Queen Of Carbon, Mildred Dresselhaus - Small Things Done With Big Love

In an alternative reality Mildred Dresselhaus would really have been revered and feted as a celebrity per General Electric’s “What if female scientists were celebrities” campaign to encourage women into STEM fields.

First MIT female Institute Professor as well as recipient of an Enrico Fermi Award and National Medal of Science (and others!) Mildred Dresselhaus was a pioneering nanotechnologist combining chemistry, physics and electrical engineering to become known as the Queen of Carbon. She was born on 11 November 1930 and died 20 Feb 2017.

Her groundwork in the chemistry and electronic properties of carbon allotropes, particularly carbon nanotubes, and other materials led to the Nobel Prize for Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for isolating and characterizing graphene. She was also awarded the first solo Kavli Prize for Nanoscience for her “pioneering contributions to the study of phonons, electron-phonon interactions, and thermal transport in nanostructures”. Her work enabled electronics to be everywhere including clothing and our ubiquitous smartphones and may yet help us repair the climate if we can use nanotubes for much more efficient power networks. Like many women in her shoes she devoted a great deal of time to supporting efforts to promote increased participation of women and the disadvantaged in science.

For those interested in finding out more about this remarkable person Maia Weinstock wrote a very readable biography of Professor Dresselhaus aptly called “The Remarkable Life of Nanoscience Pioneer Mildred Dresselhaus” and has some video of her discussing the professors life here.

Alternatively here are some videos of Professor Dresselhaus herself discussing her life as a scientist and a longer (c25min) interview. For those with shorter attention spans (well done for reading this far! 😊) a short (c3m) video from Maker is here.

Her life and work is commemorated in part by the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Mildred Dresselhaus Medal, awarded annually "for outstanding technical contributions in science and engineering, of great impact to IEEE fields of interest”