Biology Graduate Advocacy Committee

Like any institution, members of the UNM Biology Department sometimes experience interpersonal conflict—ranging from minor disagreements to substantial disputes. Though the University of New Mexico provides Ombuds services for staff, much of the conflict that occurs within the Biology Department involves nuances of lab cultures, interpersonal history, and academic structure that are difficult for outside parties to navigate. Such conflict often exposes power dynamics between a faculty member or principal investigator and a graduate student in their research group. In order to provide a resource for conflict resolution, the Biology Department has established a Graduate Student Advocate committee. 
The committee comprises two tenured faculty members within the Biology Department with the trust, authority, and tact to resolve a wide range of interpersonal conflicts. In short, this committee gives Biology graduate students a place to voice non-Title IX concerns/issues about their academic advisors, their TA instructors, etc. Examples of reasons to talk with an advocate include—but are not limited to—switching major advisors, navigating an MSII (non-thesis) track, or TA workload. If in doubt, consider contacting an advocate and they will point you to the resource(s) you need.
The Grad Advocates are entrusted to deal with each situation as they best see fit. All issues brought before any of the appointed individuals will be resolved as discreetly and appropriately as possible. The advocate(s) will not be obligated to report issues further. However, and with the consent of the aggrieved party(ies), concerns may be elevated to the Chair, IDEA committee (non-Title IX), university Ombudsperson, or other persons outside the department. As UNM faculty members, advocates are required to inform the Title IX Coordinator at the Office of Equal Opportunity ( of any report of gender discrimination which includes sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and/or sexual violence. 
If you wish to talk with a Graduate Advocate, please email one or both of the current committee members.

2023–2024 Biology Graduate Advocates

Dr. Helen Wearing, Biology (
Dr. Mike Andersen, Biology (