NRGS Faculty

Northern's College of Engineering and Technology is unique in northern New Mexico. With an average class size of 12, we offer you the personalized attention so difficult to get at larger universities, and we are one of the most affordable in the nation.  Also, we provide strong hands-on experiences from day one, and we make sure that every single engineering class provides such experiences.

Ivanthumb160Ivan Lopez, PhD
Dean, College of Engineering and Technology
(Electrical/Control Engineering)
Full C.V.

Ivan Lopez comes to Northern from the University of New Mexico (UNM) with a doctorate in electrical and computer engineering. Prior to UNM Ivan Lopez was Chair of the Mechatronics Engineering Faculty for two years at the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Cd. Juarez, Mexico. There he became a certified instructor in problem-based learning and taught courses in control, logic systems, engineering math and dynamics.

Prior to his academic experience Ivan Lopez was engaged in industrial work at VI Technology and JOT Automation, both companies in Mexico and Schlumberger in Houston, TX. Dr. Lopez earned a summa cum laude Bachelor of Industrial Physics and a summa cum laude Master of Science in Control Engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Monterrey, Mexico. Dr. Lopez is experienced in control and automation.

ashisthumb160Ashis Nandy, PhD
Assistant Professor
Full C.V.


Ashis Nandy is currently an Assistant professor in the Department of Engineering at the Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, New Mexico. He has completed his doctoral research on Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells from the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department at the Pennsylvania State University and will be receiving his PhD degree in summer 2012. He has a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Jadavpur University, India and a MS degree in Aerospace Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India respectively.

After completing his BS degree Ashis Nandy was engaged in industrial work at Tata Motors, Pune, India. His current research interests include fuel cells, electrochemical systems, renewable energy systems, heat transfer, multi-phase flows and computational fluid dynamics. He has published his work in journals and conferences and has served as a reviewer for the proceedings of ASME fuel cell conference.

jorgethumbJorge Crichigno, PhD
Associate Professor


Jorge Crichigno received the BSc degree in electrical engineering from Catholic University of Asuncion, Paraguay, in 2004, and the MSc and PhD degrees in computer engineering from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 2008 and 2009, respectively. He is currently an associate professor in the Engineering Department at Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, New Mexico.

His current research interests include wireless and optical networks, graph theory, mathematical optimization, and undergraduate STEM education. He has served as a reviewer and TPC member of journals and conferences such as IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE WCNC, IEEE Globecom, and as a panelist for NSF STEM undergraduate education initiatives. He is a member of the IEEE Computer Society and the American Society for Engineering Education.

Vishal Mehta, PhDVishalMehtaPhoto
Assistant Professor
Full C.V.


Vishal Mehta is currently an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Technology at Northern New Mexico College, Española, New Mexico. Prior to coming to Northern, Dr. Mehta was at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, conducting photovoltaic research as a postdoc. Vishal has MS and PhD degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. He earned his BE degree in Metallurgy from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.

His current research interest includes renewable energy, materials processing, instrumentation, semiconductor devices and STEM Education. He has published his work in journals and conferences and has served as a reviewer for the International Journal of Photoenergy. Prior to his academic experience, Dr. Mehta was engaged in industrial work at Keystone Valves (I) Pvt. Ltd and Birla Copper in India.

The Department of Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science (BCES) is focused on providing our students with the skill sets they need to succeed!

With modern research laboratories managed by our faculty, and an emphasis on the natural laboratories provided by the beautiful environments of northern New Mexico, we promote a stimulating learning environment that includes research experience in the lab and the field.

brendaDr. Brenda M. Linnell
Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Office: GE 115

Dr. Brenda M. Linnell (née: Brenda M. Porta Briseno) was born and raised in Mexico City, She presented the thesis “Synthesis and Characterization of Dendrimeric Polymers Functionalized with Lactam-Imides," 2001.

She earned a Bachelor in Chemistry with honors from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She presented the thesis “Synthesis and Characterization of Dendrimeric Polymers Functionalized with Lactam-Imides," 2001. She received a Masters Degree in Organic Chemistry from UNAM, with the research on “Functionalization of lactam-imides with non-linear optical properties,” 2003. The research advisor for both projects was Dr. Lioudmila Fomina, Materials Research Institute.

Brenda worked as research assistant for Dr. Javier Cruz Gomez, at the Engineering Department of the College of Chemistry at UNAM, Mexico, from 2004 to 2006. In 2005, she worked as General Chemistry and Organic Chemistry Lecturer for the School of Science at UNAM. In the summer of 2006 she was invited to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) by Dr. Juan Noveron as a research assistant and started her PhD in January 2007. To support her studies she worked as Teaching Assistant from January 2007 to December 2009. After that she continued as Research Assistant where she mentored over 16 students, with undergraduate research presented in the American Chemical Society and the SACNAS National Meetings and non-indexed under graduated projects until the completion of her degree.

