The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.
Dr. Erika Camacho is Assistant Professor in the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences at Arizona State University. Dr. Camacho became the first in her family to pursue college--in large part due to motivation from her high school mentor, the acclaimed mathematics teacher, Jaime Escalante--and subsequently received a doctoral degree in applied mathematics from Cornell University in 2003. Prior to her appointment at Arizona State University (2007 to the present), she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles (2004 to 2007).
Camacho's mentoring philosophy centers on the core belief that every individual is capable of achievement, and each individual should be appropriately challenged according to her or his particular needs. In her mentoring relationships, she focuses on three key aspects: mentoring through research, mentoring through familiarizing students with her own experiences, and mentoring by creating opportunities uniquely situated for the mentee. Her predominate interest is promoting and developing doctoral mathematicians from underrepresented minority groups, and women, who will have an impact on the culture and diversity of the U.S. workforce as well as strengthening the communities in which they live. She considers the mentor-mentee relationship as a life-long commitment and ensures that her mentees have a broad network of support and professional association with peer colleagues and other mentors.
In the Fall of 2008, at Arizona State University, Camacho created a baccalaureate degree program in applied mathematics with a mentoring emphasis on students from groups underrepresented in the mathematical sciences (including women). She also co-directs the Arizona State University's Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute. One of her signature accomplishments ( during her years at Loyola Marymount) was development of a three-year program, the Applied Mathematical Sciences Summer Institute, which provided 52 underrepresented minority and female students with undergraduate research experiences with funding from the National Security Agency and the National Science Foundation. This three-year program uniquely targeted students who were not expected to pursue graduate degrees and resulted in 71 percent of the participants pursuing graduate programs in mathematics and mathematics-related fields.
Dr. Camacho has mentored 450 undergraduate students who are currently enrolled or have earned their bachelor's degrees (15 of whom were participants in the baccalaureate program she developed). She has personally mentored 56 students who have gone forward to pursue Master's and Ph.D. degrees (61 percent of degree recipients are underrepresented minorities and 57 percent are women). Her leadership and mentoring work has been recognized by the Hispanic Women's Corporation (2011) and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (2012). She was selected to serve as a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013. Camacho's educational programs and activities have been supported by federal grants from the National Security Agency, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.