This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

National magazine names UB professor one of 50 most important blacks in research science

Published: September 30, 2004

Contributing Editor

Scott Williams, professor in the Department of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been named one of the "50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science" for 2004 by Science Spectrum magazine.



Winners, who were selected based on the scientific contributions they have made over the course of their careers, were featured in the September edition of Science Spectrum, published by Career Communications Group, Inc.

A UB faculty member since 1971 and recipient of a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, Williams has been a Fulbright Lecturer at Charles University in Prague and an adjunct professor at Beijing Teacher's College in China.

Among mathematicians, Williams is best known for his research in a field called set theoretic topology and dynamics. He also is known internationally as developer of Mathematicians of the African Diaspora, the only Web site devoted to chronicling the achievements of African Americans in mathematics.

Since debuting in 1997, the continually updated site has had nearly 2.5 million hits.

He developed the site after finding that another one dedicated to African-American scientists featured many individuals in the life sciences and engineering, but only two in the field of mathematics.

Williams wrote to the site's creators, pointing out that he personally knew of more than 40 African or African-American mathematicians, but when they simply added his name to the list, he said he decided to start his own site.

MAD features descriptions and historical information on more than 500 African or African-American mathematicians with subcategories such as "Black Women in Mathematics," "Black Research Mathematicians and their Books" and "A Modern History of Blacks in Mathematics," as well as news items, job-opening notices and statistics on new doctorates awarded.

The site recently was expanded to include information on Africans and African-Americans in computer science, physics and astronomy.

The response to the site has been overwhelming, with Williams receiving numerous messages on a weekly basis, many from elementary school and high school students and their teachers.

Williams' research interests link several areas of mathematics around topology, a generalization of geometry, focusing on how objects can be deformed smoothly. Topology has applications in many fields, such as chemistry, computer science and physics.

He has published papers and made numerous presentations on topics related to topology and is a regular contributor to the Web site Topology Atlas.

Williams is a founder of the National Association of Mathematicians, formerly called Black and Third World Mathematicians.

He has served on numerous panels, with the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council and groups charged with improving the participation of underrepresented groups in science.

He also has lectured frequently to high school students in Buffalo and beyond and has taught at the Summer School on Mathematical Biology for Young Scholars at Villanova University.