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NMSU names Luis Cifuentes as vice president for research

New Mexico State University has selected Luis Cifuentes of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi as its next vice president for research. Cifuentes will start on July 1.

Currently, Cifuentes serves as special assistant to the president at TAMUCC. From 2012-2017, Cifuentes was vice president for Research, Commercialization and Outreach at TAMUCC.

“We are very pleased that Dr. Cifuentes has agreed to lead our research and creative activities at NMSU,” said NMSU Provost Dan Howard. “He is an accomplished scholar and research administrator who understands the importance of the research enterprise at NMSU and is committed to promoting excellence and innovation in the scholarly activities of our faculty and staff.”

At TAMUCC, Cifuentes oversaw increases in sponsored research and led the drive to have the university designated as one of the national FAA test sites. His research background is in oceanography and he has been a leader on research grants totaling more than $5 million. 

Prior to serving at TAMUCC, Cifuentes was on the faculty of Texas A&M University College Station, where he rose from assistant professor to professor in the Department of Oceanography. He also served as executive associate dean and associate dean for research in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University College Station.

Cifuentes said he is excited about coming to NMSU.

“What I find here is a welcoming optimism,” he said. “I get the sense that there is tremendous potential.” During his two recent visits to campus, he said, “I was amazed at the energy and enthusiasm of the people I talked to. That makes me feel honored to become a part of this university.”

Cifuentes is no stranger to New Mexico. Since the late 1980s, he and his wife, Lauren, have visited the state regularly – she has close relatives who grew chiles in Hatch, New Mexico. They look forward to experiencing Las Cruces’ rich arts and culture.

He is also particularly interested in joining NMSU due to its land-grant mission and status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution.

“It’s important that Hispanic-Serving Institutions truly serve their Hispanic students,” he said, which includes providing meaningful, important research opportunities that lead to jobs or acceptance to graduate school.

Cifuentes has a bachelor’s with honors in chemistry from Swarthmore College as well as a master’s in marine studies and a Ph.D. in oceanography, both from the University of Delaware. 

Howard expressed his thanks to Luis Vazquez, who served as interim vice president for research.

“We all owe thanks to Dr. Luis Vazquez for his good work as interim vice president for research at NMSU,” Howard said. “Recognizing that the university could not stand still while we searched for a permanent vice president, he has worked aggressively over the last year to advance research and creative activities at NMSU, especially in the area of interdisciplinary research.”

Information from NMSU