Tilghman honored for work as an educator and scientist

Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman received several awards and honorary degrees this spring in recognition of her work as an educator and a scientist.

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City awarded her its Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Biomedical Research. Given annually since 1981, the award recognizes the achievements of those who have taken a leadership role in the laboratory, in the clinic or in government service in the promotion and enhancement of biomedical research. Tilghman, a world-renowned molecular biologist who taught at Princeton before becoming president, was recognized for her work as a teacher, a researcher and a national leader, and for encouraging the teaching of science to nonscientists.

The Miss Hall's School, a girls boarding school in Pittsfield, Mass., selected Tilghman to receive its first Woman of Distinction Award. Starting this year, the award is being given annually to a woman who is nationally recognized for achievements in her field, as well as for her success in raising awareness of topics related to gender, and for her commitment to advancing the role of women in the world.

In its citation, the school notes that Tilghman "is renowned not only for her pioneering research, but for her national leadership on behalf of women in science and for promoting efforts to make the early careers of young scientists as meaningful and productive as possible."

A Better Chance, a nonprofit organization based in New York City that provides educational opportunities to young people of color, gave Tilghman the Benjamin Mays Award. She was honored as an educator whose principles of personal commitment, integrity, achievement and concern for others reflect those of Mays, who was president of Morehouse College from 1940 to 1967.

Tilghman also was awarded honorary degrees from Columbia University, New York University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Columbia lauded Tilghman "not only for her pioneering research, but also for her leadership on behalf of women in science. Tilghman has helped launch the careers of many female scholars as a member of the Pew Charitable Trusts Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences Selection Committee and the Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust Scholar Selection Committee."

NYU recognized Tilghman's work as a teacher, a scientist and a university president: "You are leading that great university in pacesetting directions even as you have encouraged the teaching of science and technology to Princeton students outside those fields."

UMDNJ honored Tilghman as a "leading advocate for increasing the number of women and minorities choosing careers in the basic sciences."