Monday, December 26, 2022

By News and Internal Communications

By Maria Gonzalez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Dr. Cristina Villalobos, Myles and Sylvia Aaronson endowed professor in the  UTRGV School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences and associate dean for the  College of Sciences, has been elected Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) “for contributions to modelling and optimization and for broadening the participation of underrepresented groups in mathematics.”

She becomes the first UTRGV faculty member to be named an AMS fellow.

“It is an honor to have been elected as a Fellow of the AMS,” Villalobos said. “It shows that the professional mathematics society values research and contributions to service, community engagement and mentoring of students and faculty to broaden the participation of groups in mathematics.”

Villalobos, a first-generation college student and a much-lauded UTRGV professor, is founding director of the Center of Excellence in STEM Education at UTRGV. Her research interests are optimization, optimal control, and modelling, and she conducts research in interdisciplinary fields, such as computer science, engineering and mathematical biology, through collaboration with colleagues.

The international accolade places Villalobos among the world’s outstanding mathematicians for her contribution to modelling and optimization and her extraordinary contributions to increasing the participation of underserved groups in the sciences.

“Part of my initiative is to prepare students in mathematics and other STEM fields to become leaders, to sit at the table to make decisions and changes,” Villalobos said. “Given that we are a Hispanic-Serving Institution, we can certainly make a big impact in preparing students of all backgrounds, especially women and Latino students,” she said.   

Fellows of the AMS have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.

“It is an honor to welcome a new class of AMS Fellows and to congratulate them for their notable contributions to mathematics research and service to the profession,” said AMS President Ruth Charney. “We extend our thanks to the nominators and members of the selection committee for their help in highlighting the outstanding achievements of their colleagues.”

Dr. Timothy Huber, director of the UTRGV School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, commended Villalobos’ distinguished research in the field of mathematics and the work she has done to broaden participation in mathematics, both at UTRGV and nationally.

“This is a significant lifetime achievement. The award highlights the contributions Dr. Villalobos has made to the fields of mathematical modelling and optimization and recognizes her exemplary mentoring,” Huber said.

Villalobos is widely recognized as a leading mathematician with more than 15 years of experience teaching mathematics in higher education. The AMS appointment adds to her extensive list of honors and accolades, including the 2020 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), where she was recognized as one of 15 higher education recipients from 12 states and the District of Colombia, and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Presidential Service Award.

View the names, institutions, and citations of the full Class of 2023 Fellows, here.


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.