Born in New Jersey, Gerald E. Poyo grew up in Bogota, Colombia; Caracas, Venezuela; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a graduate student he studied Latin American and U.S. Latino history. He worked as a research associate and curator at the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures at San Antonio before taking a faculty position at Florida International University in Miami in 1990.
Poyo is currently Chair of the History Department and and O’Connor Chair for the History of Hispanic Texas and the Southwest, a position he also held from 1992 to 1996 as a visiting professor before accepting a full-time position in the Department of History. He teaches courses in colonial and modern Latin American history as well as U.S. ethnic and immigration history and the history of Latino communities in the United States.