Donating to UNM Biology

Dear Alumni and Friends,

Biology courses have been taught at UNM since 1892, three years after the university was founded. From our initial courses in Physiology, Botany and Zoology, to our first listing in the 1896–1897 catalog, through our present programs, the Biology Department has grown stronger, adding its first faculty members in 1913,  appointment of our first female department Chair in 1923 (Helen Murphy), awarding the first M.S. degree in 1928, and the first Ph.D. degree in 1952. This was also the year that Dr. Edward Castetter, for whom our present building is named, joined the department as Professor and Chair. During his 29-year tenure, the first Ph.D. was conferred (1952), our curriculum and our graduate program expanded, and the number of faculty quadrupled. During the 1960s, when Dr. Loren Potter was Chair, our teaching and research programs continued to grow in size and sophistication and our number of faculty doubled, 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 one of the largest Arts & Sciences departments at UNM with 41 faculty, over 80 staff, ~100 graduate students, and 1300 majors, 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 outstanding faculty publish in many high-profile professional journals and the department has published more than 3,400 peer-reviewed articles since 1972.

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 continuing support,

Cristina Takacs-Vesbach
Professor and Chair

Your Gifts at Work

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 contribute directly to some of our specialized programs and associated units, please visit their individual websites, accessible under "Major Research Programs" on the Biology Home Page.