Duke's Arlie Petters is winner of first Blackwell-Tapia Prize for underrepresented minority mathematicians

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ITHACA, N.Y. -- Arlie O. Petters, a mathematician at Duke University, is the first recipient of the Blackwell-Tapia Prize, an award that specifically honors a mathematical scientist from underrepresented minority groups, including African Americans and Hispanics. The award is supported by funding from Cornell University and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, Calif.

The $3,000 award is being presented at a conference being held today, Nov. 1, and Saturday, Nov. 2, at the MSRI. The conference, which builds on a lecture series established at Cornell in May 2000, is sponsored by Cornell, MSRI and the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, University of California at Los Angeles.

The award and the lecture series are named for two of the nation's most eminent mathematicians, David Blackwell of the University of California at Berkeley and Richard Tapia of Rice University. The award will be given every other year to a leading mathematical scientist who has served as a role model and inspiration for colleagues and students from under-represented minority groups.

The MSRI conference is featuring lectures by Petters and other leading mathematicians and poster sessions presenting the work of mathematicians and graduate students. The establishing of the conference and the award has been spearheaded by Carlos Castillo-Chavez, professor of biomathematics in the departments of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology and Theoretical and Applied Mechanics at Cornell.

Petters is the William and Sue Gross associate professor of mathematics at Duke, where he works on problems of mathematical physics. His current research interests include the development of a mathematical theory of light deflection in gravitational fields and the investigation of the observational consequences of the theorems in such a theory. He is a native of Belize and came to the United States in 1979.

Related World Wide Web sites: The following sites provide additional information on this news release. Some might not be part of the Cornell University community, and Cornell has no control over their content or availability.

o Blackwell-Tapia Conference: http://zeta.msri.org/calendar/workshops/WorkshopInfo/244/show_workshop

o MSRI: http://www.msri.org/

o Carlos Castillo-Chavez: http://www.biom.cornell.edu/Homepages/Carlos_Castillo- Chavez/index.html