Day 8 (Saturday, July 31): Artesia to Hobbs, NM: The Ride is Heating Up! One week down and three to go.

In the Land of Oil Pumps

It was another beautiful day in eastern New Mexico. We left Artesia bright and early. As we started riding east leaving Artesia, the landscape became sprinkled with oil pumps as far as the eye could see—we also passed several large oil refineries. We saw some disturbing danger signs, such as “Danger: H2S Poison Gas May Be Present.”

A Disconcerting Sign

The overall conditions of the day made for a very pleasant ride. The air is heating up. After the first several days of cold and rain in Arizona and western New Mexico, the temperatures are creeping up (today’s high was 95°F in Hobbs, New Mexico).

A Sticker Added Each Day to the Van

Leprechaun Stickers on Greg's Helmet

We started a few new traditions during our ride. Every day we finish—meaning every leg of the trip we finish—we put an interlocked ND sticker on the window, identify the city, and then write one word to describe the day. Today’s word was “oil.” I also started putting a fighting Irish leprechaun sticker on my helmet after each leg of the ride. Tomorrow is a big day for us: it’s the first day of our second week riding, we cross into Texas, and we are expecting high, triple-digit temperatures.

Yesterday, I reflected on our “think big” approach. That’s not just a slogan—it’s what we really do. Funding that comes from outside of the University to support our research has reached a record level in the last year. We are leaders and collaborators in several internally funded strategic research initiatives (SRIs), including global health, biomedical imaging, the environment, energy, nano, and advanced diagnostics. These areas represent strategic directions for the college through investigation, cooperation and translation to the marketplace. We have exceptionally strong programs in nuclear, particle and astrophysics—we recently became the first site for a new nuclear accelerator funded by the federal government since the 1980s. We have strong programs in medicinal chemistry, rare and neglected diseases, and imaging. Our Land O’Lakes property has been chosen as a site for the National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). We have established partnerships with Indiana University, Indiana University School of Medicine, Purdue University, and IUPUI through the Indiana Clinical and Translational Science Institute (I-CTSI), where collaborative relationships will accelerate our basic science from the bench to the bedside. Our mathematics department has an exceptional program in logic and brings pure math fields together to form contemporary intersections of mathematics, such as differential geometry and topology. We also just established a new department of Applied and Computational Mathematics and Statistics (AMCS). With strong academic leadership in the Dome, we are ready—ready to dream big, ready for the next discovery, ready for the next invention, ready to address the big problems of our time.

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