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Black History Month
2018 Honoree

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Ron Buckmire

Ron Buckmire

Program Director

National Science Foundation

 

Where are you from?

I was born in the Caribbean (Grenada) but was brought to the United States at age 2. Later my father took us back to the West Indies (Barbados) from age 11-18 because he wanted to avoid his kids going to high school in the United States. I am now a naturalized U.S. citizen after spending the vast majority of my life in America, primarily in California, specifically Los Angeles. I consider myself an American of Afro-Caribbean descent who is “from California.”

 

Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/ cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.

When I was at RPI (a.k.a. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) I did undergraduate research in mathematics my first summer (I remember it involved exploring properties of hypergeometric functions). I could not believe that they would pay you to learn mathematics! And soon afterward I learned that they would pay you to graduate school too? I was like “And the catch is….?” I ended up getting all 3 of my degrees in Mathematics there in about 8 years in in upstate New York (Troy).

 

What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?

For most of the last 6 years, I have been employed by the National Science Foundation as a Program Officer. I am very proud that NSF has entrusted me with the responsibility of ultimately deciding what kinds of projects should be supported financially to improve undergraduate mathematics for all students nationwide. It is an awesome and exciting job that is quite fulfilling! I’m also very proud of all the students who have gone through my classes who ended up majoring in mathematics and after graduation from Occidental College decided to go into teaching K-12, which I think is one of the most important (and hardest) jobs out there.

 

What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life?

I am happy and proud to be married to the smartest person I have ever met (which happened nearly 27 years ago!). My husband, Dean Elzinga, is a Caltech (B.S. physics) and UCLA (M.S., Mathematics) graduate who was a professional opera singer for 20 years and is now a data science professional (senior machine learning engineer at Southern California technology company).

 

Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

Remember the Golden Rule (and the Golden Ratio!)