Team Activities

Individual Accomplishments

Leo Silbert

I have:

  • Professional Development Training: Online Teaching and Learning training follows Quality Matters guidelines allows me to teach online.
  • Student success:
    • Newly developed online Physics 15-week lab classes based on QM and Universal Design protocols.
    • Incorporated several active learning activities into the classroom including; exam wrappers, scientist spotlight, and think-pair-share like group work.
  • Student Research Opportunities: Initiated research collaboration with students at CNM, introducing them to literature review, presentation development, and preliminary computer simulation projects.

Next steps:

  • Establish structured Mentorship (MURE) and collaborative Partnership (PURE) undergraduate research opportunities.
  • Promote student self-directed research activities, such as attending virtual conferences and remote seminars.
  • Engage faculty colleagues in seminar series across all STEM disciplines (STEMinar).

Melanie Will-Cole

I have:

1. Student success:

  • Redesigned many lessons in my STEM theory courses (F2F, online) to be more kinesthetic and engaging.
  • Created/developed CNM's the first on-line GEOL lab course (15 modules). The laboratory modules are interactive computer-based simulations and/or models, combined with instructor created inquiry guided worksheets.  Instructional elements are student-centered kinesthetic  activities which are inquiry based and data rich, hence promote quantitative literacy  and motivate students to  to explore science concepts while at the same  time monitor their understanding.
  • Employed metacognition "Exit Reflections" after select lessons (students write a few sentences focused on what they learned/how they learned it and what they do not understand).
  • Analyzed the effects of geoscience course delivery method on student enrollment & student success over 4 –yr.  time domain.

 2. Career-transfer pathways:

  • Created new geoscience theory course units involving critical thinking research-based activities, data analyses, interpretation and representation that are strongly integrated with real-life geoscience issues. Used scientist spotlight reflection to instate/support student's science identities (e.g., scientist spotlights with URM in STEM).
  • Initiated a collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for student summer internship opportunities.  A partner-based undergraduate experience (PURE) at AFRL begins Summer 2021with a former CNM (recently transferred to UNM) geoscience/engineering undergraduate student.

Next steps: Establish a CURE and/or student research programs with engaged colleagues (external and internal to CNM), CNM administrators and local community professional technical partnerships.

Team Accomplishments

Strengthening our Department/Program

Accomplishments/Action Plan:
Accomplishments for Goal #1 (student academic success):

  • Created  critical thinking STEM course experiences grounded in active learning pedagogies' (F2F/online).
  • Created free geoscience and physics labs/manuals with 21st century relevant lab activities support both F2F & online forums.

Accomplishments for Goal #2 (student sense of community):

  • Constructed a sense of community for CNM students through the establishment of the geo-scholars club open to all students who love the Earth from the ground to the sky.
  • Created UR foundation to foster student sense of identity/belonging

Accomplishments for Goal #3 (enable STEM student pathways):

  • Established professional partnerships with SNL and the NM Natural History Museum. Partnerships will enable student research opportunities, educational and career pathways.
  • Constructed a Mentor Undergraduate Research Experience (MURE) for physics student(s).
  • Developed a strategy to integrate STEM research speakers into CNMs STEMinar series.
  • Created  lesson on STEM job opportunities & career pathways.

Next Steps:

  • Create video to enhance awareness of STEM disciplines & research opportunities for academic advisors student recruitment inventory.
  • Create/establish student research opportunities for CNM students (e.g., CURE, MURE, PURE, SURE)
  • Collect/Analyze DL student success data/student survey data 2021

Developing our Campus Community

Engaging our Colleagues:

  • Educated CNM faculty on the various  research engagement models and the  benefits pathways, logistics, and challenges associated with establishing student research opportunities.
  • Workshop attendees provided us with their personal research experiences and how it affected their STEM career choice.
  • Conducted brain storming sessions with colleagues to integrate their experiences, expertise and ideas for creating student research opportunities

Next Steps:

  • Establish a working group/UR committee
  • Garner CNM advocates
  • Implement professional development workshops and student information and recruitment sessions
  • Develop a support and sustainability plan
  • Identify potential research projects
  • Identify reporting methods: conferences, symposia, meeting venues. Publication and marketing venues

Team Members

Leonardo (Leo) Silbert

Leo is a computational and theoretical physicist with emphasis on soft condensed matter physics research. He collaborates with colleagues at Sandia National Laboratories and has published articles and submitted and reviewed proposals to NSF.


Leo teaches Physics I & II (algebra and calculus), Circuits I, and Thermodynamics Theory.

Melanie Will-Cole

Melanie has more than 30 years experience performing experimental research in materials physics as a senior scientist and is a Fellow of the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. She has published 139 peer reviewed articles in archival journals with more than 50% as the lead author. Her work has been cited more than 3000 times. She holds 12 US patents, 1 invention disclosure, and 2 licensed patents. At CNMCC, she received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2019. She enjoys teaching and mentoring the next generation of scientists.


Melanie teaches Physical Geology (lecture and lab), honors Climate Science (lecture and lab) and Physical Science.


Central New Mexico Community College serves more than 35,000 students per year from its 9 locations in and around Albuquerque, making it the largest undergraduate institution of higher education in the state. Forty-one percent of its students are older than 25, 51% are Hispanic/Latino and 7 percent are Native American. Sixty percent of first-time, full-time students are awarded Pell grants and 84% of first-time, full-time students receive some financial aid.


The School of Math, Science and Engineering is one of five schools at Central New Mexico. It includes the Earth and Planetary Sciences, Astronomy, Physics, and Engineering, and Geography programs. Within the school there are courses in Astronomy, Biology, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Earth and Planetary Science, Engineering, Geography, Mathematics, Natural Science, Nutrition and Physics. Within the Astronomy, Physics, and Engineering program, five full-time and five part-time faculty teach courses in Astronomy, Engineering, Environmental Studies/Policy, and Physics. The 200+ students in this program are Physics and Engineering majors who are seeking an Associates degree and/or plan to transfer to 4-year institutions as well as pre-health students taking prerequisite classes. In the Geography program, two full-time and five part-time instructors teach courses in Earth System Science, Environmental Studies/Policy, Environmental Science, Human Geography, Physical Geography, GIS, World Regional Geography, and the Geography of Food. There are approximately 375 students per year, mostly non-majors fulfilling either natural science or social science requirements. CNM's Earth and Planetary Science program offers an Associate degree in geoscience which is transferable to 4-year institutions. The department consists of one full-time and four adjunct faculty and offers courses in physical geology, historical geology, paleontology, environmental geology, geology of New Mexico, climate science, and a variety of special topics courses. There are 400+ students per year, with ~ 15 % pursuing geoscience and/or engineering degrees; the remainder are fulfilling the their lab science requirement for liberal arts degrees.

Institutional demographic data is from IPEDS the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, U.S. Department of Education, typically for the 2018-19 year as available.