Willie May, Former Director of NIST, Joins UMD’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences

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May to serve as the college’s director of major research and training initiatives.

Willie E. May, director of major research and training initiatives at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (Credit: NIST)

Willie E. May, director of major research and training initiatives at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (Credit: NIST)

Willie E. May has been named director of major research and training initiatives at the University of Maryland’s College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS), effective February 1, 2017. May resigned as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and under secretary of commerce for standards and technology on January 3.

In his new role, May will return to his alma mater (Ph.D. ’77, chemistry) and work with CMNS Dean Jayanth Banavar to develop new relationships and expand existing partnerships with corporations, foundations and government agencies on major research initiatives. He will also assist the college in obtaining additional support for graduate student education, training and mentoring.

“We are extremely delighted that someone with Willie’s extensive research and leadership experience will be joining the college to help magnify our pursuit of funding for large collaborative, cross-disciplinary research projects and graduate student training efforts,” said Banavar.

Prior to being appointed director of NIST in May 2015, May served as acting director beginning in May 2014 and as deputy director beginning in August 2011. Before that, he led NIST’s research and measurement service programs in chemistry-related areas for more than 20 years. An American Chemical Society (ACS) fellow, May’s personal research focused on trace organic analytical chemistry and investigations of the physico-chemical properties of organic compounds. His research resulted in more than 90 peer-reviewed publications.

As a leader at NIST, May supported the success of his colleagues, facilitating flexible scheduling for female scientists with children and mentoring black scientists at a time when neither activity was encouraged. He was instrumental in establishing the joint NIST–UMD Dolphus E. Milligan Graduate Fellowship to encourage more black chemists to pursue a Ph.D. and the ACS Scholars Program that provides scholarships to underrepresented minorities.

May’s numerous honors include the ACS Award for Public Service; the Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the Year Award; the National Bureau of Standards Equal Employment Opportunity Award (twice); the Arthur Flemming Award for Outstanding Federal Service; the ACS Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Analytical Chemistry Award; the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers Henry Hill and Percy Julian Distinguished Lecture Awards for exemplary work and leadership in the field of chemistry; and Department of Commerce Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals.

He has given commencement addresses for CMNS, Wake Forest University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

To read more about Willie May, visit https://cmns.umd.edu/news-events/features/3496.

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