In 2011, she got a PhD in Chemistry, with the dissertation entitled “Metal-Mediated Self-Assembly of Gold Nanoparticles.” Her advisor for this project was Dr. Juan Noveron from the University of Texas at El Paso. Brenda has been a member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) since 2006. She served as treasurer for the SACNAS, UTEP Chapter from August 2008 to August 2009. In August 2011, she joined Northern New Mexico College as Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society Advisor.

Joaquin GallegosJoaquin Gallegos
Assistant Professor, Environmental Science
GE 110

Joaquin Gallegos received his masters degree from New Mexico State University in Range Science.

Mr. Gallegos has worked in the private cattle industry across the state, for New Mexico State University in Extension Education, and currently the owner of an environmental consulting company working with federal land management agencies.

Mr. Gallegos' research interests include Ponderosa pine forest restoration from mixed conifer encroachment and its impacts on watershed health. Similarly, he is interested in riparian areas and bosques and how to effectively control woody invasive species and their propagation.

marioizaguirresierraMario Izaguirre-­‐Sierra Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Biology
Office: GE 104C
Izaguirre-Sierra lab @ NNMC on Facebook

Dr. Izaguirre­-Sierra’s interest in cell biology and plant development began while developing his undergraduate thesis project (1997) in Dr. Elena Alvarez—Buylla’s laboratory at UNAM in Mexico City.

In the summer of 2000, he had the opportunity to work as a summer intern in the URP program with Prof. David Spector at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. As a Ph.D. student, he continued his studies in the UK at the John Innes Centre working in the laboratories of Prof. Peter Shaw and Prof. Liam Dolan where he studied the mechanisms that maintain Cajal bodies in the eukaryotic cell. To continue his research in the biology of the cell nucleus, he joined Prof. Greg Matera’s group at UNC Chapel Hill (2008) and Prof. Joe Gall (2010) where he used Drosophila as a model system. In 2013 he worked as a research associate with Prof. Steve Wolniak at UMD-­‐College Park studying sumoylation in Marsilea vestita.

Simultaneously with his research career, Dr. Izaguirre-­‐Sierra taught biology in Anne Arundel Community College (Annapolis, MD). He had been involved in doing outreach education for the BioEYES program, which is a K-­‐12 science outreach program of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Baltimore, MD. He was also been a member of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT), where he served as a STEM specialist in the classroom.

In the summer of 2013, Dr. Izaguirre-­‐Sierra joined the department of biology at NNMC, where he is using a combination of genetic, cellular, biochemical and genomic approaches to fully understand the relationship between nuclear structure

and function in plant development. With his ongoing research experience in nuclear structure, he is establishing a research program that will train undergraduate students in the laboratory using PCR, fluorescent microscopy and molecular genetics to study Arabidopsis and Drosophila as model systems.

Chavarria-NNMC-photoDr. Pedro Chavarria
Assistant Professor,  Environmental Science  
Office: GE 108

Dr. Pedro Mazier Chavarria’s research interests are in field ecology—with emphasis on terrestrial vertebrates, their population dynamics, habitat use, and impacts associated with stochastic events.

Early research experience includes assisting Dr. William O. Wirtz II, through the REU program, on post-­‐fire succession of vegetation and vertebrates in coastal sage scrub communities in southern California. This included examining breeding success of the endangered California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica). Upon graduating with a B.A. in Biology from Pomona College, he pursued work as a biological technician with the National Park Service at Joshua Tree National Park where he protected and monitored the endangered Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii).

His work with endangered species continued at Channel Islands National Park where he assisted with the captive breeding and monitoring of the once-­‐critically endangered Island Fox (Urocyon littoralis littoralis). In 2006, Pedro received his M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from Texas A&M University after assisting the Big Thicket National Preserve evaluate feral hog impacts to natural resources. He also received his Ph.D. in 2013 from Texas A&M University wherein his dissertation focused on the ecology of Montezuma quail in southeast Arizona.

Dr. Chavarria’s teaching experience includes teaching biology at Blinn College (Bryan, TX), and Fundamentals of Ecology and Wildlife Techniques labs at Texas A&M University. He has been active in outreach education for K-­‐12, most recently with the Minority Youth Environmental Training Institutes, a STEM program for 17-­‐

20 years old students, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Environmental Protection Agency, for the National Hispanic Environmental Council.

Travis w snakeDr. Travis R. Robbins
Assistant Professor, Biology
GE 109

Dr. Travis R. Robbins studies the ecological mechanisms that result in evolution.

His interests range from the evolution of life histories in response to climate change to behavioral evolution in response to invasive species to the evolutionary significance of culture. Most of his research, however, is on Sceloporus lizards (AKA Spiny lizards or Swifts), focusing on their genetic and plastic responses to environmental change and the underlying interactions between physiological (e.g. hormonal), behavioral (e.g. resource use and niche construction), and epigenetic mechanisms. His research and teaching endeavors have brought him to Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, the subtropics of Florida, and inside Biosphere 2 in the Arizona desert. He has recently (Fall 2014) returned to the desert and joined the Department of Biology at NORTHERN New Mexico University.

