December 13, 2023
Dr. Nelia Dunbar, director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and state geologist for New Mexico, will step down from that role on January 2, 2024. Dr. J. Michael Timmons, who has served as deputy director of the Bureau of Geology for the past seven years, will take over the top leadership position.
Dr. Dunbar, whose research specialty is volcanic rocks, will continue to be affiliated with the bureau part-time. In November 2023, the New Mexico Tech Board of Regents awarded her emerita status. In her new role, Dr. Dunbar will be involved in conducting research, including fieldwork in Antarctica, working in the electron microprobe laboratory, editing an outreach publication, and working on other projects that arise. She is also looking forward to spending more time farming in Lemitar with her husband, Bill, and doing more horseback riding, traveling, skiing, hiking, and gardening.
“I am very happy to be leaving bureau leadership in such good hands,” she said. “I look forward to many years of future involvement with the Bureau of Geology and NMT.”
Dr. Dunbar received her master’s and doctoral degrees in geology from New Mexico Tech, and has worked as a researcher at the bureau and adjunct faculty member in the Earth and Environmental Science Department at NMT. She has served as director of the Bureau of Geology since 2016, overseeing research and service activities for New Mexico’s state geological survey. From March 2022 to January 2023, she served as NMT’s interim vice president for research, while Dr. Timmons served as interim director of the Bureau of Geology.
Earlier this year, Dr. Dunbar received the 17th annual IMPACT! Award from the New Mexico Network for Women in Science and Engineering at its annual meeting in Albuquerque. The award is given each year to a New Mexico woman for her extraordinary efforts in encouraging and helping women enter and succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, as well as promoting networking and communication among women in these careers. Among other honors she has received during her career are the Geological Society of America’s Frye Award in 2023 and the New Mexico Tech Distinguished Research Award in 2021.
Dr. Timmons earned a bachelor of science in geology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a master’s and PhD in geology from the University of New Mexico. In addition to serving as deputy director of the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, he has also served as program manager of the bureau’s Geologic Mapping Program (STATEMAP).