Central New Mexico Community College Change Agent Team

Leonardo Silbert, Astronomy, Physics, and Engineering
Marissa Wald, Geography
Melanie Will-Cole, Earth and Planetary Sciences

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.