Tuskegee University STEM leader receives Highest U.S. Award for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring

By: Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University faculty member Dr. Mohammed Qazi has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the highest honor in the nation honoring the dedication, hard work, and important role that America’s mentors play in supporting learners from underrepresented communities who will be future STEM professionals, including climate scientists, mathematicians, innovators, space explorers, and engineers.
“I view mentoring as a bilateral, mutually beneficial partnership between all those who are involved in the mentoring process, whether in the context of teaching, research, or outreach,” said Mohammed Qazi. “This award is testimony to the commitment of many stakeholders to work together and use the powerful tool of mentoring to address the most complex problems in broadening STEM participation.”
Qazi began teaching mathematics at Tuskegee in 2000, following a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). As the associate dean for Research and Outreach in the College of Arts and Sciences at Tuskegee, one of his responsibilities is to mentor faculty members in the college to advance their research portfolios. Qazi’s STEM mentoring programs provide opportunities for individuals from underrepresented communities at many levels, including K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and the professoriate, to gain profound STEM experiences and promote their persistence and success in these fields.

Qazi says he is most proud of the broad alliances of school districts, postsecondary institutions, and other stakeholders that he has forged to address deep and persistent problems in broadening STEM participation and try to do so at scale. His efforts are supported by grants from National Science Foundation, on which he assumes leadership roles.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Qazi is being recognized by President Biden for his lifelong efforts to mentor under-represented minority students at Tuskegee University but also high school students and teachers across the country through his STEM outreach efforts,” said College of Arts and Sciences dean, Dr. Channa Prakash. “This award is also recognition of the excellence and commitment at Tuskegee University”

In a statement from The White House, President Joe Biden says he deeply appreciates the inspiration that America’s teachers and mentors provide every day to support the next generation of STEM professionals. “The dedication these individuals and organizations have demonstrated to prepare students for careers in STEM fields, during what has been a difficult time for teachers, students, and families, plays a huge role in American innovation and competitiveness. The work that teachers and mentors do ensures that our nation’s children are able to unlock — for themselves and all of us – a world of possibilities,” said Biden. 

PAESMEM recognizes mentors for their efforts to inspire and encourage individuals from underserved and underrepresented communities in STEM and their efforts to ensure that all Americans can fully participate in science, mathematics, and technology regardless of gender, race, resources, or geography.

Qazi’s recognition highlights the commitment to promote the success of traditionally underrepresented groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through mentoring.

Qazi has also co-authored journal papers focusing on STEM broadening participation and mentoring. Additionally, as a mathematician, Qazi maintains productivity in his main area of scientific research (Approximation Theory). He completed his B.S. and M.S. in mathematics from the Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada. He earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics from the École Polytechnique de Montréal. Qazi was awarded the 2012 Tuskegee University Faculty Achievement Award in recognition of his mentoring initiatives and research activities.

Since 1995, PAESMEM has honored the hard work, and dedication mentors exhibit in broadening participation in STEM pathways. Since then, more than 300 individuals and organizations have been recognized for their exemplary service. Awardees serve as leaders in the national effort to develop the nation’s human resources entirely in STEM. For additional information and a list of awardees, visit PAESMEM.net.

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