Public Release: 

2008 AAAS Mentor Award goes to Sylvia T. Bozeman of Spelman College

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Sylvia T. Bozeman, a professor of mathematics at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her commitment toward increasing the number of African-American women with doctoral degrees in mathematics.

Bozeman will receive the 2008 AAAS Mentor Award during a 14 February ceremony at the 2009 AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Since she became chair of the mathematics department at Spelman, 20 mathematics graduates have received doctoral degrees in mathematics or math education. Half of those students have said that their decision to attend graduate school could be attributed directly to Bozeman's encouragement and mentoring. She also is co-founder and co-director of the award-winning Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education initiative, or EDGE - a joint effort between Spelman and Bryn Mawr College to improve retention rates of female students in mathematics graduate programs across the U.S. Between 1998 and 2006, 105 women entered the program, 17 of whom - including seven who are African American - have received their doctoral degrees in mathematics or statistics to date.

Bozeman earned her doctoral degree in mathematics from Emory University, her master's degree from Vanderbilt University and her undergraduate degree from Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical College. She has taught at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University and, beginning in 1974, at Spelman College, where she has served on the faculty, on the Board of Trustees, and as an associate provost.

Her many honors and awards have included the Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award from Alabama A&M/National Association for Equal Opportunity (NAFEO); Spelman's Presidential Faculty Award for Distinguished Service; the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA); the White House Initiative Faculty Award for Excellence in Science and Technology; Tenneco United Negro College Fund Award for Excellence in Teaching; and election to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1997, Bozeman became the first African-American to be elected a Section Governor in the MAA's 82-year history. The MAA is the largest mathematics organization of college and university professors, and the Southeastern Section is one of the largest sections.

Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1996, the AAAS Mentor Award recognizes individuals who have, for fewer than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students towards a Ph.D. in the sciences, as well as scholarship, activism, and community building on behalf of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences include women of all racial or ethnic groups; African-American, Native-American, and Hispanic men; and people with disabilities. The award includes a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration to the AAAS Annual Meeting.

Each year, the AAAS Board of Directors also bestows a Lifetime Mentor Award, in addition to the Mentor Award. The Lifetime Mentor Award this year will go to Percy A. Pierre, vice president emeritus and professor emeritus of electrical & computer engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Pierre was recognized for his life-long dedication to increasing the number of African-American and Hispanic-American Ph.D.s in Engineering.

The AAAS Mentor Award will be presented at the 175th AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois, which will take place 12-16 February 2009. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at The Fairmont Chicago on Saturday, 14 February at 5:00 p.m.


CONTACTS: Dr. Bozeman can be reached at (404) 270-5827, or For general information on the AAAS Awards ceremony or other background, Communications Officer Molly McElroy of AAAS can be reached at (202) 326-6434, or

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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