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Mathematics Programs That Make a Difference 2006

Citation 2006

This year the AMS recognizes the graduate program at the University of Iowa and the Summer Institute in Mathematics for Undergraduates (SIMU) REU program conducted at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao from 1998 to 2002.    Both of these programs have made significant, successful efforts to encourage underrepresented minorities to continue in the study of mathematics.  

Summer Institute in Mathematics for Undergraduates
Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao
The goal of SIMU was to increase the number of Latinos/as and Native Americans earning graduate degrees and pursuing careers in the mathematical sciences.  Junior and senior undergraduate students who were Hispanic/Latino/a and Native American US citizens or permanent residents spent 6 weeks on the campus of the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao.  During the program, students were able to participate in a mathematics seminar and to attend a series of colloquium talks, complete an undergraduate research project, and learn about the skills and techniques needed for research careers.  Later, students had opportunities to present their work at a SACNAS conference and the Joint Mathematics Meetings and to continue the mentoring relationships developed during the summer experience.

The program has been highly successful in meeting its goal.  During 5 summers, 115 students participated in the program.  Polls conducted after the program was over indicated that 92% of the students now wished to pursue a graduate degree in mathematics or science.  Fifty-nine of these students have been accepted into mathematics Ph.D. programs; three have completed Ph.D.’s in mathematics and one student has completed a Ph.D. in physics.  Twenty-three participants have completed Masters degrees in mathematics.

SIMU web site

Full program description PDF Document
The AMS commends the high level of commitment that the two program co-directors, Hebert A. Medina (Loyola Marymount University) and Ivelisse Rubio (at the Universidad de Puerto Rico, Humacao) have made to produce these remarkable results.

Graduate Program
Department of Mathematics, University of Iowa
In 1995, the Department of Mathematics at the University of Iowa made a long-term commitment to substantially increase the number of its US graduate students from underrepresented minority groups (African American, Latino/a, and Native American US citizens and permanent residents).  Specific aspects of the ongoing program include a three-week intensive Summer Institute for incoming students, faculty mentoring for all students, peer mentoring at key points in the graduate career, and a new course, “Introduction to the graduate program.”  In addition, the Department has built ties with several institutions, including a group of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the Mathematics and Theoretical Biology Institute for undergraduates at Arizona State University and a consortium of mathematics departments at 12 area colleges and universities. 

The Department’s underrepresented minority graduate student population has grown from zero students in 1995 to twenty-four students currently.  The Department has done this while maintaining high average GRE scores and GPAs for entering students.   Eight of the Department’s US minority students have been awarded the Ph.D. since 1998; in 2004-2005, roughly 10% of the total number of doctoral degrees awarded to US minority students nationally in mathematics have been at the University of Iowa.   The Department projects that, out of an average of 12 Ph.D.’s awarded each year, 3 will be awarded to US minority students for the foreseeable future.  Creating a more supportive environment has helped other groups of students; for example, 41% of the graduate students in the Department are now women.  Retention rates have increased for all students since the program has been implemented. 

Graduate Program in Mathematics, University of Iowa web site

Full program description PDF Document

Such impressive results occur only when an entire department makes a strong commitment to a program.  The AMS commends the Department of Mathematics at the University of Iowa for its successful efforts to improve the diversity of the profession of mathematics in the United States. 

For more information about the nomination process, please contact Dr. Ellen Maycock, Associate Executive Director, AMS, via e-mail at or by phone at 800-321-4267, ext. 4101.