Today, "Photo Friday" is a picture of President Barack Obama greeting recipients of the 2010 Fermi Award in the Oval Office in 2012. Third from the right in this photo is MIT Professor Emerita Mildred Dresselhaus.

Called the "Queen of Carbon" for her pioneering research in carbon-based materials including buckminsterfullerenes (buckyballs), nanotubes and graphene, Professor Dresselhaus's career spanned more than half a century. Over this time, Dresselhaus paved the way for many women working in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She also served as the:

  • Director of the Office of Science at the US Department of Energy
  • President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Treasurer of the US National Academy of Sciences
  • President of the American Physical Society
  • Chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics

Dresselhaus received numerous awards during her career, including the US National Medal of Science, the Enrico Fermi Award, the Kavli Prize, and the C3E Lifetime Achievement Award and held 28 honorary doctorates worldwide. In November 2014, Dresselhaus received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. government’s highest civilian honor. In the presentation ceremony, President Obama stated that “her influence is all around us, in the cars we drive, the energy we generate, the electronic devices that power our lives." In 2015, she became the first woman ever to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor for her leadership and contributions across many fields of science and engineering. 

Dresselhause was also a caring and thoughtful mentor – not to mention becoming a mother of four and a grandmother of five.

Professor Mildred Dresselhaus passed away in February at the age of 86.