Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award

Hrabowski and Summers recognized for their support of underrepresented minorities

Freeman Hrabowski III

I am honored to be receiving this award with my colleague Mike Summers. His passion for science and for supporting students inspires me every day. The Meyerhoff Program and UMBC’s other diversity initiatives have been successful because our culture emphasizes high expectations, hard work and support for all. Like Mike, faculty and staff are committed to inclusive excellence.


The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has named Freeman Hrabowski III and Michael Summers the winners of the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award. The award recognizes outstanding scientists who show a strong commitment to mentoring and encouraging underrepresented minorities to enter the sciences.
Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, cofounded the Meyerhoff Scholars Program in 1988 with philanthropist Robert Meyerhoff. The program’s goal is to help underrepresented minorities pursue advanced degrees and research careers in science and engineering. Since 1993, there have been more than 800 graduates from the program, and most have earned or are working toward graduate or professional degrees. The program has been lauded as a national model, and Hrabowski has published several articles and books based on the results of the program.
“The Meyerhoff program is one of the best programs in the country for developing undergraduates for future scientific training, including students from groups that are underrepresented in science,” says Jeremy M. Berg, the ASBMB’s president and the associate senior vice-chancellor for science strategy and planning at the University of Pittsburgh. “Part of the power of the program is the deep involvement of outstanding research scientists who provide tremendous research opportunities for undergraduates.”
As a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at UMBC, Summers has collaborated with the Meyerhoff Scholars Program by mentoring a large number of students in the program. The research focus of his lab is the use of nuclear magnetic resonance and other biophysical methods to examine RNA structural elements involved in the genome packaging of viruses.

Michael Summers

It has been a tremendous privilege to work with Freeman for the past 25 years on activities that are so important to science and society. I am especially proud to be a member of ASBMB, an organization that has played major roles in helping ensure that science education and science careers are broadly accessible.


Chianna Paschall, a chemistry student in the program, worked with Summers to create a model of one of the proteins that makes up HIV, a model of which was featured on the cover of The Journal of Molecular Biology in 1994. Summers’ most recent paper on HIV-1 genome packaging, published in Science, included 10 undergraduate co-authors.
Summers has designed and directs both graduate and undergraduate training programs at UMBC. The Doctoral Diversity program supports underrepresented minorities in Ph.D. programs in biomedical sciences there and at the University of Maryland-Baltimore. This program is considered a model due to the high retention rates and increased enrollment of minorities into Ph.D. programs.
At the undergraduate level, Summers mentors UMBC students as part of the HHMI Biological Sciences Training Program and non-UMBC students in the Summer Biomedical Training Program. In addition to this, Summers has mentored several postdocs and high-school students in his lab.
Hrabowski earned an M.A. in mathematics and a Ph.D. in higher education administration and statistics from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2012, Hrabowski was named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine and was named as chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. Hrabowski’s research primarily focuses on science and math education, especially minority involvement. Hrabowski gave a TED Talk in 2013 in which he shared some of the approaches used at UMBC to help more students from all backgrounds succeed in science and math.
Summers earned his B.S. in chemistry from the University of West Florida and a Ph.D. in bioinorganic chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta. Summers has been an HHMI investigator since 1994 and is a distinguished university professor of chemistry at UMBC.
“Mike Summers has built an absolutely world-class research program primarily around undergraduate students, many of whom have continued in graduate school and then to their own independent careers,” says Berg.
Hrabowski and Summers will receive the award during the 2014 ASBMB annual meeting in San Diego, where Summers will give a lecture. The presentation will take place at 9:05 a.m. April 28 in Room 6A of the San Diego Convention Center.

Anna ShipmanAnna Shipman ( received her B.S. in biology–biotechnology from Missouri Western State University, and is a Ph.D. student in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri–Kansas City.

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