National Medal of Science winner, Rice University Professor Richard Tapia to be honored for five decades of service at April 3 event

Richard Tapia

National Medal of Science winner Richard Tapia, a University Professor at Rice University who is widely recognized as a national leader in the preparation of women and underrepresented minorities for advanced degrees in science, engineering and mathematics, will be celebrated for five decades of service to the university at 4 p.m. April 3 at Rice’s Faculty Club.

Richard Tapia
Richard Tapia. Photo credit: Rice University. 

Tapia has received numerous awards during his career, including the Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 1996. In 2011 at a White House ceremony, President Barack Obama presented Tapia with the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to a scientist or engineer by the United States government. He was the first Hispanic to receive the National Science Board’s Vannevar Bush Award, and in 2016, he received the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Public Engagement with Science Award.

In 1992, Tapia became the first Hispanic elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1996, President Bill Clinton appointed him to the National Science Board, where he served until 2002, and from 2001-04 he chaired the National Research Council’s Board on Higher Education and the Workforce.

At Rice, Tapia served as the director of the Rice Graduate Education for Minorities and Empowering Leadership Alliance Programs, an associate director of graduate studies in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies and director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education.

Through the center, he created the Tapia Camps, an award-winning series of residential STEM camps for rising eighth-12th graders at Rice that are powering futures in STEM fields for students of all backgrounds. Campers complete STEM projects and presentations as they experience life as a Rice student for a week.

Media interested in covering the event may contact Amy McCaig, senior media relations specialist at Rice, at 713-348-6777 or