NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




Jim Chavez to lead NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory

Jim Chavez, a former vice president at Sandia National Laboratories, has been named director of New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory. He begins this week.


A photo of Jim Chavez.
Jim Chavez, a former vice president at Sandia National Laboratories, has been named director of New Mexico State University’s Physical Science Laboratory. (Courtesy photo)

“We are delighted to make this announcement,” said Lenny Martinez, NMSU’s chief of staff and director of the Office of Strategic Initiatives. “Jim has deep industry experience, a rich background in research and is very familiar with the many government agencies and companies that need the unique services NMSU and PSL can provide. We’re certain he will do an outstanding job leading this important university unit.”

As director, Chavez will manage PSL’s strategic direction, establish national defense and security policies and the staffing and compensation practices necessary to effectively compete for and deliver products and services in the areas of research and technology. Working with NMSU’s vice president for research, Chavez will help drive greater collaboration between PSL and NMSU faculty and staff. Additionally, he will work with the Chancellor’s Office of Strategic Initiatives to cultivate key strategic relationships.

“Jim has impressed all of us here on campus,” said Luis Cifuentes, NMSU’s vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. He is a great fit for us and we are very enthusiastic about his ability to bring fresh ideas as well as best practices and approaches to the organization.”

“I see great things in store for PSL,” Chavez said. “There are real opportunities for us to increase student engagement, where we can build capacity in our students, which gives them an advantage after they graduate while also benefiting the institution. We also have a change to expand our efforts in national security, homeland security and engage professors across the university to enhance our research apparatus.”

Chavez previously served as a director at Keystone International, providing global security consulting services for national laboratories, government agencies and groups. He was also responsible for building national security programs for Keystone.

Chavez also served as vice president for the Energy and Global Security Division and vice president of Global Security programs at Sandia National Laboratories. There, he was responsible for more than 1,300 employees and contractors and managed a diverse portfolio that included projects in global weapons of mass destruction security, energy technologies, weapon and force protection, critical asset protection, the nuclear fuel cycle, and geoscience and climate.

He has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from NMSU, and worked at PSL as a student. He also holds a master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley.