Fellowship Opportunities


Research the fundamental scientific challenges of water sustainability while gaining leadership and professional development skills in this unique interdisciplinary experience. This 12-month (August 2021 – July 2022) commitment gives students hands-on experience
in water resource systems and models, culminating in the research and development of a dynamic simulation model of the Middle Rio Grande. Three undergraduate students are selected each year to work under the mentorship of a Water Resource Program graduate student.

Undergraduate students from any and all majors are eligible for this unique interdisciplinary opportunity to gain hands-on experience in water resource systems and models, culminating in the research and development of a dynamic simulation model of the Middle Rio Grande. Any undergraduate student who has an interest in water sustainability and/or research, is encouraged to consider applying.

Please check back next summer for information on how to apply. 




Our 2020-2021 fellowship cohort, which consisted of Sofia Jenkins-Nieto (BS candidate, Environmental Science, 2022), Atlin Johnson (BS candidate, Civil Engineering, 2022), and Yoko Kentilitisca (BS candidate, Population Health, 2021), were mentored by graduate student Sean O'Neill from the Water Resources program in developing a simulated game about the water resource issues in the Rio Grande. By combining their various disciplinary backgrounds with the knowledge they gained over the past year in their graduate-level courses, they have created an interactive game that integrates the sectors of water management, public health, and environmental justice to create more urban green spaces in an era of rapid climate change. The simulation is designed specifically for the Albuquerque area with the overall intent of promoting green spaces by planting trees using stormwater discharge that is not being actively used.





Anyone is invited to play the game and share your input with our 2021-2022 cohort of fellows to help them develop the project further. Follow the steps below or contact igray@unm.edu with any questions:

  1. Download the GoldSim player here 
  2. After you have downloaded the player, download TreeSim here. Use the video tutorial below to guide you through the game if you need help.
  3. Once you have played TreeSim, you may submit your feedback here






This fellowship is made possible by the Dr. Roger and Teri Jones Interdisciplinary Science Fund. An alumnus of the School of Engineering, Dr. Jones's passion for water sustainability combined with his curisoity for simulations models inspired this unique undergraduate experience. If you would like to join the Jones' in their pursuit to expose undergraduate students to research opportunities that will impact our communities, please consider making a gift to their fund





BA candidate, 2022  


Born in San Diego, California, Sadie Baca has lived near the water since she was born. From the Balboa Naval Base in California; to the Kipsack County Peninsula on the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard; to the Philadelphia South Naval Shipyard; Goose Creek, South Carolina; the Columbia River in Columbia, South Carolina; The New River in Jacksonville NC; OKC Boathouse River District; the El Paso Rio Grande River; and now the Griego's Lateral off the Bosque, water has long served as an inspiration for Sadie. Her deep respect for the river and her passion for ensuring its sustainability has led her to author research on the Middle Rio Grande as well as the nineteen Native American Pueblos that surround its borders. It has also led her to begin a new career dedicated to ensuring that the Southwest continues to benefit from this vital resource. 

As a pre-law student, Sadie plans on becoming a water rights lawyer to advocate for what she refers to as the Rio Grande’s, “life-giving waters”. In 2019, she was a recipient of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) PLUS program where she was given the opportunity to study the law program at the University of Alabama at the Culverhouse Jr. School of Law (now the University of Alabama School of Law). 




Nic Estrada

Political Science
BA candidate, 2022

For Nic Estrada, whose great-grandparents practiced subsistence farming in Northern New Mexico, learning about the importance that water had on his ancestors has become his driving force to ensuring that future generations continue to have access to this natural resource. Through internships at the City of Albuquerque’s Office of Civil Rights and Senator Ben Ray Lujan’s Washington, D.C. office, Nic has made significant strides in this goal, including working on a bill for Senators Lujan and Martin Heinrich that, if passed, will give the Gila River a Wild and Scenic River designation that will protect it for generations to come.

Nic hopes to apply the experiences he gains with this fellowship towards his future goal of becoming an environmental lawyer. Properly representing the groups and individuals he hopes to support is of vital importance because, “As a Latino and a native New Mexican, I understand the importance of integrating racial justice and diversity into the work I do…many New Mexicans depend on the Rio Grande to support their livelihoods and…the effects of climate change will be disproportionately felt by impoverished communities and communities of color.”






Isa Nellos

International Studies
BA candidate, 2022  

Isa’s deep connection to the earth is her driving motivation in pursuing a career in conservation. Born and raised in Albuquerque with the exception of six years of her childhood in Panama City, Panama, Isa’s family instilled a deep love of the outdoors within her that has become a large part of who she is. In addition to being fluent in English and Spanish, as well as being a highly disciplined student athlete, Isa has also worked for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and the Northwest Youth Corps, and interned for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance.

By participating in this fellowship, Isa hopes to gain an even broader understanding of water resource issues in New Mexico so that she can apply her knowledge to a future career in addressing conservation efforts in New Mexico, “water… plays a critical role in the future of New Mexican urban developments, as we continue to witness an increased amount of attraction and settlement in New Mexico…our ability to conserve water determines the survival of our local farmers and economy.”