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Shirley Jackson speaks about her career and being an agent for change
Shirley Ann Jackson Shirley Ann Jackson

On Sept. 26, Shirley Ann Jackson ’68 PhD ’73 returned to campus for a discussion with an audience of students, alumni, and friends about her career highlights and the direction of science education.

Jackson is the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and an MIT Corporation life member. She received her bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1968, continuing her graduate work, in part, to create opportunities for other underrepresented minorities at MIT. She earned a doctorate in particle physics in 1973, becoming the first African American woman to receive a PhD from MIT and the second African American woman in the United States to earn a doctorate in physics.

Roughly 100 people, including students, alumni, and administrators joined Jackson for the conversation in the Media Lab, while others joined the live Facebook webcast. Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering and the head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, facilitated the conversation hosted by MIT School of Science, MIT School of Engineering, and the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation (NSTMF).
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