Jorge L. Gardea-Torresdey, Ph.D.
Dudley Professor of Environmental Science & Engineering, and
Chairman, Department of Chemistry
The University of Texas at El Paso
Education: Ph.D. and M.S., analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry, New Mexico State University; B.S., chemical engineering, Universidad Autónoma de Chihuahua, Mexico; additional post doctoral studies in environmental engineering, New Mexico State University.
Dr. Jorge Gardea-Torresdey found his calling early in life. Visiting his family’s mines in northern Mexico, his interest in chemistry and environmental science were directly inspired by the colorful minerals all around him and the realization that the toxic mercury used to process gold was being dumped into the otherwise pristine environment. While studying chemistry at the University of Chihuahua, he began teaching English to other students and found his educational role so satisfying that he decided to combine his two passions and become a professor of chemistry.
His dedication to education must be infectious. While he was studying for his graduate degrees at New Mexico State University, he and his wife, Maria (now the Chairwoman of the Department of Public Health Sciences at UTEP), had two daughters who have since both embarked on careers in education.
Besides being the patriarch of a “teaching family,” Dr. Gardea-Torresdey serves as Chair and Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Texas at El Paso where he leads or serves on committees for 13 Ph.D. and 4 M.S. candidates. In his 23 years at UTEP he has supported 33 Ph.D., 31 M.S., and 40 undergraduate students in his own lab, the majority of whom are Hispanic.
He considers his students’ completion of their degrees to be the highlights of his teaching career. By this measure alone, Dr. Gardea-Torresdey has been wildly successful, with former students now ensconced in significant positions at prestigious universities throughout the U.S. and Mexico, and in high-level government and private industry posts as well.
Dr. Gardea-Torresdey’s multiple awards and honors include the UTEP College of Science Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching; the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Distinguished Scientist Award; and Outstanding Performance Award for outstanding efforts in securing extramural funding, Office of Research and Sponsored Projects; the New Mexico State University Distinguished Alumni Award; and the first ever UTEP Graduate Mentor Award – which he considers among the most prestigious awards he has earned. He’s also an honorary professor at Nanjing University, Nanjing, China and is one of only forty-six foreign fellows to be elected to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The author of over 420 publications, with many co-authored by his students, Dr. Gardea-Torresdey has been granted 4 patents for environmental remediation, and the department he chairs has been awarded research grants worth over $25 million under his leadership. His tireless efforts in research, education, and mentoring combine to make up a lifetime of achievement that is now being recognized for the tremendous accomplishment that it truly is.
-By Vinnie Longobardo