A Blunt View of the Cutting Edge

Rensselaer Polytechnic's Shirley Ann Jackson warns of a day of reckoning if the U.S. doesn't nurture young scientists and engineers

In 1973, Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in theoretical physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That was just the beginning of a mold-breaking career. Since then, Jackson has racked up these achievements: She's president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute since 1999, and the first African American to chair the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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