Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Named One of the “50 Most Important Women in Science” by Discover Magazine
Troy, N.Y. — President Shirley Ann Jackson has been named
one of the “50 Most Important Women in Science” by
Discover magazine. The women were chosen from across
scientific disciplines for their groundbreaking scientific
discoveries, their leadership, and their fearlessness in
shattering the scientific glass ceiling. The November issue of
Discover magazine is currently on newsstands.
“To read their stories is to understand how important it is
that the barriers facing women in science be broken down as
quickly and as entirely as possible,” says Discover’s
associate editor, Kathy A. Svitil. “It will take goodwill and
hard work to make science a good choice for a woman, but it is
an effort at which we cannot afford to fail.”
Jackson is one of only two university presidents to be named
in the story, the other being Princeton President and molecular
biologist Shirley Tilghman.
Jackson’s citation reads:
The second African-American woman in the United States to earn
a doctorate in physics, Jackson says her science education
informed her work as an administrator, first as chair of the
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now at Rensselaer.
“I was educated to address complex problems by having an
intuition about the answer and by learning to break the
problems down into parts that can more easily be solved. So I
view myself as both a visionary and a pragmatist.”
As Rensselaer’s 18th president, Jackson has been a tireless
and outspoken advocate and role model for young women in
science. She embraced the term “Affirmative Opportunity” as a
rallying cry to all segments of society to engage talent from
every sector of the population.
“The demographic reality is this: when you combine these
groups — ethnic minorities, women, and persons with
disabilities — you have a majority of the population,” said
Jackson. “This new majority comprises the engineers of the
future, and the future of engineering, and of science.”
In a recent white paper for BEST (Building Engineering &
Science Talent), Jackson identifies what she calls “The Quiet
Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and
Technical Talent” and calls upon policymakers to integrate
underrepresented groups into the technical workforce.
“There is a quiet crisis building in the United States — a
crisis that could jeopardize the nation’s pre-eminence and
well-being,” said Jackson. “The crisis stems from the gap
between the nation’s growing need for scientists, engineers,
and other technologically skilled workers, and its production
of them. It has been mounting gradually, but inexorably, and if
permitted to continue, it could undermine the global leadership
America currently enjoys.”
Jackson holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from M.I.T.
(1973) and a B.S. in physics from M.I.T. (1968). She is a
member of the National Academy of Engineering (2001). She also
is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
(1991), and the American Physical Society (1986). She is a
member of a number of other professional organizations. Jackson
holds 18 honorary doctoral degrees.
In January 2001, Jackson received the “Richtmyer Memorial
Lecture Award” from the American Association of Physics
Teachers. In 1993 she was awarded the New Jersey Governor’s
Award in Science (the “Thomas Alva Edison Award”).
She serves as a trustee of the Brookings Institution. She also
serves on the Executive Committee of the Council on
Competitiveness, and on the Council of the
Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable. She is a
Life Member of the M.I.T. Corporation (the M.I.T. Board of
Trustees). She also is a trustee of the Liberty Science Center
(N.J.), the Pingry School (Martinsville, N.J.), and the Emma
Willard School (Troy, N.Y.).
Contact: Megan Galbraith
Phone: (518) 276-6531