Welcome to this work by Vince Gutschick and Lou Ellen Kay on behalf of the Las Cruces Academy, the non-profit private school that they operate in Mesilla, NM, USA.  We’re sharing what has illuminated our lives as teachers, scientific researchers, parents, and travelers.

Quick note on searching: The search widget at the top gets you to a page or pages.  One in a page, use Ctrl-f to search for the precise location.

Vince’s page  delves deeply into what makes any planet habitable, an exoplanet or our own Earth.  There is a striking array of conditions that Earth luckily met – conditions drawn from physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and geology.  The conditions greatly limit the odds for life elsewhere – likely it exists somewhere, if nowhere close.  They inform us about the origins of Earth’s habitability and about what’s needed to preserve it.  The initial content here is an e-book, of sorts (as a webpage with links being made). The exposition is a work in progress. It represents 7 years of research and writing, following decades of learning by experience in research in chemical physics, plant physiology, ecology, and applied fields of agronomy, remote sensing, climate change, and micrometeorology.


 Our travel page  celebrates the wonder, the adventure, the diverse people we met and their cultures and history, in our 43 years of travel to 41 nations on 6 continents.   We explain, to ourselves as much as to you, how we got the travel bug.  We lay out how we end up with new places to go (or “old,” but every revisit is truly new), how we prepare over months of enjoyment, and how we get there, get around, and get back.  Our son, David, has been traveling with us from age 3 months and has ever had the travel bug.  His wife, Yi, made her first trip out her native China to attend the Ohio State University for Ph. D. studies, where she met David.  She, too, is now an avid traveler.  We four all see the world unfold in the light of our backgrounds in science and engineering, melded with pervasive interests in art, history, and the great range of cultures.  We thank all the friends we made over these years.  We bring what we’ve come to know to our students at the Las Cruces Academy.


Vince Gutschick is a career scientist and teacher, from Notre Dame, Caltech, Berkeley, Yale, Los Alamos labs, and New Mexico State U, with postings in France, Australia, and Germany, plus the National Science Foundation.  In formal retirement, he works as Board Chair, financial manager, publicist, and teacher at the Las Cruces Academy, a non-profit Early K-8 private school serving talented and motivated students who are underserved in other schools.  This website is an outreach activity for the LCA, hence, the site name. Vince is an avid photographer, gone digital for 15 years while still scanning selections of 40,000 slides.

Lou Ellen Kay is a career scientist and teacher, from Colorado State University, Los Alamos labs, and New Mexico State U, with postings in Australia and at the Smithsonian Institution. Even before formally retiring from the university, she founded the Las Cruces Academy with her funds, her background in learning and teaching, and her vision of educating young people who can help lead us through the huge challenges of environmental problems.  She brought in Vince, their son, David, many friends, and fine teachers to build the school.  She is the Head of School ($1 a year!) and teacher. She also pursues photography of school activities and travel experiences.

The LCA does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, physical disability, or sexual orientation

The Las Cruces Academy is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

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