“Yesterday, we lost a giant – an exceptionally creative scientist and engineer who was also a delightful human being. Millie Dresselhaus began life as the child of poor Polish immigrants in the Bronx; by the end, she was Institute Professor Emerita, the highest distinction awarded by the MIT faculty. A physicist, materials scientist and electrical engineer, she was known as the “Queen of Carbon” because her work paved the way for much of today’s carbon-based nanotechnology.’ In 2014, Millie won the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States. I believe she earned this distinction because the way that she led her life in science represented citizenship in the highest sense.”(Excerpt from MITNEWS President L. Rafael Reif, Feb21, 2017.)
Only a few days before her death, GE produced a commercial titled “What if female scientists were celebrities?” profiling Millie as a role model promoting and encouraging women to pursue science and technical roles. This video will be a lasting legacy for the general public who otherwise would not know this remarkable woman.
I did not know Millie as a scientist nor was I conversant in her work with carbon based nanotechnology. I did however know her as a mother and grandmother who raised her family to be strong and search out and pursue their dreams. I know she was at her lab last Monday doing science and one week later, she passed away. While the scientific community has lost a renowned physicist, my sympathies are directed to the Dresselhaus family who has lost their mother (and inlaw), wife and grandmother.