Farewell to the “queen of carbon science”

The material science community says farewell to a legend – Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor Emerita at MIT, died at the age of 86.

Nicknamed “the queen of carbon science”, prof. Dresselhaus studied various aspects of graphite, including nanomaterials such as graphene, carbon nanotubes, and fullerene. She made some fundamental discoveries on the electronic structure of semi-metals, having co-authored about 1,700 journal papers and eight books on the topic.

A member of the MIT faculty for 50 years, prof. Dresselhaus mentored several students that are now department heads at the university. Her scientific contributions were recognized with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a civilian can receive from the US government, a Medal of Science, given to US national top scientists, the IEEE Medal of Honor, the Enrico Fermi Award, and many others.

Mildred was the first woman to attain full professorship at MIT, the first solo recipient of a Kavli Prize, and the first woman to win the National Medal of Science in Engineering. She will be remembered as a strong role model for women in STEM. Dresselhouse also served in numerous science leadership roles, including as the director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy, as president of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as chair of the governing board of the American Institute of Physics, as co-chair of the recent Decadal Study of Condensed Matter and Materials Physics, and as treasurer of the National Academy of Sciences.

The whole Graphenea team will miss her inspiration and tireless dedication.