Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, November 17, 2011

U-M physics professor receives presidential award for mentoring

A U-M physics professor who organized job-shadowing programs for high school students and a summer science institute for middle school girls has been honored with a national mentoring award.

  Roy Clarke

Roy Clarke, Collegiate Professor of Physics, will receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama in a ceremony later this year, the White House has announced. Clarke is one of nine individuals and eight organizations selected to receive the 2010 and 2011 awards.

“Through their commitment to education and innovation, these individuals and organizations are playing a crucial role in the development of our 21st century work force,” Obama said.  “Our nation owes them a debt of gratitude for helping ensure that America remains the global leader in science and engineering for years to come.” 

The award recognizes the importance that mentoring plays in the academic and personal growth of students studying science and engineering — particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

“Roy Clarke is richly deserving of this honor,” said Provost Philip Hanlon. “As a scholar and a mentor, he has led remarkably successful efforts to create a more diverse scientific community in applied physics. The university is pleased and proud to have him as a member of our faculty.”

Clarke's mentoring activities include supervising more than 30 Ph.D. students as well as undergraduate research. He has organized high school job-shadowing programs and the popular physics segment of the Women in Science and Engineering’s summer science program for middle school girls. Clarke is the U-M representative for the National Physical Science Consortium, which awards cooperative graduate fellowships in physics, chemistry, math and computer science. He has been active in the organization since its inception more than 20 years ago.

Clarke was the founding director the U-M Applied Physics program, which addresses the needs of students who wanted to pursue research in areas outside of the traditional physics boundaries, including many students from groups underrepresented in science, engineering, and mathematics. Clarke has found the mentoring work he and his colleagues have done through this program to be most rewarding.

“I’m extremely honored personally and more so on behalf of the many outstanding faculty, students and administrative staff that have made the Applied Physics program the terrific success it is today,” Clarke said. “It’s fitting that the program is so honored going into its 25 anniversary next year. Of course, I’m over the moon about this chance to meet President Obama in person!”

The award includes a grant of $25,000 from the National Science Foundation to advance mentoring efforts.