Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"For pioneering contributions to the understanding of electronic properties of materials, especially novel forms of carbon."
Mildred Dresselhaus has an A.B. from Hunter College (1951) and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1958). After an NSF postdoctoral fellowship at Cornell University, she became a staff member at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (1960). In 1968 she became an MIT faculty member and in 1985 an Institute Professor.
While at Lincoln Laboratory she started to study the electronic properties of semiconductors and soon was drawn into extending magneto-optic techniques to study the electronic structure of a variety of semimetals. Her success with Gene Dresselhaus in illuminating the electronic structure and Fermi surface of graphite led to explorations of graphite intercalation compounds where single graphene layers sandwiched between guest species could be explored within the context of low dimensional physics. Further study of carbon fibers and liquid carbon led her early entry into studies on fullerenes and carbon nanotubes as these fields were emerging. Her studies illuminated the unique electronic structure of carbon nanotubes and the use of spectroscopy to probe the geometric structure of individual nanotubes.
Mildred Dresselhaus was President of the American Physical Society (1984), now chairs the Board of the American Institute of Physics, was Treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences (1992-96), and President of the American Association for the Advancemment of Science (1997). She is the recipient of the National Medal of Science (1990), 24 honorary doctorates and many other awards.