The 2012 AAAS Mentor Award will be presented to Cato T. Laurencin “for his transformative impact and scientific contributions toward mentoring students in the field of biomedical engineering.” He will receive the award during a 15 February ceremony at the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.
Laurencin is the Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Chair Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Professor of Chemical, Materials, and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut. The director of both the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center and the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the University of Connecticut, he is one of only two designated University Professors at the school.
Throughout his distinguished career, Laurencin has taken significant steps to ensure that the impact of his pioneering work in biomaterials and tissue engineering benefits both the research community and, through his mentoring, future scientists and engineers. “His track record as an advocate for and a mentor to underrepresented minority students, teachers, and faculty is exemplary,” said Yolanda S. George, deputy director of AAAS Education and Human Resources. “Over the past 22 years, more than 90 underrepresented minority students at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate levels have undertaken research projects in his various institutional laboratories.”
Most recently, Laurencin has mentored seven former trainees, including four underrepresented minorities (one woman and three African-Americans), who now hold tenured faculty positions in biomedical engineering. “Considering that only a handful of African-Americans hold tenure-track appointments in biomedical engineering nationally,” George said, “it is difficult to overstate the impact that Dr. Laurencin has had on diversity in this field.”
“Dr. Laurencin was an outstanding candidate for this award not only because of the impact that his scientific contributions have made within the fields of medicine and engineering, but also the impact his life has made on hundreds of engineers, scientists, and physicians he has helped, trained, and mentored,” said Gerard Boulin, AAAS senior project coordinator.
Laurencin received his Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University, and his Ph.D. degree in biochemical engineering/biotechnology from MIT. He also holds an M.D. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard Medical School. He is an internationally recognized leader in the field of musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, and he has received numerous honors including the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and in 2010, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring from President Barack Obama. He is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Established by the AAAS Board of Directors in 1996, the Mentor Award honors AAAS members who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students (women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) toward a Ph.D. degree in the sciences, as well as scholarship, activism, and community-building on behalf of underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.