Dr. Boyaka honored with AAI Distinguished Service Award

BoyakaDr. Prosper Boyaka, Professor, Veterinary Biosciences, received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Immunologists (AAI). He has provided vital leadership to AAI in his service on the AAI Minority Affairs Committee from 2006 to 2012. As chair of the committee from 2009 to 2012, Boyaka initiated multiple enhancements to the annual AAI Minority Affairs Committee Careers and Networking Roundtable at the AAI meeting. These included formalizing table leader briefing materials and the opening orientation for attendees, initiating post-event distribution of the attendee list to foster participants’ continuing networking and mentoring, and enhancing the annual survey of roundtable attendees to maximize the value of future events. He was also instrumental in expanding the AAI List of Minority Members, the online networking resource comprised of AAI minority members (regular and trainee) who volunteer to be listed and participate in mentoring and information sharing.

More recently, Boyaka initiated a collaborative effort by the AAI Minority Affairs Committee and the AAI Committee on Public Affairs (CPA) in response to a 2011 study documenting a racial disparity in the awarding of NIH grant funding. The effort resulted in the 2012 submission of AAI feedback to the NIH Director’s Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce working group. Based in part on AAI and broader biomedical research community feedback, NIH is implementing initiatives to increase diversity in the scientific workforce, including enhanced data collection to track outcomes, a new National Research Mentoring Network to connect young scientists with experienced mentors, and the NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity Consortium, to increase graduate training enrollment among college graduates from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in biomedical research. Boyaka currently serves as an abstract programming chair for the annual meeting, having previously served as an associate editor for The Journal of Immunology.