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Obama to appoint ASU professor to national committee

TEMPE, Ariz. This month, President Obama announced his intent to nominate mathematical epidemiologist Carlos Castillo-Chavez, an Arizona State University professor, to the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science.

The committee, comprised of 12 scientists and engineers, evaluates nominees for the National Medal of Science, a presidential award established by congress in 1959. The science medal is given to 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. Since its establishment, the National Medal of Science has been awarded to 441 distinguished scientists and engineers whose careers spanned decades of research and development.

In addition to the 12 members appointed by the president, also serving on the committee are Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, and John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Four individuals, including Castillo-Chavez, were named in the Sept. 17 White House announcement that included a quote from President Obama: "I am confident that these impressive men and women will make valued additions to this administration. I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead."

Castillo-Chavez, recognized internationally for epidemiological research, most recently for work related to the A/H1N1 pandemic (swine flu), is a Regents' Professor and the Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences where he teaches in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences. He also is the founding director of the Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center at ASU.

Earlier this year, Castillo-Chavez received the award for distinguished public service from the American Mathematical Society for his contribution to the mathematics profession. A fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Castillo-Chavez received the AAAS 2007 Mentor Award in part, for his exceptional efforts and leadership to train, mentor and motivate minority students. He is executive director of two programs that provide research experiences for undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in mathematics and their applications: the Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute, and the Institute for Strengthening the Understanding of Mathematics and Science.

He also is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Banff International Research Station, and a member of the National Research Council's Board of Higher Education and Workforce.

Besides Castillo-Chavez, other individuals identified by President Obama to serve as members of the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science include: Joseph S. Francisco, professor, Purdue University and president of the American Chemical Society; Margaret Murnane, professor, University of Colorado; and Inez Fung, professor, University of California, Berkeley. The appointments are through 2012. More information at:


Contact: Carol Hughes
Arizona State University

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