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.