Next month, Mexican-American mathematics professor Richard Tapia will receive the country’s most prestigious awards for scientists, National Medal of Science. He’ll accept the award from President Obama himself, an honor that is bestowed upon roughly six people a year.
The son of immigrants, and the first in his family to attend college, Tapia is originally from Los Angeles where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. from UCLA, and has worked at Rice University in Texas for nearly 40 years.
Aside from his work in computer and applied mathematics at Rice, Tapia is also known for his commitment to creating opportunities in the field of science for women and underrepresented minorities. According to the university’s paper The Rice Thresher, Tapia’s “Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics has had more than double the national average of both minority and female Ph.D. students graduate each year for more than a decade.”
Because of his work in opening doors for minority and underrepresented students, the Rice Thresher also reports that the National Medal of Science will be another accolade to add the the bunch which also includes:
[T]he Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Distinguished Service to the Profession Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the Distinguished Public Service Award from the American Mathematical Society, and the Distinguished Scientist Award from the Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. He is the first academician to be named Hispanic Engineer of the Year by Hispanic Engineer & Information Technology Magazine.
Well done indeed, Profe! Learn more about Tapia’s work and impact at Rice University here:
Spread the word! Our weekly Bien Hecho segment, highlights the good deeds and achievements of Latinos across the U.S. If you feel that someone you know is deserving of recognition, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Charles for the tip!