At the beginning of each academic year Ball State recognizes twelve faculty members with Outstanding Faculty Awards, ranging from Excellence in Teaching to Outstanding Creative Endeavor Award. This year Dr. Patricia L. Lang of the Department of Chemistry was awarded the Outstanding Diversity Advocate award for her work with women and minority students.

Serving Women and Minorities in Science

Dr. Patricia Lang has worked at Ball State for over thirty years, serving as Chemistry Department Chair from 2008-2014 and Director of the first grant of the National Science Foundation’s LSAMP Indiana program at Ball State from 2005-2009.  The LSAMP program (short for Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) is a significant grant that funds paid research opportunities for minority students in STEM fields. Dr. Lang used this grant to actively recruit and mentor minority students in the sciences. One of the recipients of the LSAMP award was the only African-American female in her class,

“Dr. Lang reached out to me as she saw my potential…She instilled in me the importance of my representation in Chemistry….through her inspiring story and representation (a woman with a PhD in Chemistry), I decided to pursue my PhD.”

As a result of Dr. Lang’s mentorship, that student earned a PhD and is currently a Senior Scientist at a major chemical company.

Dr. Lang is currently serving as Co-Author and Co-Director of another STEM LSAMP proposal that was recently awarded 4.9 million dollars, which will continue to be used to change the lives of minority students. It is because of her advocacy and work in these programs that Lang’s colleague wrote, “[She] has been not only an outstanding Chemistry professor but the perfect blending of a scholar and advocate for inclusive teaching, research, and service.”

As the only female faculty in the Chemistry department for many years, Dr. Lang understands the importance of mentoring underrepresented students. In her time at Ball State she has mentored 55 undergraduate and 16 graduate students on research projects. She consistently went above and beyond for her students. A recent alum wrote, “[She] always took the time to meet with me, whether it be to review data, prepare for my presentations, or to help advise me on my future career goals…[we] still maintain correspondence.”

Dedication to Students

Despite the number of students she has mentored, Dr. Lang still cares for each one individually. A colleague wrote in support her nomination, “She has accompanied many a student on a ‘first’; first presentation, first trip outside of Indiana, first journey on an airplane…Every student she has mentored has a place in her heart and memory, and she keeps in touch with many of them to this day, witnessing their marriages and other personal aspects of their lives.”

Dr. Patricia Lang has a career that defines what it means to be a mentor and an advocate. She has done significant work in diversifying the field of Chemistry, scattering empowered alumni all across the world. She truly is deserving of the Outstanding Diversity Advocate award.