Skip to Main Content

Mathematics Programs That Make a Difference 2007

Citation 2007

This year the AMS recognizes Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education(EDGE), run collaboratively by Bryn Mawr College and Spelman College,and the Mathematical Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI), currently conducted at Arizona State University. Both of these are successful programs that have made significant contributions to the effort of supporting and encouraging underrepresented minorities to continue in the study of mathematics.

Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE)
Bryn Mawr College and Spelman College

The EDGE program pairs an academic component (a four-week summer program) with a mentoring component. The program's long-range goals are to increase the presence of women, with a special focus on women of color, in the upper ranks of mathematical scientists, and to create models for mathematics programs that allow people from all backgrounds and cultures to thrive,advance and contribute to the profession. The four-week Summer Program provides intense exposure to material and mastery through problem solving by a combination of individual effort and teamwork. The curriculum consists of two, four-week core courses,one in abstract and linear algebra and one in analysis; problem sessions conducted by three graduate student mentors; a mini-course and guest lectures on timely areas of mathematical research; TeX sessions and presentations by participants. The Follow-Up Mentoring Program provides support, both socially and professionally, for the graduate school experience. The co-directors and local coordinator arrange for a faculty mentor at each student's graduate institution. In addition, they maintain contact with students during the year and provide a small research allowance for books and professional travel. Each student is invited to return to EDGE the following summer for a reunion,and an electronic bulletin board allows alumnae to share triumphs and challenges throughout theirgraduate school years.

One hundred five outstanding women were accepted into the EDGE Program from 1998 to 2006. As of 2005, data show that EDGE participants are from diverse racial (49% underrepresented minorities) and educational (44% liberal arts) backgrounds. In the first eight years of EDGE (1998-2005), 90 EDGE sudents entered graduate programs; approximately 92% of these students either are actively pursuing or have earned a graduate degree. By 2006, 28% of the total group had earned a master's degree and discontinued their education, most often to accept employment, and 58% were continuing in a graduate degree program. To date, six EDGE participants (6.7%) and three other EDGE graduate mentors have earned their doctoral degrees in mathematics, and several other participants expect to complete their degree requirements by the end of 2007. Among the six doctoralrecipients, three are white and three are African-American.

EDGE web site

Full program description

The AMS commends the program co-directors, Sylvia Bozeman (Spelman College) and RhondaHughes (Bryn Mawr College), for their success in improving thediversity of the profession of mathematics in the United States.

MathematicalTheoretical Biology Institute (MTBI)
Arizona State University

Every summer MTBI offers sequential research experiences for undergraduates and graduate students, most of whom come from underrepresented minority groups. The program has run for eleven years in conjunction with Cornell University, Los Alomos National Laboratory and Arizona State Univeristy. MTBI focuses onthe field of applied mathematics, in particular on applications to the biological and social sciences, and provides research training and mentorship for students. New students take three and a half weeks of intense training in dynamical systems (broadly understood to include stochastic processes) and modeling in the biological and social sciences. At the end of the initial training period, students settheir own research agenda each summer by forming research groups of 3-4 participants around a project of their choice. Each group is assigned a faculty advisor and provided with appropriate graduate student support.

MTBI has mentored and supported 285 undergraduate students and 31 graduate students, 14 of whom had participated previously in MTBI as undergraduate students. Over its first ten years of existence, MTBI sent 128 students from underrepresented minority groups to graduate school, and a total of 152 Students overall. Furthermore, 53% of those were females, including 66 from minority groups. MTBI's efforts have significantly increased the number of U.S. Ph.Ds awarded to members of underrepresented groups. For example, in 2005, PhDs in the mathematical sciences were awarded to 10 MTBI alumni, 8 of whom are members of underrepresented minorites. Those 8 PhDs represent about one-quarter of the total number of doctorates awarded that year to members of underrepresented minority groups. In 2005, 6 of the 15 women who have received PhDs in mathematics and are members of underrepresented minorities are MTBI alumnae.

MTBI web site

Full program description

The AMS commends the director of MTBI, Carlos Castillo-Chavez, for his high level of commitment and his 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.