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Lopez honored for work in promoting STEM education in underrepresented communities

UTA physics professor Ramon Lopez
UTA physics professor Ramon Lopez

Ramon Lopez, a University of Texas at Arlington physics professor, has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2018 Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Conference Education Award, Great Minds in STEM™ announced.

Great Minds in STEM™ is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping America technologically strong by promoting science, technology, engineering and math or STEM careers, especially in underserved communities.

The HENAAC award winners will be honored at the 30th Anniversary HENAAC Conference, “Generation Xcellence” in Pasadena, Calif., Oct. 17-21.

Lopez, who has been at UTA since 2007, said the accolade gives him great pride since he is helping communities, especially those that are underrepresented in STEM.

“It is the ultimate honor from a top-flight organization that has the respect of everyone in STEM,” Lopez said. “We feel like we’ve turned up the dial here at UTA in recognizing those underserved areas, meeting their needs and seeing them walk across the stage.”

Lopez has been instrumental in the success of UTeach Arlington, which started in 2010 and has produced more than 120 graduates. The program recruits outstanding science and mathematics students and provides them with an excellent education as well as with training to receive teacher certification. The program provides early and intensive field experiences for teacher candidates, and the classes are taught by master teachers, who serve as both instructors and mentors.

Additionally, Lopez has worked as a consultant for school districts and state education agencies around the country, including the Texas Education Agency. He has served on scientific or education-related committees with the National Academy of Sciences, American Physical Society, American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and also was on the boards of directors of the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. In addition, he is the author of a popular science book, Storms from the Sun.

Teik Lim, provost and vice president of academic affairs, said Lopez’s accomplishment helps solidify UTA’s standing as a Hispanic-serving institution.

“UTA prides itself on diversity,” Lim said. “Dr. Lopez embraces that special calling to help underserved and underrepresented communities. That only makes us stronger in bringing students who wouldn’t necessarily consider a STEM-related field to delve into those fields.”

Great Minds in STEM™ was established in 1989 in the Los Angeles area. The organization’s nationwide programming focuses on STEM educational awareness from kindergarten through college, and on seeking out and documenting the world-class contributions of Hispanic professionals in STEM to serve as role models for the next generation of American engineers and scientists.

Lopez earned a doctorate in Space Physics from Rice University in 1986. Prior to joining UTA, he worked as a research scientist and administrator at the University of Maryland at College Park, as director of Education and Outreach Programs with the American Physical Society, as professor and physics department chair at UT El Paso and as physics professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.