Dresselhaus to receive honorary degree at Dec. 22 commencement

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State will honor Mildred Dresselhaus, one of the world’s foremost experts in the study of carbon science and an Emerita Institute Professor of physics and electrical engineering at MIT, at one of three University Park fall commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 22.

An estimated 154 associate degrees and 2,611 baccalaureate degrees will be conferred at two ceremonies at University Park, over which Penn State President Rodney Erickson will preside. Henry Foley, vice president for Research and dean of the Graduate School, will lead The Graduate School ceremony for 668 expected graduates.

Dresselhaus will receive an honorary doctor of science degree and will speak at the undergraduate ceremony at 12:30 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. Known for her work in magneto-optics, Dresselhaus’s experiments led to a fundamental understanding of the electronic structure of semimetals, especially graphite.

In 1967, she was invited to step out of the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT to become a visiting professor at the university for a year. Finding a brand new passion in teaching undergraduate and graduate students and about working with graduate students on research projects, she accepted her appointment as a tenured full-professor in 1968.

A leader in promoting opportunities for women in science and engineering, Dresselhaus received a Carnegie Foundation grant in 1973 to encourage women’s study of traditionally male-dominated fields such as physics. That same year she was appointed to the Abby Rockefeller Mauze chair, an Institute-wide chair, endowed in support of the scholarship of women in science and engineering. She has served in many other scientific leadership roles, including as the director of the Office of Science in the Department of Energy, president of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chair of the American Institute of Physics Governing Board. She has received the National Medal of Science, the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment and, in 2012, the Enrico Fermi Award from President Obama as well as the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience from King Harald V of Norway. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The 9 a.m. commencement, at which President Rodney Erickson will offer remarks, will include graduates in the College of Agricultural Sciences, Smeal College of Business, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of Engineering and the College of Information Sciences and Technology.

The ceremony for associate degree recipients, the College of Arts and Architecture, College of Communications, College of Education, College of Health and Human Development, College of the Liberal Arts and the Eberly College of Science will begin at 12:30 p.m., also at the Bryce Jordan Center. Charles H. Whiteman, dean of the Smeal College of Business, will address students during The Graduate School commencement, which will begin at 4 p.m. at Eisenhower Auditorium.

At other Penn State campuses, an estimated 108 students will graduate with associate degrees, 1,100 with baccalaureate degrees and 267 with graduate degrees, for a University-wide total of 4,908 fall graduates.

In addition to the commencement ceremonies, the Schreyer Honors College will recognize approximately 36 graduating seniors at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, at Eisenhower Auditorium.

For detailed information about fall commencement events at University Park, visit http://www.commencement.psu.edu. A comprehensive list of commencement speakers and events at all Penn State campuses as well as Penn College is available at http://live.psu.edu/story/63081.

Last Updated December 10, 2012