Mildred Dresselhaus, Carbon Science Pioneer, Dies at 86

The “queen of carbon science,” Mildred Dresselhaus, has passed away at the age of 86.

Dresselhaus was a recipient of both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Science, solidifying her role as a leader in the scientific community and an advocate for women in STEM.

Among her scientific contributions, Dresselhaus is perhaps most known for playing a key role in unlocking the mysteries of carbon. Her contributions to fundamental research in the electronic structure of semi-materials and initial insight into fullerenes have made an extensive impact on the scientific community.

“We lost a giant — an exceptionally creative scientist and engineer who was also a delightful human being,” MIT President L. Rafael Reif wrote in a statement. “Among her many ‘firsts,’ in 1968, Millie became the first woman at MIT to attain the rank of full, tenured professor. She was the first solo recipient of a Kavli Prize and the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering.”

Additionally, Dresselhaus was an advocate for women in STEM, making a long standing commitment to promoting gender equality in science and engineering.

This from MIT:

In 1971, Dresselhaus and a colleague organized the first Women’s Forum at MIT as a seminar exploring the roles of women in science and engineering. She received a Carnegie Foundation grant in 1973 to support her efforts to encourage women to enter traditionally male dominated fields of science and engineering. For a number of years, she led an MIT seminar in engineering for first-year students; designed to build the confidence of female students, it always drew a large audience of both men and women.

Read the full release.

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