Meet The Staff

An Interview with Lydia Hammond, Program Coordinator

By Dr. Lauren Goldstein, Technical Writer

Are you originally from Las Cruces?

I am. I was raised in Las Cruces and I did my undergraduate and graduate degrees here. I’m actually finishing my master’s degree with a thesis option. Both degrees are in government.

What’s the topic of your master’s thesis?

My thesis topic looks at students who are civically engaged in the university setting and examines if that level of engagement transfers to off-campus settings. I’ll evaluate to what extent the university setting is helping to create civically engaged individuals in the larger community. I’ve also done work with emphasis on elections—a conference paper that I researched and presented with a colleague. My topic for that was, “what effect do newspaper endorsements have on election results of down-ballot candidates?”

Wow, that’s a focused research question! Impressive!

Yeah, well it took me years to whittle the topic down to that question! I created my own emphasis in my program with a focus on elections. Our department is more theory-based, and I am interested in practical applications of concepts.

Can you explain down-ballot candidates?

Sure. They are the positions that voters don’t usually think about or don’t generally perceive as having a big impact, but they do. It’s positions such as county commissioners—the public doesn’t always realize those officials are the ones who administer local government, who make policy. The fact is those down-ballot candidates have a huge impact on the daily lives of constituents. So, I was researching what effect, if any, newspaper endorsements had on those specific elections.

So, you obviously have an interest in city and local government. Can you talk a little about that?

Yes, I worked on Senator Udall’s campaign in 2014, and I interned for him in 2010 in Washington, D.C. I was also recently a campaign manager for Manny Castro for his school board campaign in coordination with the NEA (National Education Association). I’ve also worked in town with Las Cruces City Councilor Nathan Small during the recall petition attempt in 2015.

I first met you while you were working at SWEC (Southwest Environmental Center). How did you become involved with SWEC?

I was hired to the the legislative assistant for them in 2015 Legislative cycle. After it ended, their full time membership coordinator left and I was hired on as membership coordinator.

What’s your favorite thing about your job at Arrowhead Center?

I love that it’s challenging because it’s completely out of my wheelhouse, but it’s been fun. The term “entrepreneurship” used to seem kind of intimidating, but I’ve learned so much about how it works through our various programs. The concept of entrepreneurship much more approachable now.

You work with Marie Borchert on Innoventure programming at Arrowhead Center. I know you’ve been really busy planning the summer camps! What is your favorite thing about working with Innoventure?

It is energizing. It’s been a valuable experience to work on expanding the camp around the state of New Mexico. I have been able to meet community members, teachers, and other contacts and build new connections. Though I wasn’t directly involved in planning the Innoventure middle school and high school competition, it was great to see it in action this year. I like that the programs I work with—Innoventure Jr. and Camp Innoventure—are really unique. The more I learn about it, the more I love it. I would have loved to have access to programs like these as a kid!

Mexican students team with NMSU’s Arrowhead Center to increase economic development

Date: 04/06/2016

Writer: Lauren Goldstein, 575-646-5069,

This week, students from the groundbreaking program Atrévete a Emprender, or “Dare to Be an Entrepreneur,” will team with New Mexico State University’s Arrowhead Center for a weeklong residency. The program, which spans two countries and aims to increase regional economic collaboration and diversify industry, began last March and will continue for the next 12 weeks.

Griselda Martinez and Jorge Ramos of Arrowhead Center developed and implemented the program in partnership with officials from Mexico City’s local government as a public call to students, faculty and researchers from five public universities in Mexico to take part in innovative entrepreneurial development. Their invitation, titled “200 Words Can Change Your Life,” was a call for teams of two to four people to submit a business idea in a 200-word proposal to Atrévete a Emprender. The public call for participation was a new approach to attracting potential entrepreneurs from Mexico. For the teams who have moved through the program, the experience has been life changing.

“If you follow the process from the start to where we are now the self-motivation, exponential growth and creativity of these entrepreneurs and teams is amazing to see,” said Griselda Martinez, co-director of Atrévete a Emprender.

