Maria Cristina Villalobos

University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Edinburg, TX | 2020

Maria Cristina Villalobos Portrait Photo

I am honored to receive the PAESMEM award as it is a testament to the mentoring activities that have provided opportunities to further the academic and professional careers of STEM college students along with increasing STEM literacy and awareness of K–12 students and the local community. These activities have resulted in diversifying the STEM landscape and workforce in academia, government, and industry. I hope to continue preparing students to 'take the initiative'.

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.

María "Cristina" Villalobos holds the Myles and Sylvia Aaronson endowed professorship at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and has over 18 years of experience teaching in higher education. She is a faculty member in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Associate Dean in the College of Sciences, and is the Founding Director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education, whose goal is to increase the numbers of underrepresented students attaining STEM degrees. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) serves a majority-minority Latino population. As such, the Center impacts 4,000+ K–12 students annually through hands-on activities and provides academic and professional development workshops to college students to better prepare them for STEM graduate careers. Cristina’s impact has resulted in 160+ students attending summer research programs. She has prepared Latino students for Ph.D. mathematics programs with seven receiving Ph.D.s and eight in the pipeline. Cristina served on the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Board of Directors and was a member of The National Academies committee which published the 2018 report “Minority Serving Institutions: America’s Underutilized Resource for Strengthening the STEM Workforce”. Cristina was born in the RGV, is a first-generation college graduate, and received a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Texas–Austin and a Ph.D. in computational and applied mathematics from Rice University. She is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and Alfred P. Sloan Scholar. Her honors include the 2019 Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science, and Diversifying Computing, and a 2013 University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.