Iowa State University

Derrick Rollins, Chemical Engineering, (515) 294-5516 or (515) 294-8192
Erica Brizzi, News Service, (515) 294-4777


AMES, Iowa -- Derrick Rollins, Iowa State University associate professor of statistics and chemical engineering, will receive a mentor award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The AAAS Mentor Awards honor individuals who during their careers demonstrate extraordinary leadership to increase participation in science and engineering by underrepresented groups, specifically women of all racial and ethnic groups; African American, American Indian and Hispanic men; and people with disabilities. The award Rollins will receive recognizes individuals who have mentored a significant number of students over a period of less than 10 years.

In her letter of recommendation to the AAAS, Kristine Bendixen, a graduate student who Rollins mentored, wrote that what sets Rollins apart from other professors is that he always makes an effort to get to know his students personally and not simply on a professional level.

"He learns about our interests, hobbies, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, just as we get to know his," Bendixen said. "In this way, he is able to help his students by emphasizing our strengths and helping us overcome our fears and weaknesses."

Bendixen said that Rollins has always challenged his students to perform at or exceed their expectations and abilities. "He is the one person that can be counted on to maintain faith in you when your confidence falters," Bendixen said.

Rollins said being a mentor is more than serving as an adviser and a role model for students. "Mentoring is a form of education that takes place on a personal level and is driven by the value one places on potential and on the commitment one gives to transforming potential into personal success," he said.

In the fall of 1990, Rollins joined the ISU faculty in a unique joint appointment between the statistics department in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the chemical engineering department in the College of Engineering. Since then, he has mentored 74 graduate and undergraduate students at Iowa State.

Rollins was the recipient of the Anna Pate Mentoring Award for 1995-96 from ISU's Program for Women in Science and Engineering, and the prestigious National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1994. Rollins received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas in 1979, M.S. degrees in chemical engineering and statistics from Ohio State University in 1987 and 1989, and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Ohio State University in 1990.

Rollins will receive the award at the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle next February.