Photo of Mildred S. Dresselhaus

Mildred S. Dresselhaus

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering
For her studies of the electronic properties of metals and semimetals, and for her service to the Nation in establishing a prominent place for women in physics and engineering.

With more than half a century of research, discoveries and awards under her belt, engineer and physicist Mildred Dresselhaus has truly earned her title — “Queen of Carbon.”

Since the 1950s, Dresselhaus has spent her career studying metals and semimetals, like carbon. Her research of carbon as a superconductor paved the way for advances in the field of nanotechnology.

In addition to her work inside the lab, Dresselhaus also uses her resources to advocate for women in scientific fields like physics and engineering. She draws on her own experience getting ahead in a male-dominated field.

In 2012, Dresselhaus told the New York Times that she didn’t even consider a career in science until she was in college.

“At that time, there were only three kinds of jobs commonly open to women: teaching, nursing and secretarial work,” she said in the interview.

But Dresselhaus’ passion for science ran deep — so deep that she continues to work in the lab at age 85.

By Rachel Warren