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2009 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award Goes to Diola Bagayoko of the Southern University at Baton Rouge

Diola Bagayoko of the Southern University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his efforts to significantly increase the number of African-American Ph.D.s in physics and chemistry.

Bagayoko, who serves as the Southern University System Distinguished Professor of Physics, will receive the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement for his extraordinary work on behalf of undergraduate students.

"Through the creation and later the expansion of the Timbuktu Academy based at Southern University at Baton Rouge," said the AAAS award selection committee, "Dr. Bagayoko has created a resource center for encouraging students to pursue Ph.D. degrees across a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields and academic levels."

Bagayoko has reached undergraduate students on a one-on-one basis through mandatory weekly seminars. He personally mentored 21 undergraduate students at the Southern Unviersity at Baton Rouge; all of them later received Ph.D. degrees in physics and chemistry, the award committee noted.

He received his B.S. degree in physics and chemistry in 1973 from Ecole Normale Superieure in Bamako, Mali. He earned a master's degree in solid state physics in 1978 from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in theoretical solid state physics in 1983 from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

In 1996, Bagayoko became one of the first recipients of the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The Timbuktu Academy received this presidential award for programs in 2002. The Academy is funded by the Department of the Navy, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, the Louisiana Space Consortium, the ExxonMobile Foundation through the Bernard Harris Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation. From 1984 to 2003, Bagayoko secured more than $12 million in grants that were used for instructional enhancement, mentoring, research, and related tasks.

Bagayoko is an author on more than 80 technical, refereed publications that deal with condensed matter theory related to the electronic, cohesive, magnetic, and optical properties of metals, semiconductors, and carbon nanotubes.The researcher and his colleagues introduced the Bagayoko, Zhao, and Williams procedure that first allowed predictive calculations of the electronic and related properties of semiconductors.

He has also been an author of more than 50 publications on teaching, mentoring, and learning, and he was the lead author on the proposal and strategic plan that led to the establishment of a doctoral program in science and mathematics education at his university.

Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1991, the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime  Achievement recognizes individuals who have, for more than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students toward the completion of doctoral studies or signfiicantly affected the climate of a department, college or institution, or field in such a manner as to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing science doctorates. Nominees are also considered for their scholarship, activism, and community building. The award includes a $5000 prize and a commemorative plaque.

The award will be presented at the 176th AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at the San Diego Convention Center on Saturday, 20 February.