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Programs That Make a Difference

13 May 2010 791 views No Comment


“Both of the programs recognized this year have had remarkable success in attracting and successfully mentoring underrepresented minorities”

The American Mathematical Society is honoring two programs that do an outstanding job of bringing more individuals from underrepresented minority groups into the mathematical sciences. The annual Mathematics Programs That Make a Difference award highlights two programs that have developed successful methods for increasing participation of these groups in the field.

For 2010 the honored programs are the department of computational and applied mathematics (CAAM) at Rice University and the summer program in quantitative sciences at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

“Both of the programs recognized this year have had remarkable success in attracting and successfully mentoring underrepresented minorities,” said Susan Loepp of Williams College, who served as chair of the selection committee. “The individual guidance and personal connections each program provides for their students have proved to be a key part of their extraordinary track records.”

Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics, Rice University

The department of computational and applied mathematics at Rice University has been one of the most successful departments in the nation in mentoring and producing mathematical sciences doctorates drawn from underrepresented minority groups. In the past 25 years, the department has produced 34 PhDs from these groups. Additionally, CAAM has produced 43 female PhDs. Graduates of the program have gone on to distinguished careers in government labs, industry, and academia.

Summer Program in Quantitative Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health

The aim of the summer program in quantitative sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health is to attract mathematically talented students from underrepresented minority groups to consider graduate school and careers in biostatistics and public health. Each year, between six and 12 minority students have participated in the program, and it is also open to students from other groups underrepresented in graduate education in public health, such as first-generation college students, low-income college students, and handicapped students. Graduates of the program hold leadership positions in the biostatistics community and have received prestigious fellowships and grants.

Of the 131 program participants known to have received their undergraduate degrees, at least 87 (66%) have completed graduate degrees or gone on to pursue graduate studies, at least 67 (51%) have pursued graduate study related to health or medical school, and 40 (31%) have gone on to pursue graduate training in statistics or biostatistics. Two students are in graduate programs at the Harvard School of Public Health, and 20 have received either master’s or doctorate degrees at HSPH.

The program, which began admitting students in 1994, is one of the first of its kind in the nation and has served as a model for similar programs throughout the country. Its remarkable success can be traced to the strong personal connections it develops with the students.

Read the citations and descriptions of the Mathematics Programs That Make a Difference award here.

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