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Dr. Etta Z. Falconer Award for Mentoring and Commitment to Diversity


2012 Dr. etta Z. Falconer award Receipient

Dr. Roselyn Williams, Florida A& M University    

About Dr. Williams

Roselyn Williams was literally born as an academic and has stayed on this course ever since: She is a native of Tallahassee, FL and grew up under Florida A&M University’s shadow and inspiring influence and attended the nursery, elementary, and high schools which were all run by Florida A&M University (FAMU). Williams then successfully attended Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, where she decided to major in mathematics and music. Williams deems it a privilege to have had Dr. Etta Falconer as her number theory professor and as the mathematics department chairperson.  Because of the wonderful mentoring and guidance from Dr. Falconer as department chairperson, Williams decided to concentrate only on mathematics as her major. During the summer of her senior year, she participated in a program at the University of California, Berkeley, that was directed by the distinguished mathematician and statistician, Dr. David Blackwell. She continued on to graduate school at the University of Florida. After receiving an M.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Florida, she began her teaching career at Florida A&M University as an instructor for five years. She returned to graduate school and received the Ph.D. degree from Florida State University in 1988 while already serving as an assistant professor of mathematics at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in 1987. Her main research area is Hopf algebras. After graduation from Florida State University, Williams returned to Florida A&M University as an associate professor of mathematics. In 1997 she was appointed as the chairperson of the Department of Mathematics.

One of Dr. Williams’ most significant accomplishments certainly can be viewed in her highly successful funding history for several grant programs to particularly encourage high school students, women, and African-American undergraduate students to pursue careers in the mathematical sciences. Thus, from her very beginnings as faculty at FAMU in 1988 until now, Roselyn Williams helped diversify, restructure and redesign undergraduate research experiences in math and the sciences at FAMU and helped build bridges for students to successfully transition into graduate programs at majority institutions with continued mentoring afterwards.  Finally, Williams has also been very active in public service at the university and on local, state and national levels. At Florida A&M University she has served on several campus committees to enhance research activities with students and assess the performance of general students in STEM education From 1990 through 2009 she served on the Steering Committee of the Sunshine State Scholars, a state funded project to recognize outstanding high school students in mathematics and science. She currently serves as treasurer/secretary for the National Association of Mathematicians.


About the Award
The Infinite Possibilities Conference Steering Committee, along with the Spelman College Mathematics Department and the Falconer Family, established the Dr. Etta Z. Falconer Award for Mentoring and Commitment to Diversity to recognize individuals who have demonstrated a professional commitment to mentoring and increasing diversity in the sciences, and in particular the mathematical sciences. The awards are formally presented during the Infinite Possibilities Conference at the Etta Z. Falconer Banquet. The award recipient receives a commemorative plaque; complimentary registration, travel, and hotel expenses to attend the Infinite Possibilities Conference; and two additional banquet tickets for guests.

Dr. Etta Z. Falconer (1933-2002), former Associate Provost for Science Programs and Policy and Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College, was widely known for her efforts towards increasing diversity in the sciences. Through her involvement in the creation of the NASA Women in Science Program and the Spelman College Honors Program, and as founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, Dr. Falconer spent her life demonstrating a commitment to mentoring women and traditionally underrepresented minorities and increasing their access to and participation in the sciences and the mathematical sciences.


Dr. Ivelisse Rubio
2010 Award Recipient

Dr. Sylvia Bozeman
2007 Award Recipient

Dr. Janis Oldham
2005 Award Recipient

Key Criteria

  • Individual has demonstrated a strong commitment to increasing the number of women and/or underrepresented minorities in the sciences, and in particular the mathematical sciences.
  • Individual has served as a mentor to women and/or underrepresented minorities in the sciences, particularly the mathematical sciences

Additional Criteria

  • Individual has helped to increase the number of women and/or underrepresented minorities pursuing baccalaureate and/or advanced degrees in the sciences, particularly the mathematical sciences.
  • Individual has helped to increase the number of women and/or underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in the sciences, particularly the mathematical sciences.
  • Individual must be living at the time of their nomination.
  • The award recipient is expected to attend the Etta Z. Falconer Banquet.

You can nominate yourself or another individual.This award is open to all regardless of nationality, citizenship, or gender. The nomination should include:

  • Name, position, institution, professional address, phone, fax, and e-mail address of the nominee and the nominator;
  • a 1- to 2-page statement on how the individual meets award criteria;
  • a full curriculum vita of the nominee including a list of all official honors and awards;
  • 3 letters of recommendations that address how the individual meets award criteria, with at least one from an individual who has been encouraged or mentored by the nominee.

Please submit all information electronically to falconeraward@ipcmath.org. PDF files, Word documents, and plain text files are acceptable. In the subject line, write Falconer Award Nominee [Last Name of Nominee]. Recommendations must be received directly from the recommenders. All materials become the property of the Infinite Possibilities Conference Steering Committee. The nomination deadline is October 1, 2011.

The 2012 Dr. Etta Z. Falconer Award for Mentoring and Commitment to Diversity will be formally presented to the award recipient during the 2012 Infinite Possibilities Conference at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County on March 31, 2012.

Dr. Falconer Award Flyer


Infinite Possibilities Conference 2015
March 19–21, 2015
Purdue University
West Lafayette, Indiana

Powered by Building Diversity in Science and Purdue University

Conference 2010

“I have devoted my entire life to increasing the number of highly qualified African Americans in mathematics and mathematics-related careers. High expectations, the building of self-confidence, and the creation of a nurturing environment have been essential components for the success of these students.”

—Dr. Etta Z. Falconer in response to receiving the 1995 Louise Hay Award for Contributions to Mathematics Education from the Association for Women in Mathematics

Read more participant reflections >

IPC is a project of Building Diversity in Science (BDIS).