Mathematician Erika Camacho receives national, local awards

October 2, 2012

Erika Tatiana Camacho, assistant professor of mathematics in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, is the 2012 recipient of the Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award from SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science). She will receive the award Oct. 11 at the SACNAS National Conference in Seattle.

Camacho also is among the recipients of the 2012 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo. She and the other award winners are being honored at an Oct. 3 luncheon in Phoenix. This is the sixth annual 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Awards event, organized by Univision Radio–Phoenix and Valle del Sol to honor and promote excellence in leadership and community service. Erika Camacho Download Full Image

Camacho said she appreciates the recognition from SACNAS for having made a difference in the lives of numerous students through her mentoring, “because I want to do for them what my mentor did for me, create opportunities that allowed me to get out of poverty, empower myself and be where I am today.”

Camacho had a well-known first mentor, the legendary high school math teacher Jaime Escalante, who was the subject of the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver.” Camacho expected to become a store cashier until she took algebra with Escalante in East Los Angeles. She went on to earn a PhD in applied mathematics at Cornell University.

“In academia, research is often what gets counted first with mentoring being an afterthought,” Camacho said. “This is unfortunate because it is through mentoring, especially of diverse and underrepresented groups, that we will bring about equality and permanent change in our society and make our nation strong and sustainable. Careful, genuine and intensive mentoring takes a significant amount of time that usually only the mentors themselves can understand and appreciate. It is extremely important to always let our passions and dreams be guided by the needs of others, and mentoring allows me to do this.”

“Erika’s recognitions from within and outside of academe are fitting recognition of her extraordinary efforts to bring underrepresented groups of students into the mathematical sciences,” said Roger Berger, director of the school.

The 40 Hispanic Leaders Under 40 Awards are designed to celebrate the accomplishments of Arizona recipients and their contributions and commitments to communities across the state.

“The reports have been coming out for years describing how abysmal the U.S. is doing in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) in comparison to many other countries in the world,” Camacho said. “And we still don't seem to get it – so much emphasis is placed on business and entrepreneurship without a comparable investment in the overall education of our society. It was very satisfying to see that Univision and Valle del Sol recognize the contributions of someone in academia for her mentoring of others and her research in STEM. It is truly an honor to be recognized by my community because their support means a lot to me.”

Camacho teaches classes including Calculus (MAT 210, 211, and 271), Modern Differential Equation (MAT 275) and Mathematical Models in Biology (MAT 450) for the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in New College, the core college on ASU’s West campus. Her scholarly work has been published in journals including The Journal of Theoretical Biology, Mathematical Biosciences and Engineering, Theoretical Computer Science, and International Journal of Solids and Structures.

Event at West campus provides details on medical careers

October 3, 2012

Anyone interested in pursuing a career in a medical-related field can gather information and talk with medical school representatives during a Pre-Health Conference on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Hosted by Arizona State University’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and its School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, the event at ASU’s West campus is set for 4 to 8 p.m. in the La Sala Ballroom of the University Center Building at 4701 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.

The fourth annual Pre-Health Conference will include breakout sessions focusing on topics such as preparing for the MCAT, interviewing styles for both individual interviews and the multiple mini interview (MMI) process, and preparing personal statements. Information tables will feature representatives from institutions including the University of Arizona College of Medicine, A.T. Still University, Midwestern University, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Northern Arizona University’s physical therapist and physician’s assistant programs, and The Princeton Review. Download Full Image

The day’s keynote speaker is Edgar D. Staren, president and CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center. Staren will speak at 4 p.m.

The remainder of the schedule includes a networking opportunity with program representatives from 5 to 6 p.m., breakout sessions from 6 to 7:30, and table visits with representatives from 7:30 to 8.

“This event provides a great opportunity for students in any major to find out about the medical career options and educational paths available to them once they complete a bachelor’s degree,” said Sue Lafond, academic success coordinator in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences. “Attendees can learn more about various potential career paths, whether they plan to pursue an M.D. or D.O. degree or become a pharmacist, dentist, optometrist, physical therapist or physician’s assistant.”

The Pre-Health Conference is free; visitor parking on campus costs $2 per hour. Participants may pre-register at On-site registration begins at 3:30 p.m. on the day of the event. For additional information, contact or