Margie Vela


   margievela    Mentor: Dr. Paul Gutierrez
  RISE Scholar since: Spring 2016

  • Ph.D. Water Science and Management, New Mexico State University, Expected 2018
  • M.S. Business Administration, University of Phoenix, 2008
  • B.S. Business Marketing, University of Phoenix, 2006
Research Interests:

  • I have three areas of interest that I am currently pursuing as a Ph.D. student at NMSU: 1. I am interested in examining the impact of access to clean and safe drinking water on rural communities on the US-Mexico Border, examining changes in socio-economic status, perceived quality of life, access to healthcare, and access to education in these communities. 2. I am also working on a vulnerability assessment, which examines the percentage of the US-Mexico Border Region that lacks access to water conveyance systems and domestic wells. These regions may pose a threat to public health and border security. 3. Finally, I am examining how current STEM education policy is impacting the future of water studies, water security, and healthy living for the well-being of students in rural and disadvantaged communities facing severe drought and water scarcity. Lack of water in disadvantaged communities has often resulted in food scarcity, higher morbidity rates, and higher mortality rates. This research examines human perceptions and behaviors high school students in a developing community in the Border Region.
Teaching Experience and Interests:

  • I completed my undergraduate and graduate degrees at a non-traditional institution of higher education. My undergraduate work in business marketing and my graduate degree in business administration, gave me an opportunity to work on grant administration and program implementation. Working on federal programs gave me experience with academic interventions exposed me to the scientific process applied to educational models. I was involved in primary data collection, data management, and data analysis. As the program coordinator and assistant director, I took the initiative to administer, assess, and report internal surveys for program participants to express their satisfaction and recommendations for improvement. I worked with a motivated and ambitious team, and an exceptional external evaluator to design and redesign improved interventions. We were extremely successful in improving retention and graduation rates for first-generation students from underrepresented populations. This experience has prepared me to engage rigorous academic research.

  • My career goals include conducting research in water policy that examines the health disparities caused by lack of access to water. I am interested in understanding the implications of clean drinking water as an indicator for the wellness and self-sustainability of communities across the globe. As the resource becomes scarcer, shortage will be felt in the economic and physical wellness of communities, and directly impacts the security of communities across the world. I intend to explore implications on the well-being and security of current infrastructures and economies of communities; I will examine best practices and solutions for resolving health disparities in communities lacking access to water; and I will find possible solutions for balance and compromise between competing sectors of this resource to ensure that the wellness of all communities is of the highest priority in informing policy makers and water managers. I plan to pursue water research while engaging and mentoring Hispanic students to complete a baccalaureate degree in the sciences and pursue graduate degrees. I would like to mentor students to successfully achieve their goals while making a difference for the wellness of communities facing environmental, economic, and cultural challenges.
Research Abstracts:

  • Are water delivery and sanitation infrastructure always beneficial? A Cost Benefit Analysis of infrastructure in a rural US-Mexico border community Abstract: Water management and sanitation systems are interdependent components of a comprehensive water plan for achieving and sustaining safe drinking water. Many members of impoverished communities experience health and education disparities due to a lack of sanitation and water delivery infrastructure for ensuring their access to potable water. The Colonias of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California often lack the infrastructure to provide their residents with access to water, exemplifying the challenges that many impoverished rural areas found throughout the world face. This study will discover the long term affects that the development of infrastructure and policy have on a rural border community respective to changes in economic stability through a cost-benefit analysis of infrastructure and services for Sunland Park, NM. Using information from previous studies, a comparative analysis will present differences in economic viability for two communities with similar profiles: Sunland Park, TX and Vinton, TX. The research utilizes cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the usefulness, development, and implementation of water infrastructure programs and the alternatives for providing accessibility to clean and fresh water. This project will add to the current body of knowledge, providing critical economic information for data driven decisions for management of water resources and infrastructure programs influencing quality of life for many emerging communities along the trans-boundary regions of the US-Mexico Border.
  • Broader Impacts and the National Science Foundation Abstract: The National Science Foundation considers two criteria in the merit review process: intellectual merit and broader impacts. While intellectual merit is at the core of scientific research, considerations for the broader impacts of science were included in the review process in October 1997. The scientific community has met the challenge with diverging views, partially due to confusion surrounding the expectations for achieving the broader impact. The National Science Board has responded by revising broader impacts several times since 1997, impacting the way proposers approach the matter. This study utilizes text-mining techniques to examine proposals using a set of key indicator terms for each one of the five subcategories of broader impacts for proposals submitted 2007-2014. Average percentiles and trends are used to analyze the changes in the proposed broader impacts of the research and the focus of the scientific community on these broader impacts. Results will be used to inform policy makers and researchers on the community’s focus on these impacts in the aggregate, and the opportunities for improved awareness

  • National Science Foundation Summer Scholar’s Program
  • Golden Key Honour Society
  • Domenici Public Policy Student Panelist
Service activities:

  • Latinos in Agriculture Leadership Steering Committee
  • Presentation for Mesa students (NMSU Visit)