Shirley Malcom, AAAS head of Education and Human Resources, named to top 50 black scientists


Shirley Malcom, AAAS's head of Education and Human Resources, is being honored as one of the 50 most important blacks in research science by the editors of Science Spectrum and US Black Engineer & Information Technology magazines.

Widely seen as a leader in global efforts to improve science and engineering education and diversity in those fields, Malcom was chosen for the honor because of her long record of influence and her tireless energy, said Garland L. Thompson, director of content for Career Communications Group Inc., which publishes the magazines.

Citing her past and current work in dozens of initiatives, Thompson compared Malcom to Edward Alexander Bouchet, a physicist who earned a Ph.D. from Yale in 1876, becoming the first African American to earn a doctorate degree from an American university. Bouchet went on to become a legendary science teacher.

"When we talk about the most important black scientists, we can't imagine not talking about Shirley Malcom," Thompson said. "Without people like Shirley Malcom, you would not have progress?She never gets tired. She just goes and goes and goes."

Malcom said she is honored by the recognition. "I've been fortunate to have a unique platform here at AAAS which sits at the middle of the science community and the science policy community," she said. "And that has given me an opportunity to see places where I can make a difference. But I have to say that this award really is as much or more a recognition of the support and staff I've had over the years as it is of me."

This is the first year than Career Communications has named a Top 50 group. Malcom and the other honorees will be featured in the September issue of Science Spectrum, which is distributed to the top science programs and to scientists nationwide. Career Communications also will use the magazine to reach out to grade school students, holding out the winners as role models.

Under Malcom's guidance, Education and Human Resources at AAAS has become a global resource for those seeking to improve science education and diversity. Its staff produced the award-winning Kinetic City science education program and the Healthy People Library Project, which distributes thousands of guides to good health through public libraries nationwide and on the web. Malcom also oversees the Graduate Scholars Program, which has helped dozens of students from historically black colleges and universities to advance to doctoral programs and degrees in science, engineering and mathematics.

In 2003, Malcom received the Public Welfare Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, the highest award given by the Academy. She also holds more than a dozen honorary degrees.

She serves on several boards?including the Howard Heinz Endowment, the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, and the National Park System Advisory Board?and is an honorary trustee of the American Museum of Natural History. She serves as a Regent of Morgan State University and as a trustee of Caltech.

She served on the National Science Board, the policymaking body of the National Science Foundation, from 1994 to 1998 and from 1994-2001 served on the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. Dr. Malcom received her doctorate in ecology from Pennsylvania State University; master's degree in zoology from the University of California, Los Angeles; and a bachelor's degree with distinction in zoology from the University of Washington.

Based in Baltimore, Md., Career Communications Group offers magazines, web sites and conferences with the goal of helping businesses and other organizations to recruit and retain minority engineers and scientists. For 18 years it has awarded the Black Engineer of the Year awards. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of AAAS and of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, was one of the 2001 award recipients.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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