Friday, August 12, 2022
  Around Campus

By Victoria Brito Morales

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Cristina Villalobos, a Myles and Sylvia Aaronson Endowed professor in the UTRGV School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, associate dean for the College of Sciences and founding director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education, was honored by Congressman Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) for her 2020 recognition from the White House.

Two years ago, Villalobos was awarded the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM). She was one of 15 higher education recipients from 12 states and the District of Colombia.

On Wednesday, Javier Bustos, constituent field representative of Congressman Vicente Gonzalez, visited the UTRGV campus in Edinburg, on behalf of Gonzalez, and presented Villalobos with a certificate and a United States flag which was previously flown over the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C.

Villalobos said she is honored to be recognized for her leadership in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and to also receive such a significant artifact from the capital.

“It was quite a surprise to learn that the flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in recognition of my efforts in mentoring that led to the PAESMEM award,” Villalobos said. “Mentoring students and faculty in mathematics and in general STEM fields is important to me as these individuals will lead the nation, our state and our local communities.”

The PAESMEM award is one of the nation’s highest honors and recognizes the critical role mentors play outside the traditional classroom setting in the academic and professional development in the future of a STEM workforce. Mentors support learners ranging from kindergarten through college, as well as those who recently started their careers in STEM.

“I want to congratulate Dr. Villalobos on this amazing accomplishment,” Gonzalez said. “Her dedication to serving our students and preparing our next generation of STEM leaders at UTRGV is inspiring to all of South Texas.”


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.