Martinez and Ramos expected around 200 proposals, but said they were floored when initial submissions from teams totaled close to 400. From these initial applications, they selected 50 teams to participate in a business model canvas workshop, held in Mexico City. The next stage included a video submission and live presentation, after which Ramos and Martinez selected 25 teams and worked with them on a business model and in-depth market research.

In a highly selective and competitive process, 10 teams were then selected to work with Arrowhead Center for a 12-week incubation period to explore U.S. and global markets. This week, these 10 teams arrive for a one-week residency at Arrowhead to conduct interviews with potential buyers, meet with Arrowhead’s investor-in-residence, and take workshops on customer discovery. The teams’ final live presentations on Thursday will be attended by venture capitalists who will visit as potential investors, partners, and mentors.

“By launching this program, Arrowhead is looking to recruit entrepreneurs into New Mexico and increase international deal flow of technologies. This creates the possibility for business creation in the state and beyond, while strengthening economic ties within Borderplex region,” Ramos said.

Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center, sees this as a unique opportunity for growth.

“We are excited, it’s a great potential for developing relationships with these companies and students to help them succeed,” Hansen said.

For more information on Atrévete a Emprender and other programs and events at Arrowhead Center, visit

Innovate NM will showcase tech from around the state

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Cutting-edge innovation from across New Mexico will be on display at the first Innovate New Mexico Technology Showcase Tuesday at the Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

The all-day event, which is free and open to the public, will include presentations by scientists and innovators from the state’s three research universities and the national laboratories about new technologies that those institutions are working to commercialize. Technology transfer professionals from all the organizations will also participate in a panel discussion about joint efforts to make New Mexico known nationally and beyond as the go-to “State of Innovation.”

The event marks the inauguration of Innovate New Mexico, which the institutions began organizing last fall to build on the momentum created by Innovate ABQ and the emerging Innovation District in Downtown Albuquerque, said Lisa Kuuttila, the University of New Mexico’s chief economic development officer and head of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office.

“We have such rich science and technology assets in New Mexico and presenting them in a united way offers a much stronger tool to attract investors and entrepreneurs,” Kuuttila said. “This way, corporate representatives and investors can come for one day to New Mexico to meet with all the principal institutional representatives. That’s a much more valuable, efficient use of their time than spending two weeks here.”

Innovate New Mexico, which will be located at Innovate ABQ when it opens Downtown, will launch a new website during the showcase, offering visitors information about new technologies and licensing opportunities at all the participating institutions, with cross links to related innovations and access to scientists, innovators and tech-transfer professionals statewide.

The site will categorize state technologies by industry sector, offering a one-stop-shop to view groups of inventions from all the major research entities in things like water, energy or biotechnology, said Terry Lombard, director of property and technology transfer at New Mexico State University.

“If someone is looking to create a business, they can come see technologies available for licensing at NMSU while also connecting to all the others,” Lombard said.

A startup pitch competition for students from UNM, NMSU and the New Mexico Institute for Mining and Technology will take place Monday night. Participants will compete for at least $7,500 in cash prizes at the event, which runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. at 602 McKnight Ave. NW.

The state Economic Development Department and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are sponsoring the showcase event, which runs from 8 to 4 p.m. For more information,

Organic pesticide being tested

By Kevin Robinson-Avila / Journal Staff Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A new organic pesticide developed at New Mexico State University is being tested this spring in California’s Salinas Valley, where some of the world’s biggest organic commercial growers are based.

If the tests show the product, called NMX, is successful in killing fungal and bacterial infections, it could find a ready market in California and beyond, particularly among growers of leafy vegetables, which today have very few natural pesticides to protect their crops, said Luke Smith, an NMSU graduate and head of EcoSeal, the new company working to market NMX.

“There are very few effective organic fungicides, especially for leafy produce like lettuce and spinach,” Smith said. “That’s a big problem in the Salinas Valley, where leafy vegetables account for about 50 percent of all crops. Growers there are losing up to 70 percent of their produce because they have no effective fungicides.”

NMX may also prove effective as a repellent against some insects.