Dr. Robbins has been teaching and mentoring students since he was an undergraduate at Arizona State University (1994) and Columbia University Biosphere 2 (1996), where he was involved in teaching and co-teaching many field-oriented classes and labs, some of which included student research projects. As a graduate student at University of South Florida (2000) and Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Pennsylvania State University (2010) he had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant, guest lecturer, and mentor for undergraduate students, including honors students whom he guided through their thesis research. He has taught Environmental Science, Ecology, Genetics, and General Biology, as well as developed laboratory curricula and manuals.

Over his academic career Dr. Robbins has directed over 20 undergraduate and graduate students in research, with some projects serving as undergraduate honors theses and many resulting in publication in high-profile international journals. He has also been involved with multiple public outreach programs targeted toward students from elementary to high school. Many of these programs have promoted multi-cultural involvement in STEM undergraduate research, of which he is an enthusiastic proponent as an enrolled tribal member himself. He is currently involved in multiple ecological projects that range from aversion-learning in fence lizards (Sceloporus undulatus) to jumping behavior of Mexican jumping bean moths (Cydia deshaisiana) in response to abiotic conditions.

UlisesRicoyDr. Ulises M. Ricoy
Chair, Department of Biology
Office: GE 104B
Full C.V.

Ulises M. Ricoy received his PhD in Neurobiology at the University of Texas-San Antonio. As an undergraduate, he was a Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Scholar, (National Institutes of Health) from 1996-98.

He joined the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists (SACNAS) as an undergraduate and has been an active member since 1997. Ulises studied Marine Biology at San Francisco State University from 1998-2000 and helped initiate a SACNAS student chapter at SFSU. He has taught courses in brain and behavior, human biology, drug abuse and ecology in Mexico City at the Monterrey Technology Institute. He also completed a Certificate “Diplomado” in Addiction from the Department of Psychology at the Universidad Ibero Americana and worked as a drug-abuse counselor in Mexico City.

After completing graduate work in Behavioral Neuroscience, Ulises completed a postdoctoral stay at Oregon Health Science University, where he studied cellular mechanisms of central (hippocampus) synaptic transmission. Specifically, he studied synaptic output in response to neuronal activity patterns seen in vivo. To do this, he examined how presynaptic inhibition is involved in synaptic release utilizing highly selective calcium channel blockers obtained from marine snails and spiders. His current interests include developing an undergraduate research program at Northern New Mexico College.

Northern's Mathematics and Physical Science Department offers the math background needed for most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines.

We teach a complete spectrum of mathematics courses including discrete mathematics, analysis, numerical analysis, ordinary and partial differential equations, probability and scientific computing.

Dr.AjitHiraAjit Hira, PhD 
Associate Professor, Mathematics and Science
Office: High Tech. Bldg.


Dr. Ajit Hira was born in India and emigrated to the U.S. in 1984. He holds a BA in Liberal Arts from Panjab University in India. After moving to the U.S., he earned a BS in Mathematics and Physics, an MS in Physics, and a PhD in Physics and Mathematical Sciences from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1990. He taught at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, before moving to New Mexico. He has taught courses in Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry at Northern New Mexico College since January 2000. His research interests include Nanotechnology, Chaotic and Nonlinear Physics, and Plasma Physics. He was awarded tenure as full-time faculty at Northern New Mexico College in 2007.

Ana Vasilic, PhD
Assistant Professor, Applied Mathematics

Dr.ClaudiaApreaClaudia Aprea, PhD
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Office: HT 100A


Dr. Claudia Aprea is an assistant professor in the Department of Math and Science at Northern New Mexico College, where she teaches math and atmospheric science. She earned her PhD in Geophysics from the University of Washington in 1996. Prior to Northern, she worked for 8 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, first as a post-doc, and then as a Research Staff Member. Her research interests are in computational geophysics, finite difference modeling, and Aerobiology.

DavidTorresDavid Torres, PhD
Chair, Department of Math and Science
Office: GE-119B
Full C.V.


Dr. David Torres is Chair of the Department of Math & Physical Science at Northern New Mexico College, where he teaches math courses. He earned his PhD in Mathematics from the University of New Mexico in 1996. His research interests include computational fluid dynamics and parallel computer simulations. He has four children and enjoys coaching youth soccer.

Choose us for our value, our quality degree and continuing education programs in diverse areas of study, our experienced faculty, and NORTHERN provides students with unique opportunities for academic, personal and professional growth. “You will have personalized attention, something difficult to get at larger colleges. We provide strong hands-on experiences from day one.” –Dr. Ivan Lopez, Dean, College of Engineering & Technology
The Northern Foundation remains committed to stimulate leadership, promote equity, and grow resources and philanthropy in the Española Valley and surrounding rural areas. Over the past twenty years, we have granted $1.3 million to support over 1,250 NNMC students.