Public Release: 

2009 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award goes to Diola Bagayoko

Of the Southern University at Baton Rouge

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Diola Bagayoko of the Southern University at Baton Rouge, La., has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) "for his extraordinary effort to significantly increase the number of African-American Ph.D.s in physics and chemistry."

Bagayoko, who serves as the Southern University System Distinguished Professor of Physics as well as chair for the department of physics at his university, will receive the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement during a 20 February ceremony at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

"Through the creation and later the expansion of the Timbuktu Academy based at Southern University in Baton Rouge," the AAAS award selection committee reported, "Dr. Bagayoko has created a resource center for encouraging students to pursue Ph.D. degrees across a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields and academic levels."

In addition, the committee noted, Bagayoko has reached undergraduate students on a one-on-one basis through mandatory weekly seminars, and he has worked tirelessly to advance education and research in general. He has personally mentored 21 undergraduate students at the Southern University at Baton Rouge. All have gone on to receive Ph.D. degrees in physics and chemistry.

Bagayoko received his B.S. degree in physics and chemistry in 1973 from Ecole Normale Superieure in Bamako, Mali. His master's degree in solid state physics was earned in 1978 from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. He received a Ph.D. degree in theoretical solid state physics in 1983 from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.

In 1996, Bagayoko became one of the first recipients of the U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The Timbuktu Academy received this presidential award, for programs, in 2002. The Timbuktu Academy is funded by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research (ONR), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE), the ExxonMobil Foundation through the Bernard Harris Foundation, and the Siemens Foundation. Additionally, from 1984 until 2003, Bagayoko secured more than $12 million in grants that were used for instructional enhancement, mentoring, research, and related tasks.

He is an author on more than 80 mostly technical, refereed publications that deal with condensed matter theory related to the electronic, cohesive, magnetic, optional, and other properties of metals, semiconductors, oxides, clusters, and carbon nanotubes.

Bagayoko and colleagues introduced the Bagayoko, Zhao, and Williams (BZW) procedure that opened the way, for the first time, to predictive calculations of the electronic and related properties of semiconductors. In addition, he has been an author on more than 50 publications that deal with teaching, mentoring, and learning, and he was the lead author on the proposal and strategic plan that led to the establishment of a doctoral program in science and mathematics education at his university.

Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1991, the AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement recognizes individuals who have, for more than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students toward the completion of doctoral studies and/or significantly affected the climate of a department, college or institution, or field in such a manner as to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing doctorates in the sciences. Also considered are nominees' demonstrated scholarship, activism and community building. The award includes a monetary prize of $5,000, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration for the AAAS Annual Meeting.

The AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award will be presented at the 176th AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, which will take place 18-22 February 2010. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at the San Diego Convention Center on Saturday, 20 February at 5:00 p.m.


Each year, the AAAS Board of Directors also bestows a Mentor Award, in addition to the Lifetime Mentor Award. The Mentor Award this year will go to Luis Colón, a chemistry professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (UB-SUNY). Colón was honored "for his deep commitment to advancing diversity in the chemical sciences, leading to an increase in Hispanic American students receiving Ph.D. degrees in chemistry."

CONTACTS: Bagayoko, the 2009 winner of the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award, can be reached at (225) 771-2730, or ( or Colón, winner of the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award, can be reached at (716) 645-4213, 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 From February 18- February 22, Molly can be reached at 619-525-6252.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( as well as Science Translational Medicine ( and Science Signaling ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 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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