For details…

Antonio’s Gun & Delfino’s Dream

The Provost’s Office is trying something new with freshmen this year.  They’ve asked the three thousand plus freshmen to read the book “Antonio’s Gun & Delfino’s Dream.”  It’s a nonfiction book written by former L.A. Times reporter Sam Quinones about modern day Mexico.

Quinones writes about things that hover on the edge of your consciousness, but that you might not have taken the time to think about.  Remember the velvet paintings that you used to see at every flea market and the vans parked at roadsides throughout the state selling those painting?  I never thought about who was doing the painting or that it was a lucrative job for hundreds of Mexicans who moved to Juarez, Mexico to find a better life.

This book takes you to places you haven’t been before.

On September 15th at 7 p.m. in the Continuing Education building Quinones will talk about his experiences in Mexico and sign books.  He will also be at the UNM bookstore in Wednesday, September 16 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a short talk and book signing.

Assigning the book to freshmen was the idea of Provost Suzanne Ortega.  She wanted to talk about immigration in a way that focused on the people and not the politics.

Preparing for Problems

UNM will participate in a citywide disaster drill on August 10.  The university is preparing for a serious flu season and is paying particular attention to the H1N1 virus.

Central campus planning is underway now to prepare for handling a major flu outbreak on campus. The university has already order 55-thousand flu shots and the administration will encourage everyone on campus to be vaccinated.