Meet the Researcher, Michaela Buenemann, Associate Professor, New Mexico State University
By Jeanette Torres, NM WRRI Program Coordinator
In this edition of Meet the Researcher, we had the pleasure of interviewing Michaela Buenemann, an associate professor for the Department of Geography and co-director of the Spatial Applications Research Center (SpARC) at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She has taught at NMSU since 2008, first as an assistant professor, and has been in her current position since 2014. She teaches five classes throughout the year in addition to overseeing several funded research projects. A few of the courses she instructs include Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Advanced Remote Sensing, and Field Explorations in Geography. Buenemann also advises undergraduate and graduate students and plans to mentor three new students in the upcoming fall semester. She recently accepted an advisement role for Victoria Blumenberg, who was awarded a New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute (NM WRRI) Student Water Research Grant in 2019 for her project entitled, Stable Isotope Analysis to Determine the Usefulness of Surface Water as a Proxy for Precipitation in a Semi‐Arid, Mountainous Environment. According to Michaela, her ability to educate, advise, and mentor students are the most important aspects of her career alongside performing research, and providing service to her professional community.
Buenemann is currently working with her colleagues and students on two major projects funded by The Natural Resources Conservation Service. One has the end goal of automating the mapping of inactive acequias in addition to looking at relationships between acequia status, land cover change, and ecosystem service changes. She believes this project will lend itself to further collaboration with NM WRRI and possibly universities in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The other project will address mapping and monitoring of vegetation, hydrology, and human structures in mesquite-encroached rangelands. Michaela is also involved in a multi-team project funded by the National Institutes of Health entitled, Coordinating Research on Emerging Arboviral Threats Encompassing the Neotropics (CREATE-NEO). Buenemann states that her main role in this research is to map and model the risk of arbovirus spillover and spillback given the co-occurrence of susceptible hosts, competent mosquito vectors, and various human and environmental conditions.
Michaela earned a BA in Geography, with minors in Spanish Literature and Media Sciences from Paderborn University located in Paderborn, Germany (1999). Her PhD in Geography was completed at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma (2007). At the moment, Buenemann has two manuscripts in review, and coauthored four articles last year with her latest article being featured in Ecosphere (2021) entitled, Shifts in mosquito diversity and abundance along a gradient from oil palm plantations to conterminous forests in Borneo.
Michaela’s proficiency and knowledge of GIS and remote sensing has been a valuable asset to NM WRRI. She was the committee chair for NM WRRI research scientist associate Bob Sabie’s master thesis and is currently on his PhD committee. She works with Bob in collecting spectral data in the field with a spectroradiometer and a multispectral camera aboard an unoccupied aerial system. Buenemann also taught Marcus Gay, NM WRRI’s Senior Student Program Coordinator and recipient of NMSU’s ‘A’ Mountain Staff Award. Michaela has been involved in training many past NM WRRI GIS student employees who have all been able to find gainful employment in geography and water related positions. She believes her expertise in geographic information science and technology may be beneficial to some of the ongoing projects at NM WRRI, and looks forward to future opportunities to contribute to the Institute and form new collaborations.
Buenemann is currently chairing two master’s and two doctoral committees while serving as a member on 15 other committees in Biology, Water Science and Management, Geology, and other academic departments. She has delivered and contributed to over 95 presentations throughout her career and has peer-reviewed over 190 manuscripts and proposals for numerous journal entities.
Michaela has many optimistic plans for her career and future research. She hopes to continue mentoring and advising students to help them succeed in their professional lives, and continue making contributions in the areas of geographic information science and technology, land system science, and biogeography/landscape ecology with practical implications for sustainable land management, species conservation, and public health. By contributing to these fields, she believes she will be able to help enhance the intellectual understanding of such diverse topics that also have practical value for improving human and environmental well-being. Over the next few years, she will be fully engaged in her current projects while seeking additional funding to expand on her ongoing efforts. Buenemann states that she is always open to collaboration and anticipates becoming more acquainted with the individuals at NM WRRI and working with them to share complementary knowledge and skills.