UTEP Physics Professor Receives Prestigious Cottrell Scholar Award
UTEP Physics Professor Receives Prestigious Cottrell Scholar Award

UTEP Physics Professor Receives Prestigious Cottrell Scholar Award

Jorge Muñoz, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at UTEP, has been named a 2022 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.

Muñoz is one of 24 teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics, and astronomy to receive the award which recognizes excellence in research and teaching as well as the recipient’s potential to become an academic leader. Each award is $100,000.

“We are extremely proud that Dr. Muñoz was selected for this highly competitive and prestigious award,” said Robert A. Kirken, Ph.D., dean of the UTEP College of Science. “We are even more impressed with the unique training and expertise that he shares with our students on a daily basis because we know it will increase their competitiveness in the critically important field of materials physics.”

Muñoz is the first teacher-scholar from UTEP to receive this award.

“Being from El Paso and graduating from UTEP, I have experienced firsthand the evolution of the University into a research-intensive institution,” he said. “We have created an environment that supports great research, which now attracts international talent. I hope this award motivates other teacher-scholars to come to work at UTEP or collaborate with us.”

Recipients of the Cottrell Scholar Award are chosen through a rigorous peer-review process of applications from a wide variety of public and private research universities and primarily undergraduate institutions in the United States and Canada. Their award proposals incorporate both research and science education.

The research group Muñoz leads uses computer simulations and develops machine learning algorithms to investigate the microscopic details of how atoms in materials vibrate. These vibrations influence whether particular arrangements of atoms are possible or not at given conditions. This award will support research on shape-memory alloys, materials that can be reshaped when cold but return to their original shape when heated.

“I design course assignments that engage the student and adapt to diverse ways of learning,” he said. “There are education visionaries at UTEP that are re-imagining education for this century and there is strong institutional support. We care about the quality of the education our students receive.”

Muñoz’s award will support the development of an algebra-based computational materials physics course at UTEP.

Muñoz earned undergraduate degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from UTEP in 2007. He was awarded his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 2013 and went on to work at Intel Corporation before joining the UTEP faculty in 2018.

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