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Dorceta Taylor, University of Michigan

The official biography below was current at the time of the award. Awardees may choose to provide their latest biographical information on their profile page.

Dr. Dorceta Taylor is a full Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan--an institution at which she has taught and conducted research for 18 years. Her current study focus is food insecurity in the state of Michigan. She earned dual doctorate degrees from Yale University's School of Forestry and the Department of Sociology. Her mentoring targets the academic and social isolation that is often times felt by students and young professionals from groups underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Dr. Taylor has perfected a networking model of mentoring where multiple people collaborate in the mentoring--with mentors and proteges exchanging both vocational and psychosocial benefits. She actively recruits diverse graduate students to the University's School of Natural Resources and Environment. Over the past two decades she has mentored 68 master's-level students (50 percent were underrepresented minorities and 85 percent were female) and 34 doctoral-level students (65 percent were underrepresented minorities and 59 percent were female). Thirty of the doctoral-level students have completed a STEM Ph.D. program, and 54 of the master's-level students have completed the M.S. program (with the remaining 14 due for completion in 2015).

She has mentored 117 undergraduates (50 percent were minority students and 79 percent were female students) in the last two decades. Through the University of Michigan's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program and the Summer Research Opportunity Program, Dr. Taylor has trained in her lab more than 50 of the 117 undergraduates. She assisted them in finding internships and jobs after graduation, encouraged them to pursue graduate education, and took them to conferences or encouraged them to attend professional events of interest in their fields. All 117 of her undergraduate mentees have been graduated from college, 98 percent graduating in four years, and more than 60 percent going on to graduate school.

In order to broaden her impact and sustain her mentoring activities, she developed the Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative (MELDI) in 2003 with funding from the Joyce Foundation. The MELDI website provides comprehensive information on diversity issues in the environmental sciences, and receives more than 156,000 hits from around the world annually. The website is frequently referenced by a variety of environmental organizations, government environmental agencies, and university environmental programs.

Dr. Taylor's research, educational and mentoring programs and activities have been supported by federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation as well as private foundations including the Ford Foundation and Joyce Foundation. Dr. Taylor is a member of the advisory committee for the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and helped expand the Doris Duke Conservation Fellowships to include students attending historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions of higher education. In 2010, her book, Environment and the People in American Cities, won the Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication award of the American Sociological Association.