Home » Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, scientist First African American PHD Graduate from MIT

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Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson
August 5, 1946
Scientist

THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMAN TO EARN A DOCTORATE AT MIT

She is an accomplished is an American physicist and the eighteenth president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She received her P.H.D in nuclear physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973, becoming. Jackson was born in Washington D.C. Her parents Beatrice and George Jackson. She was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 for “her significant contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for education, science, and public policy”. In 2002, she was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science by DISCOVER magazine. Dr.Jackson has received many fellowships, including the Martin Marietta Aircraft Company Scholarship and Fellowship, the Prince Hall Masons Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Traineeship, and a Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship. She has been elected to numerous special societies, including the American Physical Society and American Philosophical Society.

“Shirley the Great.” That’s what Shirley Ann Jackson, at age 4, declared to her mother she would someday be called.
Dr. Shirley Passion for the world of science began at the age of 8. Her parents infused her interest with books ect. She graduated as valedictorian from Theodore Roosevelt High School and then joined the first African American students to be accepted at MIT. She received her B. S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 and her Ph.D. (Physics) in 1973. During that time (1964-68), Jackson became a scholar at Martin Marietta Aircraft Corporation.
She has spent her entire enforcing her career by researching, inventing and teaching particle physics – the branch of physics that uses theories and mathematics to predict the existence of subatomic particles and forces that bind them together. Dr. Jackson is also the former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and she is the current 18th President of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. In Troy New York in which she also holds the titles of Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy ,Professor of Engineering Sciences . In addition to her academic achievements, she also has an impressive list of inventions to her credit. Her experiments with theoretical physics are responsible for many telecommunications developments, including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting and the fiber-optic cable.
Her achievements in science and education have been recognized with multiple awards, including the CIBA-GEIGY Exceptional Black Scientist Award. In the early 1990s, Governor James Florio awarded her the Thomas Alva Edison Science Award for her contributions to physics and for the promotion of science. In 2001 she received the Richtmyer Memorial Award given annually by the American Association of Physics Teachers. She has also received numerous honorary doctorate degrees.
She was inducted into National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1998 for “her significant contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for education, science, and public policy”. In 2002, she was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science by Discover magazine Dr. Jackson has also been active in professional associations and in serving society through public scientific commissions. In 1985, Governor Thomas Kean appointed her to the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology. She is an active voice in numerous committees of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Science Foundation. Her continuing aim has been to preserve and strengthen the U.S. national capacity for innovation by increasing support for basic research in science and engineering. This is done in part by attracting talent from abroad and by expanding the domestic talent pool by attracting women and members of under-represented groups into careers in science. In 2004, she became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chaired the AAAS board in 2005.
In spring 2007, she was awarded the Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy”.
Jackson continues to be involved in politics and public policy. In 2008 she became the University Vice Chairman of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a non-for profit group based in Washington DC.
In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Jackson to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
She was appointed an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2012.
Dr. Shirley Jackson serves on the boards of directors:
New York Stock Exchange
IBM Corporation
FedEx Corporation
Marathon Oil Corporation
Medtronic Inc.
Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated
Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents
Council on Foreign Relations, Board of Directors
U.S. Council on Competitiveness, Vice Chair
Brookings Institution Trustee
The Hyde Collection, Board of Directors
Life Member of the MIT Corporation (MIT Board of Trustees)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Past President (2004) and former Chair of the Board (2005)
Former Trustee of the Pingry School

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