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Lopez honored for work with underrepresented minority students

Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) will award UT Arlington physics professor Ramon Lopez its 2010 Distinguished Scientist Award, the group announced last week. He was one of five honorees from across the country recognized for their "exemplary scientific achievement, teaching, and mentorship of underrepresented minority students."

Lopez leads a research group that focuses on both space physics and science education. He has long worked to draw more students into science and technology fields, with a particular connection to Hispanic American youth.

"That community is underrepresented in science for a whole host of reasons," Lopez said. "If the United States as a country is going to maintain a strong technology-based society we are going to have to, in the future, draw from groups that have not traditionally gone on to science careers."

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Lopez is also the co-director of UTeach Arlington, a local version of the highly successful UT Austin program being launched at UT Arlington this fall. UTeach is aimed at increasing the number of science and math teachers UT Arlington graduates and improving the quality of the education they receive.

Lopez is also co-principal investigator for Arlington Undergraduate Research-based Achievement for STEM, or AURAS. That program, which is Ramon Lopezfunded by nearly $2 million from the National Science Foundation, has teamed faculty from the Colleges of Science and Engineering to address retention rates for first- and second-year students.

Lopez is a fellow of the American Physical Society and served as director of education and outreach for that organization from 1994-99. He also chaired the APS forum on education in 2005. He is the author or coauthor of more than 120 publications, including the book "Storms from the Sun." He was awarded the Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service by the American Physical Society in 2002.

Lopez joined UT Arlington in 2007. Prior to that, he was a professor of physics at the Florida Institute of Technology from 2004-07; professor of physics at UT El Paso from 1999-2004; and research associate and associate research scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland at College Park from 1992-99. He received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Illinois in 1980, an M.S. in Space Physics from Rice University in 1984 and a Ph.D. in Space Physics from Rice in 1986.