University of Texas at El Paso

GK-12 Directors and Staff

Dr. Aaron A. Velasco

Aaron Velasco
  • Faculty Position: Chairperson, Geological Sciences; Associate Professor, Geological Sciences
  • Degree(s): Ph.D., Geophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz; B.S., Applied Geophysics, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Years Teaching: 8
  • Special Interests: Earthquakes

Over his career, Aaron Velasco's research has spanned a variety of seismological subjects, including earthquake source modeling, seismotectonics, earthquake hazards, and nuclear treaty monitoring research (seismic event detection, location, and discrimination). He has also studied hydroacoustic wave propagation and explored military applications of seismology. Since arriving at the University of Texas at El Paso in January 2002, he has been able to expand his research goals and pursue projects that were inconceivable to him just a few years ago.

Dr. Aaron Velasco's current projects include: investigating the global nature of dynamic triggering, merging results form controlled and passive sources, seismic hazard analyses through the study of historic and recent earthquakes in the Cape Mendocino, California; studying the earthquake rupture processes of the Great Kuril Doublets of 2006 and 2007; and studying regional wave propagations from mining explosions in eastern Arizona for nuclear explosion monitoring. I continue to develop an active research program here at UTEP, and am seeking funding for the following projects: investigating the nature of volcanism in El Salvador, studying earthquake rupture processes of large earthquakes to understand the earthquake cycle; improving regional seismic detection, location, and discrimination; and studying the evolution of the Rio Grande Rift near El Paso, TX using both passive seismic data and geological investigations.

Dr. William H. Robertson

William Robertson
  • Faculty Position: Associate Dean, College of Education; Associate Professor, Teacher Education Dept.; Skateboarder
  • Degree(s): Ph.D., Multicultural Teacher and Childhood Education, University of New Mexico; M.A. Education, University of Colorado, Boulder; B.A., Spanish, UTEP; B.S., Zoology, Northern Arizon University; B.A. History, Duke University
  • Years Teaching: 6
  • Special Interests: Skateboarding
  • Personal Website:

My name is William H. Robertson and I am an Assistant Professor in the College of Education in the Teacher Education Department at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). My areas of expertise are in science education, curriculum development and technology integration in the K-12 levels. Currently, I am teaching classes in both the Middle School and Secondary Education Blocks. In 2008, I was selected as a Fulbright US Scholar and worked for the months of July to December in Santiago, Chile at the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencia de la EducaciĆ³n (UMCE) in the department of Physics. I held a teaching and research appointment at UMCE from July to December of 2008 and contributed in the areas of science education, technology integration and curriculum development. The Fulbright US Scholar Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. Scholars are expected to improve the general welfare of the world through their observations of other political, economic, educational and cultural institutions.

Previous to coming to UTEP, I was an employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). I have worked in science education, university coordination and computer education and training. I have expert abilities as an instructor for HTML, Dreamweaver, and Web Site Development.

I completed a Ph.D. in Multicultural Teacher and Childhood Education with an emphasis in science and technology at the University of New Mexico in 2000. I obtained a Master's degree Science Education from the University of Colorado - Boulder in 1992. I also completed a BA degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at El Paso, a BS degree in Biology from Northern Arizona University in 1987, a BA degree in History from Duke University in 1985.

I am a long time participant and performer in skateboarding with over 30 years in the sport. As Dr. Skateboard, I maintain a Web Site that combines the best of both education and extreme sports for use in the classroom. I also enjoy traveling, hiking, running, weight lifting and golf.

Dr. Vanessa Lougheed

Vanessa Lougheed
  • Faculty Position: Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences
  • Degree(s): Ph.D., Biology, McMaster University, ON, Canada; B.S., Biology, McMaster University, ON, Canada
  • Years Teaching: 5
  • Special Interests: Aquatic Ecology

I was born & raised in Kanata, ON (Canada, eh?) where my parents sent me off to camp every summer (my favorite was canoe camp - it was probably no big surprise that I became an aquatic ecologist). I completed my B.Sc. (1994) and Ph.D (2001) in biology at McMaster University (Hamilton, ON) under the supervision of Patricia Chow-Fraser. She got me interested in wetlands and their restoration. I then spend 3 and half years at Michigan State University where I was a visiting research associate and project coordinator for the Muskegon River Ecological Assessment Project ( I joined the UTEP faculty in January 2005, where I plan to continue research in bioindicator development and exotic species impacts in the Great Lakes region. Locally, my research program is focused on water conservation issues, wetland and riparian restoration in the Rio Grande basin and the functional dynamics and protection of ephemeral water bodies. My favorite things to do are hiking, canoeing, skiing, reading, traveling and spending time with my friends and family.

Cynthia Ramirez

Vanessa Lougheed
  • Staff Position: GK-12 Program Coordinator, Department of Geological Science
  • Degree(s): M.S. Agricultural Development, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; B.S. Animal Science, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
  • Years at UTEP: 6
  • Special Interests: Running

I was born and raised here in El Paso and grew up with a love for animals. While at NMSU I had the opportunity to work on research with the USDA in Nebraska. I also began my passion for teaching with the New Mexico Agricultural and Extension Education Service. After completing my masters I spent a bit more time in central Texas working for the San Antonio Livestock Exposition. I happily returned home and was a liaison for the NMSU and Texas A&M Agricultural Extension Services. From there I taught 4th grade here in El Paso. I joined UTEP in the department of Biological Sciences coordinating undergraduate research training programs. I was fortunate enough to join the GK-12 team in March of 2010.