Obama appoints ASU professor to Committee on the National Medal of Science

Carlos Castillo-Chavez

Arizona State University Professor Carlos Castillo-Chavez has been reappointed to the U.S. President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science. Castillo-Chavez is a Regents’ Professor and a Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor at ASU. President Obama first appointed him to the President’s Committee on the National Medal of Science in 2010.  

The committee, comprised of 12 scientists and engineers and two ex-officio members, evaluates nominees for the National Medal of Science, one of the highest honors bestowed on American scientists. The medal is given to select individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to knowledge in the physical, biological, mathematical or engineering sciences.” In 1980, Congress expanded the recognition to include the social and behavioral sciences.

“I am honored to be part of this committee and for the opportunity to serve our President,” Castillo-Chavez said.

Upon his reappointment, President Obama said: “I am grateful that these impressive individuals have chosen to dedicate their talents to serving the American people at this important time for our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.”

Castillo-Chavez is the founding director of the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center at ASU, and is the executive director of the award-winning Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI) and the Institute for Strengthening the Understanding of Mathematics and Science.

Castillo-Chavez, whose own path to professorship is remarkable, has played a pivotal role in the recruitment of minorities into careers in math and science. For example, his work with MTBI shows how colleges and universities can create change in representation of underrepresented groups in STEM that has national impact.

The institute hosts a summer undergraduate research experience program and has developed integrative degrees in applied mathematics for the life and social sciences for undergraduate and doctoral students. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010-2011, ASU was the leading producer of Hispanic Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences and fifth in the nation for all minority groups combined. The institute’s programs have contributed to the production of more than 89 doctorates, 59 U.S. underrepresented minorities, since 2005.

Castillo-Chavez’s awards include the Presidential Faculty Fellowship Award and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. He is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is a Founding Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Castillo-Chavez was named a Martin Luther King Jr. visiting professor with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. 

Castillo-Chavez received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, a Master of Science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.