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Mildred S. Dresselhaus

Mildred Dresselhaus
White House in 2012
Born (1930-11-11) November 11, 1930 (age 83)
Brooklyn, New York
Residence United States
Nationality American
Fields Applied physics
Institutions Cornell
Alma mater Hunter College
Doctoral students Greg Timp
Known for Carbon nanotubes
Notable awards National Medal of Science, Oersted Medal, Enrico Fermi Award, Kavli Prize

Mildred Dresselhaus (born Mildred Spiewak on November 11, 1930 in Brooklyn, New York) known as the "queen of carbon science"[1] is an Institute Professor and Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering (Emerita) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[2]


She was born Mildred Spiewak on November 11, 1930 in Brooklyn.

Dresselhaus received her high school degree at Hunter College High School, undergraduate degree at Hunter College in New York, and carried out postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge on a Fulbright Fellowship and Harvard University. She received a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1958. She then spent two years at Cornell University as a postdoc before moving to Lincoln Lab as a staff member. She became a visiting professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT in 1967, became a tenured faculty member in 1968, and became a professor of Physics in 1983. She was promoted to Institute Professor in 1985.

Dresselhaus was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1990 in recognition of her work on electronic properties of materials as well as expanding the opportunities of women in science and engineering.[3][4] and in 2005 she was awarded the 11th Annual Heinz Award in the category of Technology, the Economy and Employment.[5] In 2008 she was awarded the Oersted Medal.

In 2000–2001, she was the Director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. From 2003-2008, she was the Chair of the governing board of the American Institute of Physics. She also has served as President of the American Physical Society, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences. Dresselhaus has devoted a great deal of time to supporting efforts to promote increased participation of women in physics.

In a United States Department of Energy article of January 11, 2012, President Barack Obama announced that Mildred Dresselhaus is co-recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award, along with Burton Richter.[6] In May 31, 2012, Dresselhaus was awarded the Kavli Prize[1] "for her pioneering contributions to the study of phonons, electron-phonon interactions, and thermal transport in nanostructures."[7]

In 2010, Mildred Dresselhaus won the ACS Award for Encouraging Women into Careers in the Chemical Sciences.

Dresselhaus is particularly noted for her work on graphite, graphite intercalation compounds, fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and low dimensional thermoelectrics. Her group has made frequent use of electronic band structure, Raman scattering and the photophysics of carbon nanostructures. Dresselhaus' former students include such notable materials scientists as Deborah Chung and notable physicists as Nai-Chang Yeh, Greg Timp, Mansour Shayegan, James S. Speck, Lourdes Salamanca Riba, and Ahmet Erbil.

There are several physical theories named after Dresselhaus. The Hicks-Dresselhaus Model (L. D. Hicks and Mildred Dresselhaus) [8] is the first basic model for low-dimensional thermoelectrics, which initiated the whole brand field. The SFDD model (Riichiro Saito, Mitsutaka Fujita, Gene Dresselhaus, and Mildred Dresselhaus) [9] first predicted the band structures of carbon nanotubes. The Tang-Dresselhaus Theory (Shuang Tang and Mildred Dresselhaus) [10] has developed a methodology for studying narrow-band low dimensional materials systems, and is also the first theory on how to construct various Dirac-cone materials, including single-Dirac-cone materials, bi-Dirac-cone materials, tri-Dirac-cone materials, quasi-Dirac-cone materials, semi-Dirac-cone materials and exact-Dirac-cone materials. The Rashba-Dresselhaus Effect refers to the spin-orbital interaction effect modeled by Gene Dresselhaus, Mildred Dresselhaus’s husband.

She is married to Gene Dresselhaus, a well-known theorist, and has four grown children and several grandchildren.

Selected publications

  • United States Department of Energy, (December 1986).
  • United States Department of Energy, (July 1990).
  • United States Department of Energy, (August 1990).
  • United States Department of Energy, (January 20, 1995).
  • United States Department of Energy, (February 20, 2007).


External links

  • Freeview video interview with Millie Dresslhaus by the Vega Science Trust
  • Homepage
  • Dresselhaus's MIT Page
  • Biography of Dresselhaus from IEEE
  • United States Department of Energy

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