Thursday, May 2, 2019
  Awards and Recognitions

By Melissa Vasquez

EDINBURG, TEXAS – Faculty members at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley were recognized, celebrated, and honored for their exceptional accomplishments during the annual Faculty Excellence Awards Thursday, May 2.

Held on the Edinburg Campus, the awards co-sponsored by various divisions/units across the university, highlights significant achievements of UTRGV’s faculty in the 2018 calendar year, and reflects their exceptional efforts and profound commitment to transform communities and the world through an innovative and accessible educational environment that promotes student success, research, creative works, health and well-being, community engagement, sustainable development, and commercialization of university discoveries.

The recipients of the 2019 UTRGV Faculty Excellence Awards in the areas of Teaching, Research, Service, Student Mentoring, Community Engaged Scholarship, and Sustainability Education, include the following:

  • Teaching (Non-Tenure-Track): Samantha Ramirez , lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Watch Video
  • Tenured/Tenure-Track: Sandra Musanti , associate professor, Department of Bilingual and Literacy Studies. Watch Video
  • Research: Gladys Maestre , professor, Department of Neuroscience. Watch Video
  • Service: Volker Quetschke , associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy. Watch Video
  • Service: Maria Trinidad , lecturer II, Department of Health and Human Performance. Watch Video
  • Student Mentoring: Thuy Vu , assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering, on May 2, 2019. Watch Video
  • Sustainability Education: Noe Vargas , assistant professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering. Watch Video
  • Community Engaged Scholarship: Sarah Rowe , assistant professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Watch Video

In addition, the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences received the 2018 Department Excellence Award in Faculty Mentoring for providing generous support for research, scholarly activities, and professional development.

The awards program also honored 30 UTRGV faculty members who were recognized in 2018, including two recipients of The University of Texas System Board of Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Awards, nine recipients of other major external awards and honors, seven faculty who authored and co-authored scholarly books, 12 faculty who were principal investigators on new major grants or other externally funded projects ($500,000 or more) in 2018.

A total of 126 faculty members were also mentioned for their promotions, eight faculty were recognized for their emeriti status, and six faculty who retired during this academic year were highlighted for their many years of service and contributions to UTRGV.


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.