eNews November 2022

Meet the Researcher, Ivette Guzmán, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University

Meet the Researcher, Ivette Guzmán, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University

By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator

Ivette Guzmán is an Associate Professor of Horticulture for the Plant and Environmental Sciences Department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Since joining NMSU in 2016, she has taught four courses, including Introductory Plant Science and Medicinal Herbs. Guzmán also advises undergraduate and graduate horticulture students and mentors them in their coursework and research projects. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Guzmán is currently the co-director of the National Institutes of Health Maximizing Access to Research Careers program at NMSU. This program encourages and supports undergraduates from underrepresented populations to participate in research and pursue research-related careers.

Guzmán is currently collaborating with the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) as a Co-PI on a USDA Organic Transitions grant titled, Expanding Organic Systems to Reduce Water Demand and Increase Agricultural Resilience in the Southwest project. This research project aims to identify agricultural and water resilience pathways for arid and semi-arid small farms and synthesize those understandings into an organic system planning toolkit. Guzmán will work with the grant team to reach farmers in southern New Mexico to find high-value crops for the region. Regarding future collaboration with the Institute, Guzmán hopes to continue her research with NM WRRI’s water scientists in studying regional and statewide water issues.

Guzmán’s previous research involved studying onions in New Mexico and their response to environmental stressors, such as drought or high-saline water sources. During this project, the goals of her experiment involved 1) understanding the impacts of stressors as mentioned above on the onion’s photosynthetic process, and 2) finding onion varieties that better manage such stressors. According to Guzmán, the most significant issues in her field of work include finding vegetable crops that can be grown in environments with high stress related to water quality and obtaining crop yields that have an increased nutritional and medicinal value to promote human health.

Guzmán received her BS and MS in Biology from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and Texas Woman’s University in Denton, respectively. Her PhD in Agronomy and Horticulture, with a focus on carotenogenesis for the production of pro-vitamin A in Capsicum annuum, was earned from NMSU. Guzmán states her motivation for becoming a researcher originated from her initial interest in pre-med-focused biology but later changed her academic path to food production and chemistry. Within this field, she strives to understand the best way to grow food in an ever-changing environment.

Guzmán plans to continue her research in plant physiology in response to environmental stress and expand her studies into monitoring food quality exposed to similar stresses. Aside from her research, Guzmán states, “I have many responsibilities in my role as Associate Professor of Horticulture, but my favorite responsibility is helping students develop their career goals and see them build self-confidence while gaining knowledge to achieve their goals. The best thing to hear from a student is that they no longer doubt they can achieve their dreams.”