The UNM Sigma Xi Chapter announces the winners of its Excellence Awards competition for 2016. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, is a global honor society of scientists and engineers with a mission to enhance the health of research enterprise, foster integrity in science, and promote understanding of the role of science in improving the quality of life for humans. With its proud traditions and extensive Chapter network (~500 Chapters worldwide), Sigma Xi is a positive force in research community locally, nationally, and internationally.  Induction into Sigma Xi has been a milestone in many distinguished research careers, including those of nearly 200 Nobel laureates initiated into Sigma Xi while they were still graduate students.

UNM Chapter is dedicated to furthering the goals of Sigma Xi in the Albuquerque area. It recognizes individuals in our community who excel in science and engineering research and teaching. For more than 30 years the Chapter has co-sponsored a Distinguished Lecture Series on Science & Society themes to inform New Mexicans about important science issues of the day that impact their lives. In continuing collaboration with the Albuquerque Section of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the following individuals are declared winners of the 2016 Excellence Awards competition in several categories; IEEE is the largest professional organization in the world with ~ 400,000 members, 300 local Sections and 1,150 Chapters in 10 Regions worldwide.

A) 2016 Junior Division Finalists at the Central New Mexico Science & Engineering Challenge

  • Katelyn Detweiler, Edgewood Middle School, Animal Sciences
  • Safa Kassem, Salaam Academy, Behavioral & Social Sciences
  • Sera Saavedra, Hope Christian School, Biology & Microbiology
  • David Stotzer, Annunciation Middle School, Chemistry
  • Charles Rice, Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science, Computer Science
  • Calvin Succi, St. Thomas Aquinas School, Earth & Environmental Sciences
  • Kaeli Benavidez, Hope Christian School, Engineering
  • Ana Maria Perez, Albuquerque Academy, Mathematical Sciences
  • Isaiah Sanchez, St Mary School, Medicine & Health Sciences
  • Samuel Chackerian, Jefferson Middle School, Physics & Astronomy
  • Cole Romig, Jefferson Middle School, Plant Sciences
  • Adittyo Paul, Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science, Energy & Transportation

B) 2016 Finalists for the INTEL International Science & Engineering Fair, Phoenix, AZ

  • Lien Tang, Manzano High School
  • Rusty Ludwigsen, Early College Academy
  • Rebecca Pattichis, Albuquerque Institute of Math & Science

 C) 2016 Outstanding Science/Math Teacher

  • Dan Shaw, Bosque High School; Nominator: Audrey Kruse/Timothy Thomas

 D) 2016 Superior Undergraduate Student

  • Ahmed Elshafiey, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Nominator: Salvador Portillo

 E) 2016 Excellence in Graduate Research

  • Elisa Borowski, Civil Engineering; Nominator: Mahmoud Taha
  • Stephen Machuzak, Electrical & Computer Engineering; Nominator: Sudharman Jayaweera

 F) 2016 IEEE Albuquerque Section Contest Winners at SW Area Spring Meeting.

  • No award this year.

 G) 2016 IEEE Albuquerque Section Outstanding Engineering Educator

  • No award this year.

H) 2016 Sewa Singh & Jaswant Kaur Memorial Presidential Schora

  • Alex Johnson, College of Arts & Sciences; Sponsor: Harjit Ahluwalia

I) 2016 IEEE Presidential Scholar

  • Matt McCullough, Electrical & Computer Engineering: Sponsor: Gilberto Zamora

J) 2016 IEEE Albuquerque Section Outstanding Entrepreneur 

  • Murat Okandan, CEO: mPower Technology Inc; Nominator: Vipan Prakash Gupta

 K) 2016 IEEE Albuquerque Section Outstanding Young Engineer

  • Jay Johnson, Sandia National Laboratories; Nominator: Jason Neely
  • Derek Lamppa, Sandia National Laboratories; Nominator: Ryan McBride

L) 2016 Albuquerque Section IEEE Fellows

  • None this year.

M) 2016 Sigma Xi Outstanding Young Investigator

  • No award this year

N) 2016 Sigma Xi Noteworthy Technical Support Person

  • Gary Harrison, Physics & Astronomy; Nominator: Wolfgang Rudolph
  • David Taylor, Consulting Geologist; Nominator: Michael Jackovich

O) Banquet Talk

  • ‘Sleep: The Pattern of Life,’ June J. Pilcher, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC.

 P) Initiation of New Sigma Xi Members


The Central New Mexico Science & Engineering Research Challenge awardees in the Junior Division and ISEF finalists were feted on Thursday, 28 April 2016 at the EXPLORA (near the Museum of Natural History and Science). Others named above will be honored at the Annual Awards Banquet held jointly with IEEE Albuquerque Section on Monday, 16 May 2016 at the Delish Restaurant*, Ellison Rd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87114 (located near Ellison & Alameda in the Barnes & Noble Shopping Ctr, Tel: 505-899-0197). On this occasion, the Chapter will induct new Members into Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Further information may be obtained from Professor H. S. Ahluwalia, Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-1156; Tel: 277-2941, Fax: 277-1520, e-mail:

Dinner tickets are $25 if paid in advance, $30 if paid at the door; current Board members pay $20 each, student members eat free. Dinner is complimentary to past Chapter Chairs, the Awardees (+ their nominators) and their significant others. Please make reservations by 11 May 2016 at: Banquet Registration Link

The link for Banquet reservation and menu selection was mailed to the members and sponsors. Please plan on joining us for this memorable event!


*Note the change this year (only) of the location of the Awards Banquet. To get there take the Alameda Blvd west until you hit the Ellison Road, go past it and make the first left turn into the shopping center. At the STOP sign turn right and you will see the Delish Restaurant to your right.