MIT Institute Professor Emeritus wins Enrico Fermi Award

MIT Institute Professor Emeritus wins Enrico Fermi Award

Last week President Obama named Mildred S. Dresselhaus, emeritus institute professor of physics and electrical engineering and computer science, and Burton Richter ’52, emeritus professor in the physical sciences at Stanford, as this year’s winners of the Enrico Fermi Award. The award is given “to encourage excellence in research in energy science and technology benefiting mankind,” according to its description. Etablished in 1956 to honor the accomplishments of 1938 physics Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, the award carries a gold medal and an honorarium of $50,000, shared equally by its recipients.

For the past 50 year at MIT and the Lincoln Laboratory, Dresselhaus contributed extensive research that led to fundamental understandings in the field of condensed matter physics. Her research group has drawn much attention for its work in the areas of carbon nanotubes, bismuth nanowires, and low dimension thermoelectricity.

Dresselhaus has served in numerous scientific leadership roles, including as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Treasurer of the US National Academy of Sciences, President of the American Physical Society, and Chair of the Governing Board of the American Institute of Physics. Her other accolades include the U.S. National Medal of Science and 23 honorary doctorates worldwide.

According the MIT News Office, outside the laboratory, Dresselhaus is widely known for her commitment to mentoring students, especially as a mentor and advocate for women in science.

Richter was selected based on his work on electron-positron colliders, his leadership as director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, and his national and international contributions in energy policy, according to the official award citation.

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will present the award to Dresselhaus and Richter in Washington on a later date. For more information on Dresselhaus and her research, check her faculty website at

—Adisa Kruayatidee