Massey’s mentorship creates network of mathematicians

Massey’s mentorship creates network of mathematicians

Oct. 23, 2006 | Princeton Weekly Bulletin

Massey (foreground) gathered with some of the people he has mentored over the years.

Massey (foreground) gathered with some of the people he has mentored over the years, including (from left) Robert Hampshire, a current graduate student in operations research and financial engineering who will join the faculty at Carnegie Mellon this spring; Arlie Petters, a graduate student from 1988 to 1991 who is now a professor of mathematics and physics at Duke University; and Otis Jennings, a 1994 undergraduate alumnus who is now an assistant professor in the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

by Teresa Riordan

William Massey, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering and a 1977 Princeton alumnus, will receive the Blackwell-Tapia Prize Nov. 3 in recognition of his outstanding record of achievement in mathematical research and his mentoring of minorities and women in the field of mathematics.

In decades of mentoring minority and women mathematicians, engineering professor William Massey has done more than foster a new, more diverse generation of mathematical scholars.

He has created a community of colleagues who support and inspire each other’s research, including Massey’s own.

“His mentorship is more than just one-on-one,” said Otis B. Jennings, a member of Princeton’s class of 1994 who is now an assistant professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

“It’s sort of a meta-mentorship,” said Jennings, who was advised on his senior thesis by Massey. “He creates the environment where people can make connections for mutual benefit. As a mentor you may help someone get a Ph.D. — but in the end you have a new colleague. And Bill is building a family of colleagues.”

On Nov. 3, Massey, the Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering and a 1977 Princeton alumnus, will receive the Blackwell-Tapia Prize at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minneapolis.

The prize is in recognition of his outstanding record of achievement in mathematical research and his mentoring of minorities and women in the field of mathematics. In a tribute to Massey’s distinguished career as a pioneer in the field of applied mathematics called queueing theory, the institute has organized a two-day conference on topics related to Massey’s research.

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