Courtesy of Black Past

376: Shirley Ann Jackson

Pioneering Physicist

Born: 5 August 1946, Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America

Shirley was the first African-American woman to receive a PhD from MIT (in Physics). She was also the second African American woman overall to receive a Physics PhD in the United States.

Her research laid the groundwork for others to invent fiber optic cables, portable fax, touch tone telephone, and the technology behind caller ID and call waiting.

Shirley has worked on many boards of famous companies, including: IBM, FedEx, Marathon Oil, the Smithsonian Institution, and many more.

In 1995, Shirley was appointed Chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission by then-President Bill Clinton. She was the first African American woman to serve on the commission, and also the first woman and first African American to run it.

She was also the first African American woman to be elected president and later chairman of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the first African American woman to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Shirley also serves as the President of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (unsurprisingly, as the first African American woman to do so). She began her work as President there in 1999.

She is married to a fellow physicist and has one son.

Badges Earned:

Located In My Personal Library:

The Book of Awesome Women: Boundary Breakers, Freedom Fighters, Sheroes, and Female Firsts by Becca Anderson