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NMSU public health sciences professor earns White House environmental appointment

Thomas Ruiz, an adjunct professor in New Mexico State University's Department of Public Health Sciences, has been appointed by the White House to serve as special senior adviser to the regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency-Region 6.


A photo of NMSU adjunct professor Thomas Ruiz.
Thomas Ruiz, an adjunct professor in New Mexico State University's Department of Public Health Sciences, has been appointed by the White House to serve as special senior adviser to the regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency-Region 6.

"I was thrilled to receive this appointment," Ruiz said. "I can't say how happy I am for this opportunity. I think I bring a pretty good understanding of how to work with partners along the U.S./Mexico border in order to improve our shared environment."

Ruiz has worked in the area of environmental health for the state of New Mexico for more than 12 years, working primarily in the area of air quality. He currently teaches an environmental health course in NMSU's College of Health and Social Services, which covers air quality, climate change and population dynamics.

In his new position, Ruiz will be involved in the EPA's environmental justice initiatives. He will also focus on the EPA's border programs, which will take advantage of his knowledge of border health and environmental issues and his experience in working with environmental agencies on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

"Tom has been an outstanding adjunct faculty member for us," said Mark Kittleson, head of the Department of Public Health Sciences. "His expertise on environmental health has been critical for our program. As we know, New Mexico has some serious environmental health issues and Tom has done a great job preparing our students to deal with such concerns."

Ruiz will continue teaching his environmental health class online while serving in this new position.

"This past spring, Tom received a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 on his teaching evaluations," Kittleson said. "That shows his abilities and passion. Hardly anyone gets that kind of score when they have classes of 30 students or more."

The region Ruiz will cover includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. The current regional administrator is Ron Curry, former cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Environment Department.