Dr. Shirley Jackson

Dr. Shirley Jackson

Physicist

Dr. Shirley Jackson is a theoretical physicist and the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and founded the MIT Black Student Union, increasing African-American enrollment from two to 57 in only one year. While working at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Rutgers University, she prepared or collaborated on over 100 scientific articles. She was the first female and African-American President of RPI and introduced the Rensselaer Plan, improving the school’s academics and enrollment. She was appointed Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission where she established a strategic assessment program, completely remaking the program to become more efficient. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Dr. Shirley Jackson the National Medal of Science, the highest honor to individuals who made contributions to scientific fields.

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