New Mexico Art Tells its History

History: Science and Technology

The Defense Industry

Since 1945, New Mexico has been a leader in energy research and development with extensive experiments conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Sandia Laboratories in the nuclear, solar, and geothermal areas.

Brixner - First Atomic Explosion at a Distance of About Five Miles, Trinity Site, New MexicoLos Alamos Laboratory, known as Project Y, was conceived during the early part of World War II. The United States wanted to build an atomic explosive to counter the threat posed by the German nuclear development program; the laboratory developed out of this vision. Since its creation, the primary responsibility of the laboratory has been to maintain the effectiveness of the nation’s nuclear deterrent. Though the world is rapidly changing, this essential responsibility remains the core mission of the laboratory.

On its website, LANL is described as “one of the world’s leading research institutions…with laboratory personnel working on advanced technologies to meet the needs of the 21st century such as hydrogen fuel cell development, super computing, and applied environmental research.”  LANL has done this repeatedly, starting with the WW II Manhattan Project, and continuing with the Human Genome Project, the Stockpile Stewardship Program, and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.

The roots of Sandia National Laboratories also lie in WW II’s Manhattan Project, and its history reflects the changing national security needs of postwar America. In 1993, Martin Marietta took over Sandia’s management contract and two years later merged with Lockheed to become Lockheed Martin.

Sandia’s original emphasis on ordnance engineering – turning the nuclear physics packages created by Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories into deployable weapons – expanded into new areas as national security requirements changed. In addition to ensuring the safety and reliability of the stockpile, Sandia applied the expertise it acquired in weapons work to a variety of related areas such as energy research, supercomputing, treaty verification, and nonproliferation.

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Sandia Laboratory


Central New Mexico’s history in Bioscience development is lengthy, from early research in respiratory disease in the late 1800s, to a modern command of computational biology. The local industry is greatly linked to the activities of local research institutions, as substantial Federal investment dominates the activity landscape. However, a number of innovative companies have developed their own intellectual property and cultivated niche markets in areas outside of Central New Mexico’s acknowledged institutional competencies.

Albuquerque boasts a seasoned bioscience cluster of more than 100 companies that produce everything from surgical supplies to non-invasive glucose testing devices for diabetics. Major commercial players here are Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon Endosurgery, which manufactures surgical products, and Cardinal Health, which provides medication management systems to hospitals, and which acquired homegrown SP Pharmaceuticals in 2001. Many of the city’s bioscience companies are small and some are spin-offs from Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico.

New Mexico is home to a variety of additional bioscience organizations and companies:

  • The National Center for Genome Resources in Santa Fe is a non-profit research institution dedicated to improving human health and nutrition through collaborative research at the intersection of Bioscience, computing and mathematics. Their vision is to pioneer the use of software and computation to improve treatment of diseases and nutrition.
  • Founded in 1947, the Lovelace Respiratory Institute is a private biomedical research institute dedicated to the reduction of the nation’s substantial respiratory health burden. Lovelace respiratory research facility has extensive capabilities in a number of research areas: asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, inhalation toxicology, aerosol inhalation drug delivery, bronchitis, and allergies. The Institute brings a broad range of research capabilities and research alliances to bear on respiratory health issues of concern to government, industry, universities, health advocacy organizations, and the public. They are committed to the cure of respiratory diseases through research aimed at understanding their causes and biological mechanisms, eliminating exposures to causal agents, and developing improved treatments.
  • University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center includes a medical school, colleges of nursing and pharmacy, four hospitals and the Cancer Research and Treatment Center. The Health Sciences Center can gather data and understand impacts with relative ease because it has a repository of data on entire populations of patients and access to high-performance parallel computing.
  • The Santa Fe Institute is a private, not-for-profit, independent research and education center, founded in 1984, that is focused upon a multi-disciplinary approach to research in the physical, biological, computational, and social sciences. The Institute’s focus on understanding complex adaptive systems is critical to addressing key environmental, technological, biological, economic, and political challenges. Renowned scientists and researchers come to Santa Fe Institute from universities, government agencies, research institutes, and private industry to collaborate in attempts to uncover the mechanisms that underlie the deep simplicity present in our complex world.
  • Biomedical Research Institute of New Mexico is a full service institution that exists to support Veterans Administration research programs to promote advances in medical diagnosis and treatment through research.
  • Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest was established in 1997 to conduct research on substance abuse and other behavioral health issues. A major research focus is the impact of cultural factors on substance use and abuse.

The National Center for Genome Resources

Lovelace Respiratory Institute

University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center

Sandia National Laboratories

The Santa Fe Institute

Biomedical Research Institute of New Mexico

Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest

Green Economy

New Mexico is rapidly becoming a global leader in pure energy innovation. Abundant renewable energy resources, world-class clean technology research and manufacturing, attractive incentives, low business costs, and visionary state, federal and local government leadership are drawing international attention.

The state’s “Technology 21” is an eighteen-month collaborative plan that details ways in which the state can create high-wage tech jobs and business growth, according to the New Mexico Office of Science and Technology. The plan outlines five industries to target: aerospace, bioscience, energy/environment/water, information technology and nanotechnology, which are the five core areas of New Mexico’s particular strengths.

The New Mexico Wind Energy Center, the state’s most ambitious renewable energy project, officially went online in 2003. The center is the seventh-largest wind generation project in the United States. Located 170 miles southeast of Albuquerque and 20 miles northeast of Fort Sumner, the wind center is perfectly suited for eastern New Mexico’s windy landscape. Power production does not require water, produce emissions or general solid waste.

The New Mexico Wind Energy Center

Area Development on Line



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