12 Black Women Leaders You Need To Know // Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson


Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, a theoretical physicist and famous black inventor, has been credited with making many advances in science. Jackson received a bachelor, and doctoral degree, all in the field of physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Jackson became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. from MIT. Her experiments with theoretical physics are responsible for many telecommunications developments, including the touch-tone telephone, the portable fax, caller ID, call waiting and the fiber-optic cable. On July 1st, 1999, Jackson became the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was the first woman and first African American to hold this position. Since her appointment to president of RPI, Jackson has helped raise over $1 billion in donations for philanthropic causes. Jackson's compensation ranked 1st among USA private university presidents in 2014. Jackson has received many fellowships, including the Martin Marietta Aircraft Company Scholarship and Fellowship, the Prince Hall Masons Scholarship, the National Science Foundation Traineeship, and a Ford Foundation Advanced Study Fellowship. She has been elected to numerous special societies, including the American Physical Society and American Philosophical Society. In 2015, she received the National Medal of Science.