Joshua Villalobos is a Donald and Carolyn Biggs Awardee.
An El Paso Community College instructor will be receiving an award in Denver, CO.
Joshua Villalobos, the Associate Professor of Geological Sciences, will be receiving the Donald and Carolyn Biggs Award for his innovation and effective Earth Science teaching among early career faculty.
In addition, Villalobos will be receiving the award for his pioneering efforts to create the first ever Research Education Undergraduates (REU) program conducted by community colleges.
Using the National Science Foundation (NSF) grant he obtained, Villalobos created the field exchange program called Border to Beltway.
His program swapped 14 students from Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) with 14 students from EPCC for a week to expose them to the region's vastly different forms of geology.
“The future REU programs will be specifically for community college students,” said Villalobos. Since the success of Border to Beltway, Villalobos has been awarded additional grant money to continue his REU programs.
“I have always been an outdoor kind of science guy, and geology is one of those sciences that takes everything into account. It takes chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics and incorporates everything.
So, for someone who loves science, this is the ideal field because I look at and talk about everything,” said Villalobos.
“The Earth is our playground, essentially, and what we study in geology can be extrapolated into other planets and other scenarios,” he continued.
“I have never once been bored within my field because there is so much variety and possibility for application,” said Villalobos.
Villalobos grew up in El Paso and attained his Master’s Degree in Geology at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
After graduating from UTEP, he conducted research for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Texas A&M.
In 2002, he began his teaching career at EPCC –teaching night classes part-time. By 2005, he began teaching full-time at EPCC.
“I absolutely love teaching at a community college,” said Villalobos, “for me, this is the best place to interact with students from a wide variety of backgrounds.
These are the challenges I love and you don’t typically face those challenges at a university. For me to be able to get geology and boil it down to people I see everyday is a huge challenge that I love taking on,” he continued.
“His infectious enthusiasm for field geology and serious scientific inquiry was stimulating to my peers” and, “he single handedly inspired me to become the most applied student I could be and to work my hardest at whatever I choose for myself,” said students from NVCC.
Villalobos was nominated by both students and his peers, including Callan Bentley, the 2014 Biggs Award winner.
The award will be presented to Villalobos at the Geoscience Education Division of the Geological Society of America's (GSA) upcomming annual meeting in Denver this Nov. 3.