RUSIS is honored for its significant efforts to encourage underrepresented minorities and women to continue in the study of mathematics. (The program has now moved to the University of Nevada at Reno and has been renamed as the Research for Undergraduates Summer Institute of Statistics at the University of Nevada at Reno, RUSIS@UNR).
The annual award was created by the AMS Committee on the Profession to recognize outstanding programs that successfully address the issue of underrepresented groups in mathematics.
Allan Greenleaf of the University of Rochester, who serves as chair of the Committee on the Profession, said, "The Rice University Summer Institute in Statistics has been making a difference since it began in 2003. With a focus on students from groups which have traditionally been underrepresented in the mathematical sciences, RUSIS gets students involved in research projects in statistics, while also crucially providing devoted mentoring and practical information about how to succeed in graduate school."
As the country's first Research Experiences for Undergraduates program focusing on the field of statistics, RUSIS has been phenomenally successful: Among the RUSIS participants who have now graduated from college, 83% have gone on to graduate school. 61% of RUSIS participants are from underrepresented minorities, and 53% are female. Of the minority RUSIS alumni, 3 have earned PhDs, 10 have earned master's degrees, and 25 are currently in PhD programs. RUSIS was founded at Rice University by Javier Rojo; he recently joined the mathematics and statistics department at the University of Nevada at Reno and moved the program there.
RUSIS brings in 12 students for 10 intense weeks over the summer. The program begins with coursework in probability, statistics, and computation. Students then form groups and participate in at least one research project in which they analyze data, run computer simulations, develop algorithms, and, when appropriate, engage in theoretical work. Throughout the program, students are closely supervised and mentored by faculty. Students are expected to prepare presentations about their work, for delivery in the final week of RUSIS and sometimes in national meetings.
RUSIS has drawn on local research centers by, for example, inviting researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center to speak to the students and by having students spend a day touring NASA's Johnson Space Center.
With its combination of inspirational mentoring, intellectual challenges, and practical information, RUSIS has made a big difference in the lives of many students who otherwise might not have considered doctoral work in the mathematical sciences.
Also receiving this year's Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference Award is the Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program.
The official announcement of the award to RUSIS, including the selection committee's citation, is available from the AMS Public Awareness Office and will appear in the May 2014 issue of the Notices of the AMS. On April 10th, that issue will be available on the Notices web site no subscription is necessary.
Find out more about this and other AMS awards on the web at
Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, today the more than 30,000 member American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.