A Brief History of the NMAS and AAAS Affiliation

The New Mexico Academy of Science had its origins in 1902 as an outgrowth of the Science and Math Section of the “New Mexico Educational Association.” Charter members of the NMEA came from UNM, NMA&M (now NMSU), NM School of Mines (now NM Tech), NM Normal University (now NM Highlands University), NM Normal School (now Western NM University), and the public school systems of East Las Vegas, Springer, Raton, Socorro, and Clayton.

In November of 1914, after years of operation as a section of the New Mexico Educational Association, organizers met at a dinner held at the old Alvarado Hotel in Albuquerque. They renamed the Science and Math Section of the NMEA the “New Mexico Association for Science.” This was eventually renamed: “The New Mexico Academy of Science.”

In 1927, an Academy Conference was authorized by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, founded in 1848) to serve as a standing committee on relations among the affiliated academies and the AAAS. The Academy Conference met for the first time at the 1928 New York Annual Meeting of the AAAS, and it has presented programs at subsequent Annual Meetings. In 1969, the name of the Academy Conference was changed to Association of Academies of Science (AAAS) and again in 1979 to the National Association of Academies of Science (NAAS). The governing body of the NAAS is composed of two representatives from each of the 47 member academies. In turn, the NAAS names two delegates to the AAAS Council.

The NAAS, financed by allotments from its member academies, keeps the academies informed of each other’s activities and assists new academies to organize. The NAAS has a strong interest in the works of junior and collegiate academies of science and in encouraging young people interested in science. American Junior Academy of Science (AJAS) is the program agency of NAAS. The AJAS is composed of directors and representatives from all existing Junior Academies of Science from within member academies. The AJAS Director is a member of the NAAS Board of Directors and he/she plans in advance and conducts joint annual meetings with the President and President-Elect of the NAAS.

At each AAAS Annual Meeting, the member academies send student representatives of their junior academies to make written and oral presentations of scientific papers to the senior scientists from all over the world as part of the program of the AJAS and NAAS.

Active participation of New Mexico Academy of Science (NMAS) with AAAS and NAAS began in 1960. The late Dr. Lora Magnum Shields* served as the NMAS representative to NAAS from 1960 to 1984. She was the first New Mexican to serve as the president of the NAAS, installed at the Boston Annual Meeting in 1976. Dr. David Hsi** succeeded Dr. Shields as NMAS representative to NAAS from 1984 to 2004. He became the second New Mexican to serve as the NAAS president being installed at the San Francisco Annual Meeting in 1994. It is important that NMAS and NMJAS continue close affiliation with the NAAS, AJAS and AAAS so that we shall continue receiving national attention through these internationally recognized and respected scientific organizations.

Click here to read about the first 50 years of NMAS history.  Download – First 50 Years of NMAS History (warning – 68 MB scanned file)

*Dr. Shields was long time head of the Biology Department of the NM Highlands University. Over a span a 50 years and at different time , she served as science teacher for public schools, NM Tech, Navajo Community College. She was the Secretary-Treasurer for NMAS from 1951 to 1953, NMAS President in 1954 and Editor of the NM Journal of Science for many years. She received the Distinguished Scientist Award from NMAS in 1965. She was one of the most dedicated and respected science educator and administrator in New Mexico and the world.

** Dr. Hsi spent his career as a Plant Pathologist of the New Mexico State University from 1952 to 1992, first at the Agricultural Science Center in Clovis from 1952 to 1979, then at the Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center from 1979 to 1992. He received the Distinguished Research Award in 1971 and the Distinguished Service Award in 1985 from College of Agriculture and Home Economics. He retired in 1992 as Professor Emeritus of NM State University.