This week, Talitha Washington, Ph.D., professor of mathematics at Clark Atlanta University and director of the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative, became the first person to ever be named both a 2021 Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and a 2021 Fellow of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) in the same year. The prestigious awards are recognition of Dr. Washington’s decades of work using mathematics and science to enable research, foster collaboration among diverse groups, inspire interdisciplinary exploration, and empower women and minorities.
“Mathematicians have always been interested in exploring abstract concepts and solving hard problems,” said Dr. Washington. “The solutions to today’s complex global challenges will be discovered through collaboration among a diverse community of mathematicians, scientists, and thought leaders from all areas of enterprise, service, and study. I am grateful to have been able to bring people together, expose more students to the field, and contribute my own research to our collective body of work. Being recognized by my mathematical peers through this esteemed honor is very gratifying and humbling for me.”
Washington is one of only 46 mathematical scientists from around the world to be recognized by their peers as a member of this year’s class of American Mathematical Society Fellows. The program recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics. Washington was selected specifically for her unique “contributions to broadening the participation of underrepresented groups and service to the mathematical profession,” according to the organization. Washington is only the second faculty member at a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to be named an AMS Fellow.
“It is a great pleasure to offer my sincere congratulations to the new AMS Fellows, honored for their notable contributions to mathematics and to the profession,” said Professor Jill Pipher, AMS president. “We are grateful to the nominators and the members of the selection committee for helping the AMS recognize the achievements of their esteemed colleagues through this fellowship.”
Washington also joins 13 other researchers, mentors, and educators who have been recognized as members of the 2021 Association for Women in Mathematics Class of Fellows. The organization noted her dedication to raise awareness of African American women in STEM, for her lifelong promotion of HBCUs, and for her unwavering dedication to the National Association of Mathematicians. AWM fellows are honored “for their exceptional dedication to increasing the success and visibility of women in mathematics,” according to AWM President Ruth Haas.
Washington has made significant contributions in the application of differential equations to problems in biology and engineering and to the development of nonstandard finite difference schemes to numerically solve dynamical systems. In her first year at the National Science Foundation (NSF), Washington’s leadership was instrumental in creating and implementing NSF’s first Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program, which seeks to build capacity in undergraduate STEM education at the nation’s 523 HSIs.
Washington’s mathematics community advocacy includes serving on the AMS Council and the Executive Committee of the AWM, as vice president and editor of the National Association of Mathematicians, and membership in the Congress of the Mathematical Association of America. She has also served on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, the College Board’s Mathematical Sciences Academic Advisory Committee, and the SAT Mathematics Subject Test Development Committee. She is a sought-after speaker who is especially skilled at advancing mathematics and broadening participation through her many public presentations.
“This is a great accomplishment and recognition of her contributions to mathematics and the mathematics profession,” said Sandra Rucker, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Clark Atlanta University. “This is a well-deserved honor, and I am pleased to offer my congratulations on this achievement.”
As the inaugural director of the Atlanta University Center Data Science Initiative, Washington is leading efforts to advance data science research and teaching across a consortium of four HBCUs: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College. The initiative seeks to advance the creation of data-driven solutions to current and emerging societal problems, especially as it pertains to Black America.
Washington began her professional journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Spelman College, also home to faculty member Sylvia Bozeman, who is a member of the 2013 inaugural AMS Class of Fellows and the 2018 AWM Class of Fellows. Washington then went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics from the University of Connecticut.
About the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC)
The Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) is the oldest and largest academic consortium serving primarily African-American students. Its members are four trailblazing historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs)— Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College— which include two highly-ranked liberal arts colleges, a comprehensive research university, and a medical school. Together, Atlanta University Center (AUC) institutions confer undergraduate and graduate degrees across a range of disciplines and their graduates are leaders in their chosen fields. In addition, AUC research addresses a broad range of global challenges, with a particular focus on issues and disparities facing minority populations. For more information, visit www.aucenter.edu.
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