Dr. Richard A. Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach. Tapia’s current Rice positions are University Professor (only the sixth individual afforded this title in the 100-year history of Rice University), Maxfield-Oshman Professor in Engineering, Director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education, and Director of the Rice Graduate Education for Minorities and Empowering Leadership Alliance Programs.
Tapia was born in Los Angeles to parents who separately emigrated from Mexico as young teenagers in search of educational opportunities for themselves and for future generations. The first in his family to attend college, Tapia went on to receive B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1967 he joined the Department of Mathematics at UCLA and then spent two years on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin. In 1970 he moved to Rice University where he was promoted to associate professor in 1972 and full professor in 1976. He chaired the department from 1978-1983. He is currently an adjunct faculty member of both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Houston. Tapia has authored or co-authored two books and more than 100 mathematical research papers.