President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
22nd Annual MLK Leadership Award
Dr. Shirley Jackson received her bachelor's degree in physics from MIT in 1968, and in 1973 she became the first African-American woman to receive the PhD from MIT. Her career as a physicist has been conducted in both industrial and academic settings. For 15 years, she was a research physicist at AT&T Bell Labs and later became a professor of physics at Rutgers University. In addition, she has served in numerous advisory capacities for the profession and for the federal government. She is also a life member of the MIT Corporation and has served as a member of its Executive Committee. During the past year, she has taken leave from these responsibilities in order to serve as chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the agency responsible for the civilian use and disposal of nuclear materials in the United States. Throughout her career, Dr. Jackson has demonstrated a distinguished and unwavering commitment to physics and higher education, and she has served as a leader, role model and mentor to so many people at MIT and throughout the scientific community. Shirley, your dedication to excellence in all that you do is a fitting tribute to Dr. King's legacy."