New Mexico State University is New Mexico's land-grant institution and, as such, has a mission to serve all the citizens and to improve their lives through research and service activities that respond to their needs. Our research programs range from fundamental scientific discoveries in such fields as genomics and nanoscience to applications that have significant implications for changing the lives of New Mexicans as well as citizens of the world. For example, the work of an NMSU nanophysicist has resulted in improving the efficiency of organic solar cells and thereby providing a more cost-effective alternative to silicon based solar cells. In the field of agriculture, NMSU has spawned drought-resistant turf grass used in sports facilities throughout the country. NMSU researchers have literally saved lives through the development of a device to jam the electronic signals used to set off improvised explosive devices, which have claimed so many lives in Iraq.
Through these and many other research developments, NMSU has progressively increased its external funding from federal, state and private agencies. In fiscal year 2010, NMSU's external awards totaled more than $198.5 million, a 28% increase over FY 2009. Research expenditures were also at an all-time high at $167 million. NMSU consistently ranks in the top 110 institutions in the nation by research expenditures. In addition, its programs in agriculture, chemistry, computer sciences, engineering, and physical sciences are highly ranked by the same criterion.
Research and graduate education are inextricably linked. At NMSU, we are committed to providing outstanding graduate education opportunities for students both on- and off-campus. We are striving to significantly increase mentored research experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students, to improve our research labs and facilities, and to support interdisciplinary research collaborations across colleges and research units. This year, through resources of the Research Office, we have continued our commitment to our programs to provide undergraduate and graduate research assistantships beyond those routinely provided by externally funded programs.
NMSU's graduate student body represents over 80 different countries and every state in the nation. We believe that our graduate student body brings cultural diversity and talents that are invaluable to our research and service missions. NMSU takes pride in serving those who have traditionally been underrepresented in the scientific fields, including Hispanics, Native Americans, women, and African Americans and is recognized as an Hispanic Serving Institution. NMSU currently operates 16 different federal, state, or privately funded programs to increase participation of underrepresented students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.
By working closely with the Arrowhead Center, the Office of the Vice President for Research is ensuring that faculty and student researchers are aware of the opportunities for commercialization at an early stage in their careers and that no opportunity for technology transfer and economic benefit to the state is overlooked. Recent commercialization ventures include a chile pepper harvester that helps make New Mexico's chile industry competitive with that in less industrialized countries where manual labor is cheaper. Another spin-off of NMSU's research enterprise is the Genetic Testing Laboratory, which provides services to clients from across the country.
In sum, we welcome you to our research website and hope you will gain valuable knowledge from the information posted here. Whether you are a prospective student, researcher, or community member, we invite you to come back and visit us again. We assure you that you will find stories of new discoveries and frontiers each time you return. Thank you for your interest and support.