President Obama Names Hunter Alumna Mildred Dresselhaus Winner of Prestigious Award for Scientific Achievement

January 13, 2012 | Hunter College

President Obama has named Dr. Mildred S. Dresselhaus (Hunter ’51) as one of two recipients of the Enrico Fermi Award, a prestigious award for scientific achievement. The award, honoring the memory of Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, is administered on behalf of the White House by the U.S Department of Energy. Dresselhaus shares the honor with Dr. Burton Richter of Stanford University.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu congratulated Dresselhaus and Richter, noting “their achievements as pioneers in innovative research.” Dresselhaus was selected for her “scientific leadership, her major contributions to science and energy policy, her selfless work in science education and the advancement of diversity in the scientific workplace, and her highly original research.”

Born and raised in New York City, Dresselhaus was inspired at Hunter College by future Nobel Laureate Rosalyn Yalow, who recognized her talent and encouraged her to pursue science. Dresselhaus graduated summa cum laude from Hunter and received a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1958. Her extensive portfolio of research accomplishments includes many discoveries leading to fundamental understanding in various condensed matter systems.

A professor of physics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dresselhaus has served in many scientific roles, including President of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.