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Jorge Lopez, University of Texas at El Paso

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

Dr. Jorge Lopez is a full Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Dr. Lopez attended high school in Juarez, Mexico and subsequently received his doctoral degree from Texas A&M University. For 23 years, he has been a mentor to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the greater El Paso area. He believes that mentoring can enable individuals to succeed in their chosen careers and make substantial contributions to their communities and society at large. His mentoring strategies and programs are designed to tackle the challenges for UTEP (a commuter school in a bicultural, bilingual, and binational community), and are intended to reach the Hispanic population in the Texas-Mexico border region and ensure students in this area have access to a Hispanic role model.

At UTEP, he has mentored 32 undergraduate and 26 graduate students in his research laboratory (12 of whom have earned the Ph.D.) Fourteen of the graduate students are in academic positions in colleges and universities, and six work in industry. He has mentored an additional 24 undergraduate science and engineering students through the Peer Led Team Learning program that he started at UTEP in 2008. This program provides students with research experiences, apprenticeships, and workshops on new methods of constructivist learning and inquiry-based teaching. These undergraduate peer leaders have influenced the undergraduate work of thousands of students at UTEP. As a result of his combined efforts, 72 percent of all the undergraduates he has mentored have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in STEM. His Master's-level students are engaged in science and engineering careers; 54 percent of them are working in academia, and 23 percent are working in industry. More than half of the Master's-level students have begun Ph.D. programs.

The focus of his outreach programs are local high schools on both sides of the border given the sizable population of U.S. citizens who live and attend high school in Mexico. With funding from federal and academic sources, Dr. Lopez has designed and implemented seven major outreach and curriculum enhancement projects that have influenced the intellectual and social development of over 5,000 high school and undergraduate students between 1993 and 2013. His research, educational and mentoring programs have been supported by federal grants from the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Lopez has also demonstrated a commitment to increasing the diversity of faculty in the Physics Department at UTEP where he served as its Chair from 2001 to 2008. He reconstructed the department and hired 11 new faculty, increasing the number of Hispanics and women in the department. His impact extends to the national level through his leadership in the American Physical Society (APS) and his work in 1996 to establish the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) in order to build the national Latino physicist community. He served as the President of NSHP in 2003 and was elected a fellow of the APS in 2007. He was recognized as an Educator of the Year by the Society of Mexican-American Engineers and Scientists in 2011.