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Women of the Hall

Year Honored: 1998
Birth: 1946 -
Born In: Washington, DC
Achievements: Education, Science
Educated In: Washington, DC; Massachusetts
Schools Attended: Roosevelt High School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Worked In: New York, New Jersey, Maryland

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Shirley Ann Jackson

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, a visionary scientist, educator and public policy innovator, has broken barriers and blazed trails throughout her life.

Dr. Jackson was one of the first two African American women to receive a doctorate in physics in the United States and was the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Committed to promoting social justice, she organized MIT's Black Student Union and worked to increase the number of blacks entering MIT. After only one year, the number entering rose from 2 to 57.

A renowned physicist, Dr. Jackson was appointed Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1995 by President William Clinton. While there, she enhanced the commission's regulatory effectiveness and initiated a bottom-up strategic assessment of all NRC activities. As the first African American woman to serve on the NRC and the first woman and African American to lead the entity, Dr. Jackson reaffirmed that agency's commitment to public health and safety.

In 1999, Dr. Jackson became the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological university in the United States, and has led an extraordinary transformation of the school since her arrival through an ambitious strategic initiative known as The Rensselaer Plan.

Dr. Jackson's numerous awards and wide-ranging work demonstrate the capability of women and minorities to join the leadership ranks in science and technology, education and public policy. A 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for a 'lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy,' Dr. Jackson holds 45 honorary doctoral degrees and is the recipient of countless other awards.

Time Magazine quite aptly described Dr. Jackson in 2005 as "perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science."
Additional Sources:
Ambrose, Susan A. Journeys of women in science and engineering: no universal constants. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997. NOTES: ""Labor and social change"" series. Includes bibliographical references (p. 451-456) and indexes.

Sullivan, Otha Richards and Jin Haskins. Black Stars: African American Scientists and Inventors. Wiley, 2001. NOTES: Juvenile literature, grades 7-10.

Speech August 9, 1985, 0.1 ft. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Institute Archives and Special Collections. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Black Women Achieve Against Odds.