Wednesday, November 30, 2011

President Obama awards Winston Anderson of Howard University for STEM Mentorship

WASHINGTON (November 28, 2011) – President Barack Obama recently announced leading cell biologist Winston Anderson, Ph.D., a Howard University professor of Biology, as one of nine individuals awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

The White House presents the award to individuals and organizations in recognition of the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering—particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

Anderson (B.S. ’62; M.S. ’63) has devoted the last 44 years of his academic life including 36 years on the Howard faculty to the intellectual enhancement and training of African Americans and other underrepresented groups from K-12 to postdoctoral students.

“Dr. Anderson’s award represents excellence at the highest level in scientific research, teaching, learning and mentorship,” said Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau. “We are proud of his contributions to the thousands of students he has shaped over the last four decades.”

Anderson learned best about the value of mentoring as a mentee.

“Mentorship played an essential role in my success as a scientist,” Anderson said. “As an undergraduate and graduate student at Howard, I received advice and encouragement in a nurturing environment from highly competent African-American scientists and educators. Going away to a majority institution, I discovered that my mentors did not have to look like me to be influential. At both institutions, my mentors showed their interest first by example, second through inclusion in laboratories and third through exposure and opportunity.”

Winston Anderson, Ph.D.

Winston Anderson, Ph.D.
Howard is a leader in producing competitive graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In 2009, the National Science Foundation ranked Howard first as the producer of the highest number of African-American bachelor’s degree recipients who continued on with their studies and earned science and engineering doctoral degrees nationally. Under President Ribeau, the University has committed to further enhancing its strategic positioning as one of the top research universities in the nation.

In 2007, Anderson was named among the 20 best scientists in academia by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation’s largest philanthropies, plays a powerful role in advancing biomedical research and science education in the United States.

“Dr. Anderson epitomizes what an HHMI Professor should be—a person who has accomplished a great deal in his own scientific career now reaching out to help today's students develop into the next generation of top scientists,” said David J. Asai, director of precollege and undergraduate programs at HHMI.

Chinweike Okegbe was not surprised by the announcement. He is a 2011 Gilliam Fellowship scholar and has been mentored by Anderson since his freshman year in 2006. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from the Biological Sciences Department at Columbia University.

“He pushed us to constantly challenge the status quo in whatever we did; we could never be too comfortable at any particular step,” said Okegbe. “He always wanted us, his students, to be ready to face the challenges our careers would bring us.”

The White House emphasizes that mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators reflect and benefit from the diverse talent of the United States.

Candidates for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring are nominated by colleagues, administrators, and students at their home institutions. In addition to being honored at the White House, recipients receive awards of $25,000 from the National Science Foundation to advance their mentoring efforts.


Howard University is a private research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 24 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Rachel Mann Communications Specialist Office of University Communications 202.238.2631

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