SUPERIOR, Wis. – Lorena Rios Mendoza, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, was recently honored by the University of Wisconsin System as a recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Women of Color in Education award.
The award is given annually to faculty, staff, students or community members to recognize their achievements in advancing equity and inclusion for people of color within the UW System as well as communities across the state.
Rios Mendoza was formally recognized on November 8 in Madison at an awards ceremony and reception for her promotion of social justice and organizational change and for helping UW-Superior achieve its goals of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Receiving this award was a great honor and privilege,” said Rios Mendoza. “This serves as a wonderful motivator to continue doing my work. I would like nothing more than to inspire students to finish their degree and to continue working together to fight for the environment.”
Rios Mendoza is an internationally known researcher on microscopic plastic pollution in oceans and lakes. Her work has been published in the peer-reviewed science journal Nature and reported in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The National Geographic website, Atlantic magazine and others.
The work of Rios Mendoza and other researchers led to laws in Wisconsin and Michigan banning the use of microplastic beads in personal-care products.
Among students at UWS, she is known for how she encourages them to learn from their mistakes and feel confident in the laboratory, and for taking a personal interest in their success in and out of the classroom.