Michele Dufault Summer Research Fellowship and Conference Fund

About Michele


Michele Dufault 2012

Michele Dufault, Yale College class of 2011 (Saybrook), died in a tragic accident on April 12, 2011.  Michele was a Physics & Astronomy major, a strong supporter of other women in science, and a leader among leaders. As a freshman, Michele developed a passion for astronomy and physics after taking a survey course on exoplanets, black holes, and dark energy. Her first summer research project, at Yale, involved identifying galaxies in a deep survey of the cosmos. The following summer she worked at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii, studying infrared emission from massive, merging galaxies. Her third and last summer, she spent at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, working on robotic underwater vehicles. Michele was planning to continue work in ocean sciences at the University of Washington following her graduation from Yale. She died in a machine shop while finalizing her senior thesis project, an effort to develop a detector for low‐mass dark matter particles.

Michele was passionate about science. Her infectious enthusiasm, curiosity, generosity and energy touched all those who knew her. It is fitting that an asteroid, in orbit about 3 AU from the Sun (between Mars and Jupiter), has recently been named after Michele. In honor of Michele’s tremendous contributions to Yale’s undergraduate science community, and to recognize her passion for science and for encouraging young women to pursue science careers, Yale's Physics Department has established the Michele Dufault Summer Research Fellowship and Conference Fund. While it is their ultimate goal to raise $100,000 to endow this fund in perpetuity, in the event they are not able to realize that goal, they will instead create an expendable fund that will support activities in her name until the funds have been expended (not less than 10 years).

About the Fund

The Michele Dufault Summer Research Fellowship and Conference Fund will support a summer fellowship for a Yale undergraduate woman in the physical sciences, especially Physics, Astronomy or Geology & Geophysics, which were the areas of greatest interest to Michele. This fund would also be used to support conferences that encourage young women to pursue the physical sciences, such as the Conference on Undergraduate Women in Physics, which has been held at Yale three of the past four years. Michele Dufault was a great champion of this meeting and its most committed organizer. There could be no greater monument to Michele than a steady stream of young women becoming scientists in part thanks to the support and information and collegiality offered by this Conference.

How to Contribute

To contribute to the fund, please write a check payable to Yale University, note on the check that it is for the “Michele Dufault Summer Fellowship and Conference Fund” and mail it c/o the Physics Department, PO Box 208120, New Haven CT 06520‐8120. The Department will transfer your check to the Development Office promptly (they are stewards of the fund for the department). You may also give online by visiting the Yale Development Office website.
Gray Arrow Yale Development Office

Please select “new gift,” “other,” when asked which area at Yale you would like to support, and then “Michele Dufault Fund" when prompted.