The Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) awarded Herbert A. Medina, professor of mathematics at Loyola Marymount University’s Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, with its 2014 Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award.
The award recognizes Medina’s dedication to science, education and mentoring, and his talent at fostering students’ advancement into the sciences.
“It’s extremely rewarding helping students excel in a subject as difficult as math, and then watching them develop a passion for it,” said Medina. “I love seeing the reaction of students when they understand a mathematical concept.”
Medina was nominated by former student Rebecca Garcia ’95, who is now an associate professor of mathematics at Sam Houston State University. “I am a witness to and a product of the marvelous work he has done in developing and directing programs that provide underrepresented students with the opportunity to conduct mathematics research as undergraduates,” said Garcia. Medina has been Garcia’s mentor since taking her under his wing to work on an undergraduate research project during her time at LMU.
Another interest of Medina’s is increasing the participation of historically underrepresented groups in mathematics and the sciences. He is a co-director for the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Undergraduate Program (MSRI-UP), a summer program that supports and mentors underrepresented students in their pursuit of graduate degrees, especially doctorates, in the mathematical sciences.
Medina was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. “There were five of us who lived in a single apartment. We tried our best to ‘make it’ in our new county, and somehow we did,” he recalled. “Along the way, it became my life’s work to make a positive difference in the lives of young people, especially when it comes to underrepresented groups participating in mathematics and the sciences.”
SACNAS presented Medina with the award at its national conference in October held in Los Angeles. “Dr. Medina was chosen from a competitive slate of candidates nationwide, who were nominated by their peers and students for excellence in mentorship at undergraduate institutions. Medina was selected by a committee of long-time SACNAS members, themselves seasoned scientists and educators and honored with a special ceremony in front of nearly 4,000 attendees,” said SACNAS Director of Communications and Marketing Jenny Kurzweil.
Medina earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from UCLA and a Ph.D. in mathematics from UC Berkeley.
SACNAS is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American scientists, from college students to professionals, to attain advanced degrees, careers and positions of leadership. SACNAS serves over 25,000 members and allies at more than 1,000 institutions, agencies and programs and has more than 115 chapters nationwide.
About Loyola Marymount University
Located between the Pacific Ocean and downtown Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a comprehensive university offering 60 major programs, 36 master’s degrees and a doctoral degree in education from four colleges, two schools and Loyola Law School. Founded in 1911, LMU is ranked third in “Best Regional Universities/West” by U.S. News & World Report. LMU is the largest Jesuit Catholic university for undergraduates on the West Coast with more than 5,900 undergraduate students and more than 3,000 graduate and law students. For more LMU news and events, please visit www.lmu.edu/news.
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