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NMSU Team Leads Efforts To Make Nanoscience Part of Undergraduate Courses

Associated Press
    LAS CRUCES — New Mexico State University is leading efforts to develop a statewide network of faculty at research universities and community colleges that will make nanoscience part of biology and physics courses for undergraduates.
    NMSU has received a $174,777 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the effort.
    A team of three NMSU biology and physics professors at the university's main campus in Las Cruces and a biology professor at the school's Alamogordo branch are spearheading the project, dubbed the New Mexico Nanoscience Education Initiative.
    "This is to prepare our students for the 21st century,'' said team member and physics professor Boris Kiefer. "Breaking down boundaries between traditionally different scientific units — in this particular case, biology and physics — will help them to become more competitive in high-tech jobs.''
    Nanoscience — the study of the tiniest bits of matter — is not included in many undergraduate textbooks, said Elba Serrano, NMSU biology professor and head investigator for the project.
    The team plans to look at nanoscience education within three themes — health, water and energy, and hopefully spark students' interests in the sciences, Serrano said.
    NMSU will collaborate with faculty at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Northern New Mexico College, Dine College and the University of New Mexico on workshops. The first will be held in July.
    "The strategies will arise as we meet and talk,'' Serrano said.
    Course material developed by the statewide network will be available online to faculty at other institutions.
    "The structure of institutions makes it difficult for faculty to collaborate across departments and colleges,'' Serrano said. "So this is a project that was spawned out of shared intellectual interests and a desire to transform the academic experiences of faculty and students.''

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