Prof. Mildred S. Dresselhaus

Nov 11, 1930 — Feb 20, 2017

It is with much sadness that I share with you the news of the passing of our dear friend, Prof. Mildred S. Dresselhaus, at the age of 86. Prof. Dresselhaus was a pioneer in the field of carbon research, transforming it into a popular material for use in materials science and in the nanotechnology industry.

Prof. Dresselhaus was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1930. She received her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1958, and had the privilege of studying under two Nobel laureates during her undergraduate and graduate degrees, both of whom encouraged her to pursue a career in science. She later joined the faculty at MIT and became its first female tenured professor in 1968. Prof. Dresselhaus was a respected scientist and engineer, and her innovative studies in carbon science and its electronic properties paved the way for many new inventions and discoveries in this field and its popularization in nanotechnology. She became known as the “Queen of carbon science,” and was a trailblazer throughout her long career, and no less in her drive to advance and encourage fellow women scientists. She served as a role model and advocate for the promotion of women within the ranks of the generally dominant male field of science and engineering—with much success. She will truly stand out as a legacy for future generations for her many triumphs and achievements. 

Her honors and awards were numerous, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014, and the National Medal of Science in 1990. At the Weizmann Institute she proudly served as Life Member of the International Board, and as a member of the Scientific and Academic Advisory Committee. Prof. Dresselhaus was also a recipient of the Weizmann Institute’s PhD honoris causa in 2003. We were always honored to have this very important association with her, and cherished her friendship and sage advice.

We have lost a true colleague and an exemplary Board member. Prof. Dresselhaus was a modest, intelligent person—and a wonderful friend. We are deeply grateful for all that she has contributed over the years—her time, effort, and energy with a characteristic open mind and heart.

On behalf of the Weizmann Institute, the members of the International Board, and the entire Weizmann Institute family, I extend to all of the Dresselhaus family my condolences for your immeasurable loss.