top of page

Principle Investigator: Margie Vela, PhD

Dr. Margie Vela is the Principle Investigator and Project Director for the Water and People Project. The major study for this project was funded by Dr. Vela's  USDA NIFA Pre-doctoral Fellowship. As PI and Project Director, she developed relationships with teachers and administrators in high school; trained high school students for the project; conducted Youth Participatory Action Research; analyzed data; mentored undergraduate/dual credit student researchers; prepared her mentees for national presentations; presented the work at various national and regional conferences, including the APLU Regional Director's Meeting for Workforce Development; and co-published several manuscripts as first author, along with her mentees.  Dr. Vela completed her PhD in August 2019.



UndergraduateResearchers & Co-Authors

Sarah Lind_edited.png

Sarah Lind

Sarah Lind is a freshman at New Mexico State University double majoring in Biology and Genetics and Biotechnology. She is currently running DNA extractions in a lab under Dr. Bailey at NMSU while serving a term as membership secretary for NMSU’s chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).


In high school, she completed 88 credits of duel credit work while participating in FIRST robotics and National Honors Society, and running the statistical analysis for publications with the Water and People Project.

In the future, Sarah hopes to earn a PHD in molecular genetics and study new advancements and applications of gene therapy to improve people's lives.

Riva Silver.png

Riva Silver is a co-author on "Using Photovoice to Explore the Pathway Model Connecting Water and Education for Youth Living in the Colonias of the U.S.-Mexico Border." She worked to describe, in depth, the model which connects lack of water access to several types of relevant capital and its subsequent effect on highschool graduation rates within West Texas Colonias. In addition, Ms. Silver will present her work at the 2019 annual SACNAS conference.


Ms. Silver hopes her present and future work will translate into science communication and education, as well as directly contribute towards real-world change.

Riva Silver

Elijah Vela_edited.png

Elijah Vela

Elijah is a freshman at Stanford University, planning to major in computer science with a focus on data science and cybersecurity. In high school, he was the Controls and Systems Captain of his FIRST Robotics Competition team, where he wrote robot code, mentored younger programmers, and designed the control and feedback systems for the team’s robot. 


Elijah also held a position as an undergraduate mentoring assistant with the Verizon Innovative Learning Program. During monthly workshops, he aided in lessons designed to get middle-school, Hispanic boys interested in technology. During the week, he would design lessons for these monthly workshops. He also designed curricula for the CS Adventures summer program, aimed at giving middle school and high school students experience in computer science.


In addition, he is an SCS Noonan Scholar and participated in the SCS Noonan Summer Academy both junior and senior summer. He and 60 other first-generation and low-income students lived on college campuses for six weeks; took college-level writing and math classes; and received college-application, college-success, and career-success mentoring.

Overseeing Advisor: Paul Gutierrez, PhD


Dr. Paul Gutierrez is the overseeing advisor for the Water and People Project.

bottom of page