Shirley Ann Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. in 1946.
She absorbed her father's Principle. "Aim for the stars."
"Aim for the stars," he urged each of his children. "So
that you can reach the treetops, and at least you'll get off the
ground." His advice took hold. By the time she was 8, Shirley Ann
Jackson already was taking aim——developing passions for science, for
knowledge, for accomplishment.
She graduated as valedictorian from the segregated Roosevelt High
School in Washington D.C. in the 1960s and then joined the first wave of
African -American students to be accepted at MIT. She was one of only
two African -American women in her undergraduate class, and the first to
earn a doctorate from that institution. She was one of the first two
African-American women in the United States to earn a doctorate in
Jackson had been accepted at another institution for her graduate
work, but chose to remain at MIT and encourage the enrollment of more
black students there. The number of blacks entering MIT went from two to
She received her B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in
1968 and her Ph.D. (Physics) in 1973. Shirley Jackson became the first
African American female to receive a doctorate in Theoretical Solid
State physics from MIT. Jackson is now a life member of the MIT
Corporation, the institution's board of trustees
Dr. Jackson became a Research Associate in Theoretical Physics at
the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory from 1973_1974 and served as a
Visiting Science Associate at the European Organization for Nuclear
Research (1974_1975). In 1975_76, Dr. Jackson returned to Fermi National
Accelerator Laboratory as a Research Associate in Theoretical Physics.
She spent 1976_77 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Aspen
Center for Physics. Dr. Jackson then served on the Technical Staff of
Bell Telephone Laboratories in theoretical physics from 1976 until 1978.
In 1978 Shirley Jackson began working with the Technical Staff of the
Scattering and Low Energy Physics Research Laboratory of Bell Telephone
From 1976 to 1991 Dr. Jackson was appointed as Professor of Physics
at Rutgers University in Piscataway, N.J. From 1991 to 1995, Dr. Jackson
serving concurrently with her professorship at Rutgers as a consultant
in semiconductor theory to AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill,
N.J. Dr. Jackson was appointed as Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission and assumed the Chairmanship on May 2, 1995.
"Although Dr. Jackson took her doctorate in theoretical high
energy physics, and later switched fields to theoretical condensed
matter physics." Comment from Claude Poux, Dartmouth College. email
communication (February 7, 1997) Her research has focused on Landau
theories of charge density waves in one_ and two dimensions. Dr.
Jackson's research also touched on two dimensional Yang_Mills gauge
theories and neutrino reactions.
"I am interested in the electronic, optical, magnetic, and
transport properties of novel semiconductor systems. Of special
interest are the behavior of magnetic polarons in semimagnetic and
dilute magnetic semiconductors, and the optical response properties of
semiconductor quantum wells and superlattices. My interests also
include quantum dots, mesoscopic systems, and the role of
antiferromagnetic fluctuations in correlated 2D electron
Professor Shirley Jackson
She has been awarded 10 honorary doctoral degrees. For
her work as a scientist, as an advocate for education, science and public
policy, Jackson was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in
Photo by: Gary Gold
Shirley Ann Jackson
on the patio at the president's official residence
The Honorable Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Chairman of the U.S.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has been named the 18th president of
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was inaugurated Sept. 24th.
Jackson is married to Dr. Morris A. Washington, also a physicist.
They have one son, Alan
Left: Jackson and Husband Dr. Morris A Washington. Above: son
Photos by: Gary Gold
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