NMSU Microbiologist Geoffrey Smith developed NMX with a team of three researchers, who found that a mixture of essential oils from common desert plants can help defend against fungus, bacteria, nematodes and some insects, such as thrips. Individual components in the essential oils have been used before as pesticides, but the NMSU team found that keeping all the elements together in the essential oils had a synergistic effect that is much more powerful.

The product has been tested in laboratory, greenhouse and field trials in the U.S. and Mexico on a variety of plants, including tomatoes, chile, bell peppers onions and turfgrass.

“We expected the pure chemical in essential oil would water down its effect, but we found that the natural oil was more potent than using refined active ingredients,” Geoffrey Smith said. “Tests showed it had a synergistic effect in potency as an all-natural product.”

The plants and components used in NMX, which has a provisional patent, are proprietary. EcoSeal, which Luke Smith formed in 2015, is now seeking Environmental Protection Agency approval for NMX as a commercial organic pesticide.

EcoSeal has gotten a big boost from NMSU’s Arrowhead Center Inc., which manages all of the university’s technology transfer and entrepreneurship programs.

Arrowhead initially provided $15,000 for EcoSeal through its Launch Proof of Concept program, which helps move new NMSU technologies to market. In addition, NMSU provided $35,000 in technical aid through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program – a state initiative that offers financing for entrepreneurs to access technical resources at NMSU, the University of New Mexico and the state’s two national laboratories.

Arrowhead also helped EcoSeal obtain a $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps program, set up in 2011 to help move new discoveries generated by NSF research grants from lab to market.

And, in March, EcoSeal won another $50,000 grant from the New Mexico Technology Research Collaborative, a state-backed organization that unites New Mexico’s research institutions in a joint effort to accelerate commercialization of homegrown technologies.

The TRC received $400,000 from the state Legislature last year, $300,000 of which was earmarked by the Economic Development Department for targeted commercialization projects. EcoSeal was one of six companies to receive funding in February, said Patricia Knighten, former director of EDD’s Office of Science and Technology.

“EcoSeal was one of 18 project proposals, but it rose to the top,” Knighten said. “They’ve been partnering with big agricultural operators in California and they’re in a sweet spot for rapid growth in the high-value, organic crop market.”

The TRC grant is helping pay for field testing this spring in the Salinas Valley and at NMSU.

“We set up fungal testing with an agricultural research firm in California to provide an independent study for the EPA approval process,” Luke Smith said. “We’re also doing more field tests here with NMSU entomologists to look at effectiveness against insects and bacteria, in addition to fungus. The tests began in March and we expect results back by June.”

To start, EcoSeal is prioritizing NMX as a fungicide. That’s because previous testing in Las Cruces and Mexico showed that, as an insecticide, NMX performed about equivalent to other organic pesticides currently on the market. But, as a fungicide, it demonstrated impressive results.

“The tests showed very, very strong efficacy against fungus, rivaling synthetic pesticides,” Smith said.

In addition, interviews with agricultural producers, chemical company representatives and pest control consultants throughout California and other western states indicated little enthusiasm for NMX as an insecticide. But growers showed strong interest in its potential as a fungicide.

Once the Salinas Valley tests are in, EcoSeal will seek private funding to finish the EPA approval process and begin marketing.

“We’re almost ready,” Smith said. “We’ve identified market potential and customers. People are saying they will buy it if it works and, after June, we expect it to be independently validated in our field studies.”

As a professor and scientist, Geoffrey Smith said he’s excited to see NMX gaining traction. The original research contributed to the professional development of students who worked on creating it and the product may now help growers in the real world.

“It’s a win-win,” Geoffrey said. “It added to the professional accomplishments of NMSU students, and it’s gratifying to see basic laboratory research find a direct application in society by helping to produce cleaner fruits and vegetables.”

Teams win accolades, support from NMSU’s Arrowhead Center during Launch competition

DATE: 05/25/2016

WRITER: Lauren Goldstein, 575-646-5069

CONTACT: Terry Lombard, 575-646-2791,

Three teams won money and support during this year’s Launch competition hosted by Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University.

