Alice Agogino with BEST Lab students on staircase

Award-winning mentor Alice Agogino (center front) with students from her BEST Lab.

Alice Agogino wins top U.S. award for mentoring

Mechanical engineering professor Alice Agogino has been named winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the government’s highest honor for mentors who have worked to expand talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The award was announced this week by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. Agogino was one of 41 honorees to receive the award at a ceremony yesterday in Washington, D.C.

The award was established in 1995 by the National Science Foundation to recognize both individuals and organizations for exceptional mentoring in STEM fields.

Inspired to become a mentor after her own experience at the University of New Mexico, where she was the only female mechanical engineering undergraduate student, Agogino uses a mentoring approach that she calls “designing for diversity.” By emphasizing the social impact of solving research problems, this strategy helps students feel connected to their work and motivated to persist in engineering.

Since joining the Berkeley faculty, Agogino has mentored hundreds of students as well as numerous junior faculty. Nearly half of her graduate student mentees are from groups underrepresented in STEM. To further support engineering students at Berkeley, Agogino has also created a tiered mentoring network, in which senior doctoral students advise masters and undergraduate students. In addition to her efforts on campus, Agogino has worked with local schools, museums and organizations to engage K-12 students in STEM topics.

For a complete list of recipients, see the announcement on the PAESMEM website.

Topics: Mechanical engineering, Education & outreach, Faculty, Honors & awards