Erika Tatiana Camacho, a mathematician and the director of some of the National Science Foundation (NSF) programs dedicated to increasing the number of women and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), will give a virtual lecture on Monday, April 12.
The virtual forum, which is from 2 to 3 p.m., is being hosted by the Cal State San Bernardino College of Natural Sciences, which has organized the event to create a forum for Camacho to share her academic and professional experiences as a first-generation Latina, discuss her work at the NSF, and showcase the importance of bringing more diverse students to STEM fields.
“Dr. Camacho is a leading mathematician and a tireless advocate and a role model for women and underrepresented minorities,” said Sastry G. Pantula, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “I am thrilled to welcome an excellent speaker to our campus to share her story and inspire our students and faculty to infinite possibilities in STEM.”
In addition to her substantial academic and professional credentials, Camacho is also notable for being a former student of Jaime Escalante. He was the East Los Angeles high school math teacher who succeeded in mentoring his students to pass the Advanced Placement Calculus exam, which was depicted in the 1988 film “Stand and Deliver,” in which Escalante was portrayed by actor Edward James Olmos.
The CSUSB community is invited to attend Camacho’s presentation by using the following Zoom link: https://csusb.zoom.us/j/82085173814?pwd=WkV0YUdyTC9laEVVbVZndXNHaitpQT09.
Camacho, who was born in Mexico and grew up in East Los Angeles, earned her B.A in mathematics and economics from Wellesley College in 1997, and a Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Cornell University in 2003. She spent a year as a postdoctoral research associate at Los Alamos National Laboratory. After serving as a tenure-track faculty member at Loyola Marymount University, she joined Arizona State University’s mathematics faculty in 2007.
She was the 2013-2014 MLK Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Over the years, Camacho has co-directed various summer research programs centered on the recruitment of undergraduate women, underrepresented minorities, and others who might not otherwise have an opportunity to pursue academic paths. She also served as a mentor for the Math Alliance, which described her passion “to continue the work and legacy of her mentors: to create opportunities for those individuals from marginalized communities and make graduate education attainable to them through intensive research,” according to her Math Alliance biography.
In 2012, she was the recipient of the Distinguished Undergraduate Institution Mentor Award from the Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).
Camacho is currently the director of NSF’s ADVANCE, a program to increase the representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. She is also the co-lead for NSF’s Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) program, which seeks to increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of Hispanic students pursuing degree programs in STEM fields.
CSUSB was granted the distinction of HSI status in 1994 by the Department of Education and has received this status every year. The federal Higher Education Act defines a college or university as a Hispanic Serving Institution if at least 25 percent of its full-time undergraduate student body is Hispanic and at least half of its degree-seeking students are low-income. HSI status qualifies an institution for federal funding to expand and enhance opportunities for its students.
About 64 percent of CSUSB’s students are Hispanic, according to fall 2018 figures. For fall 2013, 52 percent were determined to be Hispanic.
The College of Natural Sciences encompasses eight departments — biology, chemistry and biochemistry, geological sciences, health science and human ecology, kinesiology, mathematics, nursing, and physics — and a School of Computer Science and Engineering to support excellence in education, research, and public service. For more information about the college’s academic offerings, visit its “Degrees & Programs” webpage.