Public Release: 

2009 AAAS Mentor Award goes to Luis Colón of the University at Buffalo

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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, the 2009 Mentor Award of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will be bestowed upon Luis Colón.

Colón, a chemistry professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York (UB-SUNY), will receive his award during a 20 February ceremony at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego.

When Colón arrived at UB-SUNY in 1993, Hispanic students were not represented within the UB-SUNY graduate program in chemistry. Colón developed and implemented plans for recruiting talented students, particularly from the Hispanic population, into UB-SUNY's chemistry program, and into science in general. Beginning in 2005, his efforts also led to the establishment of the UB research experiences for undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation, within the university's chemistry department.

Colón personally mentored ten students, who have all received Ph.D. degrees in chemistry, in addition to inspiring his departmental colleagues to mentor Hispanic students.

He received his B.S. degree in chemistry in 1981 from the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey, and his doctorate in analytical chemistry in 1991 from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He completed his post-doctoral work at Stanford University. Colón has received many awards and honors, including the 2003 Faculty of the Year Award by the Compact for Faculty Diversity, and the Optimista Award when he became a 2005 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame Inductee.

Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1996, the AAAS Mentor Award recognizes individuals who have, for less than 25 years, mentored significant numbers of under-represented students (women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) 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 Diola Bagayoko, who serves as the Southern University System Distinguished Professor of Physics as well as chair for the department of physics at Southern University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Bagayoko was recognized "for his extraordinary effort to significantly increase the number of African-American Ph.D.s in physics and chemistry."

The AAAS Mentor Award will be presented at the 176th AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, which will take place 18-22 February 2010. The awards ceremony and reception will be held at the San Diego Convention Center, Room 6C, on Saturday, 20 February at 5:00 p.m.


CONTACTS: Colón, winner of the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award, can be reached at (716) 645-4213, or Bagayoko, the 2009 winner of the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award, can be reached at (225) 771-2730, or ( 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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