The AMS established the Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship to further excellence in mathematics research and to help generate wider and sustained participation by Black mathematicians. It carries an award of $50,000 and is typically conferred on one individual per year.
Awardees may use the fellowship in any way that most effectively enables their research — for instance, for release time, participation in research programs, travel support, childcare, etc. The award is issued through the recipient’s institution, and no part of it may be utilized for indirect costs. Given the aims of the fellowship, the most likely awardee will be a mid-career Black mathematician based at a U.S. institution whose achievements demonstrate significant potential for further contributions to mathematics.
William Schieffelin Claytor, PhD (1908-1967) was the first African American man to publish a research article in a peer-reviewed mathematics journal, with a paper on topology in the Annals of Mathematics. He was the third African American to earn a PhD in mathematics (University of Pennsylvania, 1933). He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees in mathematics at Howard University. After his PhD, he taught at West Virginia State College where one of his students was Katherine Johnson (of Hidden Figures fame). Dr. Claytor's passion for research was diminished by racist attitudes and incidents. This history is recounted in an AMS report. Dr. Claytor spent the majority of his career at Howard University where he also became department chair. He is recognized by the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) in their annual Claytor-Woodard Lecture at the Joint Mathematics Meetings.
Gloria Ford Gilmer, PhD (1928– ) is the first African American woman to have published mathematics research articles in peer-reviewed journals, with papers on differential equations in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society and the Pacific Journal of Mathematics. Dr. Ford Gilmer earned her undergraduate degree from Morgan State University and taught at six different HBCUs after earning a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania. Later in life she earned a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Marquette University. She was the first Black woman on the board of governors of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and also served as a research associate with the US Department of Education. She was the second person and the first woman to give NAM’s Cox-Talbot Lecture. Dr. Ford Gilmer is a leader in the field of ethnomathematics.
In 2020, the AMS took new steps towards addressing racism and promoting full and equitable participation in mathematics education, research, and employment. As part of national outrage about systemic racism, the AMS participated in #ShutDownSTEM day, adopting the AMS Message of Support for and Solidarity with the Black Community and an action plan. Three key elements of the action plan were to create the Task Force on Understanding and Documenting the Historical Role of the AMS in Racial Discrimination, to establish a new fellowship to support the research of mid-career Black mathematicians, and to launch a new endowed fund for the fellowship and other activities. In consultation with various other professional organizations and individuals in the wider community, the AMS Council established and then named the Claytor-Gilmer Fellowship in early 2021.
Both Dr. William S. Claytor and Dr. Gloria Ford Gilmer are products of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Dr. Claytor and Dr. Ford Gilmer have compelling stories that align with an important intention of the new Fellowship: to redress the historical fact that Black men and women have not been adequately supported or recognized by the mathematics community.
How to apply
The application form requires the following information: Apply now
Research Statement – a statement regarding the applicant's overall program of research, past and planned, that is meaningful to mathematicians who are not specialists. The statement should be no more than three pages, including bibliographical references.
Research Plan –a detailed research plan for the fellowship period that is contextualized by the research statement. The plan should include a description of how the fellowship will support the applicant's success. It should be no more than one page.
Key Professional Accomplishments –a list of up to ten publications or other professional activities that demonstrate the applicant's contributions to the mathematics profession. This list should be no more than one page.
Current and Pending Support –a list of current and pending research awards. For each, indicate the support status (current or pending), project/proposal title, source of support, total award amount, award period (start and end dates), location of project, and person-months per year committed to the project (calendar year, academic year, or summer)
Positions and fellowships since PhD –a list of all fellowships and comparable research appointments, such as a term at one of the mathematical institutes. Do not attach a vita.
References –a list of three reference writers who can address the applicant’s accomplishments and research potential.
Applications will be accepted on MathPrograms.org from May 24, 2021, through 11:59 p.m. EDT on July 25, 2021. Announcement of the award recipient is expected to be made by August 30, 2021. This inaugural award may be used in the 2021-2022 academic year or deferred to 2022-2023.
The second application cycle, for the award to be used in the 2022-2023 academic year, is anticipated to open October 4, 2021. Applicants for the inaugural award can elect to have their materials automatically submitted for the second award cycle.
Photo of William S. Claytor courtesy: Raymond Louis Wilder Papers, Archives of American Mathematics, e_math_02076, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Photo of Gloria Ford Gilmer courtesy of Gilmer family