Meet the Team

Director: Dr. Nancy McMillan

Nancy McMillan grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and attended New Mexico State University as an undergraduate.  Studying geology and Russian, she was given the opportunity to study the minerals in lava flows in the Organ Mountains for a senior thesis.  There was a day when she had collected data and plotted them up and asked her faculty mentor what it all meant.  He told her, “No one has ever seen those data….it’s up to you to figure out what it means.  So let’s take a look and think about it.”  That changed everything for her–that was the day she became a scientist.  Since then, she earned her BS Geology and BA Russian at NMSU, went on to earn a PhD in Geology from Southern Methodist University, and arrived at NMSU as a geology faculty member in 1989.  She is now a Regents Professor, Department Head of Geological Sciences, and passionate about undergraduate research and the Discovery Scholars Program. Contact:


Associate Director: Dr. Megan H. Papesh

Megan H. Papesh grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Baldwin-Wallace College for her bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University (not a copy-paste error: She and Dr. Hout were labmates).  She worked at Louisiana State University for 8 years before joining the Department of Psychology faculty at New Mexico State University. Her research explores basic and applied questions in cognition and cognitive neuroscience, including the dynamic modulation of attention, how people learn and remember, and the challenges of face perception/recognition. Megan uses multiple methods in her research, such as behavioral responding, mouse-tracking, eye-tracking, pupillometry, and (with external collaborators) single-cell neural recording. Since earning her PhD, Megan’s research and teaching efforts have been recognized in several ways, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, early career rainmaker award, and several undergraduate teaching awards. Outside of academic pursuits, she enjoys spoiling her dog, hiking, and cooking. Contact:


Associate Director: Dr. Michael C. Hout  (On leave from August 2020 – July 2022)

Michael C. Hout grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pittsburgh for his bachelor’s degree before moving to Tempe, Arizona to get a master’s and PhD at Arizona State University.  He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at New Mexico State University, and an Associate Editor at the journal Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics. His research focuses primarily on visual cognition (including visual search, attention, eye movements, and memory) and the development of alternative methods of collecting similarity data for use in multi-dimensional scaling. He has won several awards for research and teaching, including the Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, and currently engages in outside consulting for organizations such as Major League Baseball. In his limited free time, he enjoys walking his dogs, running, hiking, playing hockey, and cycling.  He will be on leave until 2022 while he works as a Program Director for the Perception, Action, and Cognition program at the National Science Foundation.  During that time, he will not be quite as involved as he was previously, but he will continue to help out the DSP whenever and wherever he can.