SU physicist wins 2009 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award - Monday, February 22, 2010
Diola Bagayoko of Southern University at Baton Rouge, has
been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for his
efforts to significantly increase the number of African-American Ph.D.s in
physics and chemistry.
Bagayoko, who serves as Southern University System distinguished professor of
physics, received the 2009 AAAS Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement for his
extraordinary work on behalf of undergraduate students. The award was presented
at the 176th AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego, California on February 20.
"Through the creation and later the expansion of the Timbuktu Academy based at
Southern University at Baton Rouge," said the AAAS award selection committee,
"Dr. Bagayoko has created a resource center for encouraging students to pursue
Ph.D. degrees across a wide range of science, technology, engineering, and
mathematical fields and academic levels."
Bagayoko has reached undergraduate students on a one-on-one basis through
mandatory weekly seminars. He personally mentored 21 undergraduate students at
Southern Unviersity at Baton Rouge; all of them later received Ph.D. degrees in
physics and chemistry, the award committee noted.
He received his B.S. degree in physics and chemistry in 1973 from Ecole Normale
Superieure in Bamako, Mali. He earned a master's degree in solid state physics
in 1978 from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in
theoretical solid state physics in 1983 from Louisiana State University, Baton
In 1996, Bagayoko became one of the first recipients of the U.S. Presidential
Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. The
Timbuktu Academy received this presidential award for programs in 2002. The
Academy is funded by the Department of the Navy, the Office of Naval Research,
the National Science Foundation, the Louisiana Space Consortium, the
ExxonMobile Foundation through the Bernard Harris Foundation, and the Siemens
Foundation. From 1984 to 2003, Bagayoko secured more than $12 million in grants
that were used for instructional enhancement, mentoring, research, and related
Bagayoko is an author on more than 80 technical, refereed publications that
deal with condensed matter theory related to the electronic, cohesive,
magnetic, and optical properties of metals, semiconductors, and carbon
nanotubes. The researcher and his colleagues introduced the Bagayoko, Zhao, and
Williams procedure that first allowed predictive calculations of the electronic
and related properties of semiconductors.
He has also been an author of more than 50 publications on teaching, mentoring,
and learning, and he was the lead author on the proposal and strategic plan
that led to the establishment of a doctoral program in science and mathematics
education at his university.
Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1991, the AAAS Mentor Award for
Lifetime Achievement recognizes individuals who have, for more than 25
years, mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students toward the
completion of doctoral studies or significantly affected the climate of a
department, college or institution, or field in such a manner as to significantly
increase the diversity of students pursuing and completing science doctorates.
Nominees are also considered for their scholarship, activism, and community
building.The award includes a $5000 prize and a commemorative plaque.