Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Elected AAAS President

December 19, 2002

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson Elected AAAS President

Her Term with the World's Largest General Scientific Society Begins in 2004

Troy, N.Y. — Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., has been elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Triple A-S" (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal, Science.

Jackson will become president of AAAS in February 2004, following the term of Mary Ellen Avery, a pioneer in the field of newborn medicine with Children's Hospital in Boston, who will serve as president in 2003. Jackson will serve as president-elect this year, as president in 2004, and she will chair the AAAS board in 2005.

Jackson, who has served in positions of leadership in both the public and private sectors, is the recipient of numerous awards for her efforts in science and science policy. Most recently she was named one of the Top 50 Women in Science by Discover magazine. As Rensselaer's 18th president, Jackson has been a tireless and outspoken advocate and role model for underrepresented groups 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 AAAS is a strong platform for addressing the urgent issues of harnessing the nation's future science and engineering workforce," said Jackson. "This is especially critical at a time when the role of science and engineering in our national security is recognized as being more important than ever. The nation requires a significant investment in human capital if it is to maintain its pre-eminence. There is no more urgent priority. The very future depends upon it. The association's multidisciplinary construct makes it an important fulcrum for accomplishing this critical goal," she said.

"Young women, African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and persons with disabilities must be encouraged to pursue careers in science and engineering, and new ways must be found to enable them to succeed," she said.

The election of Jackson as president coincides with several other notable AAAS events involving women at the highest ranks of the organization that would seem to constitute an ideological sea change for women in science and technology: In addition to the elections of Jackson and Avery, Shirley Malcom, head of the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources, recently received the prestigious Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences.

"Dr. Jackson's record of professional accomplishment is exemplary, and we're very pleased to welcome her in her new role as president-elect of AAAS," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of its journal, Science. "We're also delighted to see more women and underrepresented scientists achieving positions of leadership - both within our association and throughout the scientific community. The face of science is changing and becoming more inclusive, which inevitably enriches the scientific enterprise."

Jackson is the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). She is one of the first two African-American women in the United States to receive a doctorate in physics. She is the first African-American to become a commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). She is both the first woman and the first African-American to serve as the chairman of the NRC, and the first African-American woman to lead a national research university. She is also the first African-American woman elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Her research specialty is in theoretical condensed matter physics, especially layered systems and the physics of opto-electronic materials.

Jackson was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1998 for her significant and profound contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for education, science, and public policy. She was inducted into the Women in Technology International Foundation Hall of Fame (WITI) in June 2000. WITI recognizes women technologists and scientists whose achievements are exceptional.

Jackson was a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University from 1991 to 1995, and a theoretical physicist from 1976 to 1991 at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J.

Jackson recently was named to the board of the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) (www.nibib1.nih.gov) of the National Institutes of Health. She serves as a trustee of the Brookings Institution. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness, on the Council of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable, and as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. In 2001 she was the recipient of the "Immortal Award" for the 15th Annual Black History Makers Award sponsored by Associated Black Charities.

About the AAAS
AAAS seeks to "advance science and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people." The AAAS Board has set the following broad goals: Foster communication among scientists, engineers, and the public; enhance international cooperation in science and its applications; promote the responsible conduct and use of science and technology; foster education in science and technology for everyone; enhance the science and technology workforce and infrastructure; increase public understanding and appreciation of science and technology; and strengthen support for the science and technology enterprise.

Contact: Megan Galbraith
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