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NMSU professor wins national Presidential Award for Excellence

New Mexico State University biochemistry professor Glenn Kuehn received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., Thursday, Sept. 7.

Kuehn is one of 10 individuals selected this year for the award, which is administered and funded through the National Science Foundation. Ten institutions also were chosen. Each individual and institution will receive a $10,000 grant.

"We must draw upon our nation's full talent pool to maintain U.S. leadership across the frontiers of scientific knowledge," President Clinton said. "We honor these individuals and institutions who have contributed so much through their mentoring efforts to achieve greater diversity throughout the ranks of our scientific and engineering work force."

Kuehn has mentored numerous students in 26 years of directing NMSU programs aimed at bringing minority students into scientific fields. He has been instrumental in the successes of the university's Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) program and the Bridges to American Indian Students in Community Colleges program, both funded by the National Institutes of Health.

About 400 minority students have participated in these programs at NMSU and more than 80 percent of them have advanced beyond the bachelor's degree level in the biomedical sciences and related fields.

"Having the students work with faculty members in apprenticeship roles on research problems is the cornerstone of these programs," Kuehn said. "There has always been an extraordinarily dedicated group of science faculty members here, in the areas of biochemistry, biology, the plant sciences and chemistry, on whom I could call on and ask, 'Would you take this student into your laboratory for a research experience?' and they never refuse to give a student an opportunity."

The Presidential Award for Excellence belongs to all of those faculty members also, he said: "I can only accept this on behalf of about 40 extraordinary faculty and staff."

Kuehn participated in two days of activities in Washington, D.C., on Thursday and Friday, including a symposium on mentoring and a presidential reception at the White House. The $10,000 award that comes with this recognition "will go back into the program somehow," he said. "I will get some ideas from my colleagues on that."

Karl Hill
Sept. 8, 2000