Luis Colón of the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (UB-SUNY) has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his deep commitment to advancing diversity in the chemical sciences.
Colón, who serves as professor and chair of the UB-SUNY chemistry department, will receive the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award for work leading to an increase in Hispanic-Americans receiving Ph.D. degrees in chemistry.
When Colon arrived at UB-SUNY in 1993, Hispanic students were not represented within the school's graduate program in chemistry. Colon developed and implemented plans for recruiting talented Hispanic students into UB-SUNY's chemistry program and into science programs in general. Beginning in 2005, his efforts also led to the establishment of the UB-SUNY research experiences for undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation, within the university's chemistry department.
Colon personally mentored ten students, who have all received Ph.D. degrees in chemistry, in addition to inspiring his department colleagues to mentor Hispanic students.
He received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1981 from the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, and his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in 1991 from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He completed his postdoctoral work at Stanford University. Colon has received many awards and honors, including the 2003 Faculty of the Year Award by the Compact for Faculty Diversity, and the Optimista Award when he was inducted into the Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame in 2005.
Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1996, the AAAS Mentor Award recognizes individuals who have, for less than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students toward a Ph.D. in the sciences. Nominees are also considered for their scholarship, activism, and community building on behalf of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Groups traditionally underrepresented include women of all racial or ethnic groups; African-American, Native American, and Hispanic men; and people with disabilities.
The award includes a $5000 prize and a commemorative plaque, 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 , Room 6C, on Saturday, 20 February.