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2003 Mentor Award Recipient

2003 Award Recipients

AAAS Mentor Award


Dr. Michael F. Summers is the 2003 recipient of the AAAS Mentor Award. He is honored for his contributions in mentoring students from underrepresented groups and leadership in promoting Ph.D. careers for underrepresented groups in science and engineering.

The AAAS Mentor Award honors members of the Association who have mentored and guided significant numbers of underrepresented students towards a Ph.D. in the sciences, as well as scholarship, activism, and community building on behalf of underrepresented groups, including: women of all racial or ethnic groups; African American, Native American, and Hispanic men; and people with disabilities. This award is directed towards individuals in the early or mid-career stage who have mentored students for less than 25 years. The recipient receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Michael F. Summers is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). He is also a teacher and mentor who “combines the achievements of an outstanding research scientist with equal dedication to students, especially those from minority backgrounds.”

Summers has directly mentored a dozen Ph.D. students from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Of the 67 bachelor’s degree recipients who have worked in his lab, 20 have entered Ph.D. programs. He developed and directs the Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program, a minority graduate program at UMBC. Through this program, 32 full-time students, African American and Hispanic, are pursuing Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences. Participation in other departments on campus has also increased dramatically, and he continues to promote diversity training at other institutions. Of Dr. Summers, a colleague says that “his students cling to his every word, whether these words deal with science or some discussion of their everyday problems in life. Mike Summers is a consummate mentor.”

Further, a former student, now at Harvard Medical School, recalls that “the family atmosphere that the Summers lab created helped me grow into the budding scientist that I have become, and equipped me with the skills and confidence necessary for me to begin my career as an independent scientist.” He also notes that “Dr. Summers is a major force at UMBC in sending underrepresented minorities like me on to prestigious graduate programs around the country.”

Summers serves on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and on the Education and Human Resources Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation. In both cases, he was asked to participate because of his expertise and commitment to strengthening mentoring and increasing diversity at the national level.

Summers earned his B.S. in Chemistry in 1980 from the University of West Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Inorganic and Bio-Physical Chemistry from Emory University in 1984.

Please click here for a list of past recipients.