Mildred Dresselhaus, one of the country’s top experts in physics and a leading advocate for women in science and engineering, will give Union’s 72nd Steinmetz Memorial Lecture Tuesday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.
Her talk, “The Promise of Nanomaterials for Thermoelectric Applications,” is free and open to the public.
Once dubbed the “Queen of Carbon Science” for her widely recognized research on carbon science and carbon nanostructures, Dresselhaus has spent more than 40 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she became the first woman to receive the title of Institute Professor, the highest faculty honor.
She also has been honored for her work in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and is credited as one of the researchers whose work on low dimensional thermoelectricity in the early 1990s led to the resurgence of the thermoelectrics field.
Growing up poor in the Bronx, Dresselhaus attended Hunter College in the city, where she began as a math major with the hope of becoming an elementary school teacher. While at Hunter, she met her mentor, Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist Rosalyn Yalow, who encouraged her to study science.
Dresselhaus eventually received a Fulbright Fellowship to study at Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory. She earned her master’s degree at Radcliffe and her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago.
The author or co-author of more than 1,300 publications including books, book chapters, invited review articles and peer reviewed journal articles, Dresselhaus is the co-inventor on five U.S. patents.
Dresselhaus has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science and 25 honorary doctorates worldwide. In 2009, the National Science Board presented her with its Vannevar Bush Award “for her leadership through public service in science and engineering, her perseverance and advocacy in increasing opportunities for women in science, and for her extraordinary contributions in the field of condensed-matter physics and nanoscience.”
In 2010, Union awarded her an honorary doctorate of science at Commencement.
The Steinmetz Memorial Lecture series commemorates world-renowned engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923), professor of electrical engineering at Union from 1902 to 1913 and former president of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. Created in 1925, the series has brought dozens of eminent scientists, engineers and innovators to campus.