Contributing to UNM Biology
Dear Alumni and Friends,
Biology courses have been taught at UNM since 1892, three years after the university was founded. The original course offerings of Physiology, Botany and Zoology were conducted in a biological laboratory complete with dissecting equipment and a microscope (note: singular!) housed in the Main Building. From these humble beginnings to its first listing in the 1896–1897 catalog, a Prospectus of Academic Departments, the Biology Department has continued to grow and improve. With the appointment of the first two faculty members in 1913, a Master’s program was offered the following academic year. The department also was quick to recognize gender equality with the appointment in 1923 of its first female chairwoman, Assistant Professor Dr. Helen Murphy. A significant milestone was reached in 1928 with the award of the first M.S. degree from the Biology Department. This was also the year that Dr. Edward Castetter, for whom our present building is named, joined the department as Professor and Chairman. During his 29-year tenure, the first Ph.D. was conferred in 1952, many new course subjects were introduced, and both faculty and graduate students increased in number. During the 1960s, under the chairmanship of Dr. Loren Potter, our teaching and research programs continued to grow in size and sophistication, culminating in the construction of the new wing of Castetter Hall, subsequently named the Potter Wing in recognition of Dr. Potter’s 14-year commitment as chair to Biology.
Today, the Biology Department is the largest Arts & Sciences department at UNM with 45 faculty, 97 staff and more than 100 graduate students, and has made an outstanding contribution to furthering knowledge and understanding through basic research as well as helping thousands of students achieve their potential. Our faculty boasts three Distinguished Professors and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and publish in many high-profile professional journals. Since 2000, of the 66 papers appearing in Science and Nature from the state of New Mexico, 24 were from UNM’s Biology Department.
While the Biology Department has changed dramatically over the years, our goal remains unchanged—to benefit our community and society through the advancement of knowledge. In order to remain at the forefront of internationally renowned pioneering research and to maintain a high quality of undergraduate and graduate educational programs, charitable support from our alumni and friends is crucial. In an era of declining government funding, your philanthropic contributions to the Biology Department are ever more important. It provides flexibility for the department, allowing us to invest in areas of excellence, and to fund equipment to advance our research and teaching. It provides scholarships and supports our new and existing facilities, all of which are vital to our everyday activities—the things that make the Biology Department special and vibrant. As with the first biological laboratory in the Main Building, the tradition of benefaction began when students and friends of UNM were encouraged to provide resources through continuing support that were essential for the development of our department and for making it what it is today. To find out how your donations are used in our department, please visit “Your Gifts at Work” (below).
I encourage you to drop by for a visit or join us on our Annual Research Day; for more information and other activities, see the departmental calendar on our website.
Thank you for your help and continuing support,
Richard M. Cripps
Professor and Chair
The Biology Department Chair’s Fund: This fund is vital to building a strong department. Endowed chairs, scholarships, fellowships and research are some of the ventures that have been realized thanks to your generosity. Your support allows us to continue investing in the growth and advancement of the Biology Department by providing enriched opportunities for research and study. Some of the initiatives funded include:
- Student Recruitment: arranges and pays for selected, high-caliber applicants for Teaching and Research Assistantships to visit the department.
- Graduate Student Support: to recognize high achievement and scholarship, including teaching excellence among Teaching Assistants.
- Continuing Education and Professional Stature: financial assistance to graduate students and faculty to attend professional seminars and symposia to deliver papers on their research activities.
- Local Seminars and Symposia: allocation of funds to sponsor seminars and symposia in Albuquerque to attract attention to UNM and the Biology Department.
If you wish to contrbiute directly to some of our specilaized programs and associated units, please visit their individual websites, accessible under "Major Research Programs" on the Biology Home Page.
We provide two ways to donate, and both ways of giving are tax deductible and support the Department of Biology: (1) Check or money order mailed directly to the Biological Society of New Mexico. (2) Or online credit card donation made at the UNM Foundation's secure website. In Step 1, you will be asked where you want to direct your gift; choose "College of Arts and Sciences" for the Primary College/Program. Under "Secondary Program/Fund", choose "Other" and write in "Department of Biology," followed by a fund name. If you don't have a specific fund in mind, then type in "Biology Department Chair’s Fund."
Thank you for your support.