On April 28, Launch finalists competed for a $25,000 equity investment award to accelerate their game-changing technologies. The Launch finals competition, now in its fifth year, had not previously been open to the public. In addition to the sizable grand award, there was a crowd favorite prize of $1,000 and a social media favorite prize of $500, which resulted from a new initiative to push out Launch technologies through a social media campaign.

Launch is a Proof of Concept Center, a program to accelerate the commercialization of technologies developed at NMSU by faculty, staff and students. This round started with participation of 10 top-tier finalists selected from an initial applicant pool. After completion of a three-month spring program, four teams that met all milestones appeared in the final competition. Shanta Thoutam, Launch competition director, and Terry Lombard, director of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer at Arrowhead Center, coordinated Launch.

“These are success stories,” said Lombard as she welcomed the crowd at last month’s competition.

Launch finalists presented in front of a panel of judges including Kevin Robinson-Avila from the Albuquerque Journal; Mathis Shinnick, an investor and senior management executive with a focus on biotechnology; Robert Herrera, a venture capitalist and Arrowhead Center adviser; and Jason Koenig, former director of Commercialization and Entrepreneurship at Arrowhead Center. Unlike Arrowhead Center’s Shark Tank event, judges did not invest their own money in the technologies.

The team LIBS in the Field clinched the crowd favorite prize of $1,000 and the social media campaign prize of $500. The MAESTRO team secured the $25,000 equity investment award, which they will use to form a company to re-brand and license the MAESTRO system to serve universities worldwide. Two teams, Niekaab and LIBS in the Field, will participate in this summer’s National Science Foundation and Aggie I-Corps programs, respectively, through Arrowhead Center.

Catherine Brewer, an assistant professor in the Chemical and Materials Engineering department at NMSU’s College of Engineering, and her doctoral student Ali Amiri were the first to present at this year’s Launch finals event. Brewer and Amiri developed a small scale, low-temperature, multiple-effect distillation system for brackish groundwater. Their system is designed to desalinate brakish water using biomass and produce biochar by-product. Brewer and Amiri plan to form a company, Niekaab (“good water” in Farsi), to license the technology that is applicable to small farms and smaller square footage areas than traditional desalination systems.

“Customer discovery can never happen too early and you have to protect intellectual property, and demonstrate that the technology works,” Brewer told judges in response to a question about what her team learned by participating in Launch.

Ed Zenisek, co-creator of MAESTRO, delivered a passionate presentation and highlighted his team of NMSU employee co-founders with 60 years of combined IT experience. Zenisek said MAESTRO saved NMSU $250,000 by streamlining a human subjects research compliance review system that once involved thousands of reams of paper and a chain of desk-passing. The system, developed by users with integrated feedback, can be adapted to other university compliance requirement and needs. MAESTRO is NMSU-owned, so the team proposed to use the Launch award to license the software from NMSU and provide service to other universities under a new name and branding.

Nancy McMillan, head of the Geological Sciences department at NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, engaged the audience with LIBS in the Field, a technology used to analyze spots of elements from the entire periodic table as small as 50 microns, the width of a human hair. Additional applications included analysis of contaminated water to quickly identify the source of specific contaminants. The illuminator fills an industry need for accurate, lightweight laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. David Cremers, co-inventor of LIBS technology, Rosalie Multari and Ann Nelson at Creative LIBS partnered with McMillan and her student Sean Goudy on the technology.

Launch will open its application process again in August. Anyone interested in Launch or other related opportunities is asked to contact Terry Lombard at

Information on Arrowhead Center and its suite of programs is available at


Entrepreneuring #10 - Dr. Paul Furth

Entrepreneuring #11 - Dr. Rolston St. Hilaire

Entrepreneuring #12 - Nasser Khazeni

Entrepreneuring #13 - Shanta Thoutam

Entrepreneuring #14 - Frank Seidel of Seidel Technologies

Entrepreneuring #15 - Brian Brushwood


SBIR / STTR Phase 1 Proposal Development Workshop with DoD emphasis

When: June 2, 2016

Where: AFRL PTi Sunport 2350 Alamo Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm

Startup Las Cruces Meetup Group

When: June 22, 2016

Where: The Game Sports Bar and Grill, 2605 South Espina Street, Las Cruces, NM 88001

Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.