Gweneth Humphreys Award

2015 Winner: Ruth Haas


The Association for Women in Mathematics is pleased to present its fourth fifth annual M. Gweneth Humphreys Award to Professor Ruth Haas of the Department of Mathematics at Smith College.

Dr. Haas has been a driving force in the strong and vibrant mathematics community at Smith College.  She has nurtured and supported a generation of women mathematics students at Smith.  An impressive alumnae body attests enthusiastically to the crucial role Dr. Haas played in their decision to major in mathematics, attend graduate school, and ultimately pursue careers in the mathematical sciences.   Former students praise her unwavering support as they move on from Smith, pursue their careers, and face both personal and academic setbacks. Dr. Haas was instrumental in establishing the Center for Women in Mathematics and the highly-successful post-baccalaureate program at Smith.  There is a constellation of other academic and community-building initiatives  developed and supported by Dr. Haas, including a highly effective undergraduate research course, the annual WIMIN conference (Women In Mathematics In the Northeast), a program for junior visitors, a high school outreach program, and weekly seminars.

The importance of Dr. Haas’s contributions to Smith and to the mathematics community in general is best understood by the following extraordinary statement from her nomination letter: “Of the U.S. citizen women earning doctorates in mathematics in 2013 from the top 100 graduate schools in America, 6% were mentored by Ruth Haas.  From her position at a relatively small school, Ruth Haas is mentoring a sizable percentage of the new generation of American women mathematicians.”

The AWM is proud to honor Ruth Haas’s outstanding achievements in inspiring undergraduate women to discover and pursue their passion for mathematics.

Response from Ruth Haas:

I am deeply honored to receive this award and thank the AWM as well as my colleagues and students who nominated me. Many factors contribute to the success of Smith women in mathematics including the supportive and challenging environment created by all of my colleagues and the intelligence and determination of our students. I feel fortunate to have been able to contribute to these students individually and to the mathematical community through them. Sometimes it is small things that make a difference for an individual: a word of support at just the right moment or a simple suggestion to consider an alternative possibility. To me, the art of good mentoring is seizing the moment to support and counsel. One of the most important things we share as mentors and role models is that we struggled too. As we celebrate the fact that an extraordinary woman has finally won a Fields medal, it is still rare to find a roomful of mathematicians in which women are well represented. We still need that women mathematicians can be ordinary.