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September 13, 2000

Professor, Researcher Receives Presidential Mentoring Award

Baltimore, Md. - Dr. Michael Summers, UMBC professor of chemistry/biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, is one of ten national recipients of the 2000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award is administered and funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The award is presented to individuals and groups that have been leaders in encouraging minorities, women and persons with disabilities to pursue careers in scientific, engineering and technical fields. Up to 10 individuals and 10 institutions annually may qualify for the national award, which includes a $10,000-grant and a commemorative presidential certificate.

Dr. Summers award is the second in four years for UMBC, which was among the first group honored in 1997, receiving the award as an institution.

"We must draw upon our nation's full talent pool to maintain U.S. leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge," said President Clinton. "We honor these individuals and institutions who have contributed so much through their mentoring efforts to achieve greater diversity throughout the ranks of our scientific and engineering workforce."

"We are very proud of Dr. Summers, both as an accomplished researcher and as a mentor," said UMBC President Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. "This award reflects UMBC's commitment to students and the high caliber of our faculty."

Dr. Summers' work on the protein structure of the HIV virus, particularly with undergraduate students, has received much national attention. Working from the only Howard Hughes Medical Institute lab at a public university in Maryland, Summers and his students have successfully solved three of the seven proteins which make up the HIV virus.

Dr. Summers' lab graduated nine seniors in 1999, seven of which were African American. Five went on to M.D./Ph.D. programs, three to biomedical Ph.D. programs and one is working on an M.D. Six of these students were Meyerhoff Scholars -- recipients of a UMBC scholarship given to students interested in advancing the numbers of minorities in the sciences.

Among this group are twin Brothers Ryan and Brian Turner, who are now in Harvard Medical School's M.D./Ph.D. program, Danielle Smith who is in the M.D./Ph.D. program at Yale, and Chelsea Stalling, now in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. As undergraduates in Dr. Summers' lab, these four students published six papers in such prestigious journals as Science and the Journal of Molecular Biology - career aspirations for most scientists.

All of these students were UMBC Meyerhoff Scholars, co-founded by UMBC President Hrabowski and Baltimore philanthropists Robert and Jane Meyerhoff in 1988 to address the shortage of minorities in science careers. The program has already prepared more than 200 scholars for graduate work at such prestigious institutions as Harvard, M.I.T, Stanford, and Yale.

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Posted by dwinds1 at September 13, 2000 12:00 AM