Institute Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Inducted in 1998
Professor Mildred Dresselhaus is known internationally for her broad contributions to condensed matter and materials physics, especially for her contributions to advancing carbon science and its novel nanomaterials. Following her doctoral studies, Dr. Dresselhaus spent two years at Cornell University as an NSF postdoctoral fellow, and then seven years as a staff member of the MIT Lincoln Laboratory where she started her studies of carbon science. She joined the MIT faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 1967 and then joined the Department of Physics in 1983. She held the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé chair in electrical engineering and physics and was appointed as an Institute Professor in 1985. She served as the Director of the Office of Science at the US Department of Energy in 2000-2001.
She is active in the study of a wide range of problems in the physics of solids but has made her most notable contributions to carbon science with special attention given to carbon nanostructures. As an MIT professor she has had an opportunity to work at the cutting edge of developing and understanding novel forms of nanostructured carbons such as intercalation compounds, carbon nanotubes and graphene. Over 70 Ph.D. advisees and hundreds of graduate students in the classroom have trained with her and have gone on to advance science and technology broadly.
Professor Dresselhaus is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the IEEE, the Society of Women Engineers, the American Association of the Advancement of Science, and the American Carbon Society. She has served as President of the American Physical Society (1984), President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS 1997), Treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences (1992-96), and Chair of the Board of the American Institute of Physics (2003-2008).
Professor Dresselhaus received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science (1990), 24 honorary doctorates, the Nicholson Medal for Humanitarian Service (1999 American Physical Society), the Compton Award (2001 American Institute of Physics), the Founders Medal (2004 IEEE), the Heinz Award for Technology, Employment and the Economy (2005), The L'Oreal-UNESCO North American Laureate Award for Women in Science (2007), The Oersted Medal (2008 American Association for Physics Teachers), and the Buckley Prize (2008 American Physical Society).
Professor Dresselhaus is the author of four books on carbon science. She has been guided by a desire to advance the frontiers of science and to serve the scientific community through their professional societies and in training the next generation of researchers.