This is your Friday Update, which takes a quick look at some developments that El Paso Matters is following.

UTEP Awarded $7.2 Million for Geosciences: The National Science Foundation recently awarded the University of Texas at El Paso $7.2 million to oversee a comprehensive and multi-tiered effort to improve how geosciences are taught, applied and perceived.

UTEP used the grant to create the Community-driven Inclusive Excellence and Leadership Opportunities in Geosciences program to prepare and better train Hispanics to enter the geological science field. Geoscience is the study of rocks, glaciers, earthquakes, the atmosphere, bodies of water and volcanic activity – and the things that affect them such as drought, climate, pollution and population growth. 

The grant will also be used to conduct research that will benefit the region, and will initially fund the research of six graduate students. For example, one project will measure the difference in solar light reflection between light- and dark-colored roofs in different parts of El Paso. The data could be used for future strategies to reduce outdoor air temperature and ease the “heat island effect,” where an urban area is significantly warmer than an adjacent rural area. 

El Paso Police Headquarters to be Renamed After Allen: The El Paso Police Department Headquarters will be renamed after Greg Allen, the late police chief who died unexpectedly in January. The El Paso City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved the renaming of the headquarters building at 911 N. Raynor Street. A renaming ceremony will be held at a later time. The City Council in early February approved allocating funds to establish a public art piece in memory of Allen as part of the city’s Public Art Plan. Details on what type of art piece will be commissioned or where it will be located are still being worked out. The first African American police chief in El Paso, Allen led the department for nearly 15 years before his death on Jan. 17. He was 71.

New Project Vida Health Clinic: Project Vida has begun construction on a new health clinic in the lower Dyer area. The clinic will be named after Rosario Fernandez, a longtime Project Vida staff member who pioneered the Microenterprise Technical Assistance Program based on the community health worker (promotora) model. The new clinic will be at 4304 Dyer Street, near the Cassidy Gate entrance to Fort Bliss. The 4,400-square-foot clinic will provide medical, behavioral health care management and health education services. It will include intake rooms, a laboratory, a vaccination room, seven exam rooms, three counseling and therapy rooms, and a health education classroom.

Daniel Perez covers higher education for El Paso Matters, in partnership with Open Campus. He has written on military and higher education issues in El Paso for more than 30 years.