Chancellor Denton wins the 2006 Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award

Denice D. Denton, chancellor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has won the 2006 Maria Mitchell Women in Science Award, a prestigious national recognition of exceptional work that advances opportunities for women and girls in the sciences.

A jury of distinguished educators and scientists selected Denton, citing her work in developing programs on university campuses and with neighboring organizations to encourage women and girls to pursue the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

"Maria Mitchell was a true mentor and role model for generations of women students," Denton said. "I'm deeply honored to have been selected by the association that continues her goal of making the sciences more accessible to women."

Denton's leadership at UC Santa Cruz and her accomplishments at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Washington were noted as examples of reaching beyond the campus into local communities and organizations to mentor girls and women in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Juror Nancy Doe Hopkins, Amgen professor of biology at M.I.T. and the 2004 Women in Science winner, said that Denton, in her role as chancellor, "uses the power of her leadership position to raise the visibility of issues related to supporting and advancing women and girls in science-related careers, both on and off the campus."

Another juror, Judy Tevethia, professor of microbiology and immunology at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, cited Denton's creative strategies to build mentoring networks. "Where they are few in number on a campus, women scientists have followed Denton's cues to find and support each other,'' she said.

As dean of engineering at the University of Washington for nine years before taking the top job at UC Santa Cruz, Denton created programs and strategies to match school-age girls with university students working on robotics and web-design projects. She served as principal investigator for a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to eliminate barriers for women in the science, engineering, and math workplaces. She also supported junior faculty in writing grants, with the result of more than doubling the sponsored research funding at the College of Engineering.

Earlier, at the University of Wisconsin, Denton served as faculty adviser for the Society of Women Engineers, providing advice and support to university students and encouraging them, in turn, to become mentors to young women in local high schools.

The jury said, "Denton's ideas and projects are accessible models for other communities to follow."

Denton was named Chancellor at UC Santa Cruz in late 2004. She assumed the office Feb. 14, 2005. She is an internationally known expert in engineering education and mentoring programs for women and girls.

Established in 1997, the annual award is named for Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), the first woman astronomer in the United States. It honors a person, program, or organization whose efforts have encouraged the advancement of girls and women in the natural and physical sciences, mathematics, engineering, computer science and technology.

Mitchell gained international fame in 1847 at age 29 when she discovered a comet by telescope. She became the first female professor of astronomy and trained women scientists during 23 years as a professor at Vassar College.

The Maria Mitchell Association was founded in 1902 on Nantucket Island, Mass. in honor of Mitchell, an astronomer, educator, and librarian, who hailed from the island 30 miles off the Massachusetts coast.

Photographs of Chancellor Denton can be downloaded from the web at