Gerardo U. Lopez, M.A.T., M.Ed., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor/Extension Specialist STEM, Food Safety and Environmental Microbiology at The University of Arizona, School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Lopez leads a statewide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Leadership Team that implements a 4-H STEM Program, which brings engaging, problem-based learning and critical thinking STEM projects to underrepresented, urban and rural youth across the state of AZ. Dr. Lopez’s interest in preparing the next generation of STEM professionals extends from youth STEM programing to undergraduate and graduate student research opportunities through his Food Safety and Environmental Microbiology Research. Dr. Lopez’s research focuses primarily on the protozoan parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis in determining the occurrence and prevalence of Cyclospora in agricultural waters and fresh produce to better understand potential sources of Cyclospora contamination to develop effective mitigation strategies to prevent Cyclosporiasis infections. Dr. Lopez’s research utilizes novel quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) methods, including droplet digital (ddPCR) and next generation sequencing using the Oxford Nanopore MinION platform.