The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson
The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., is the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the United States, where she has led an extraordinary transformation since 1999. Described by Time magazine as “perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science,” Dr. Jackson has held senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. A theoretical physicist, she holds an S.B. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics, both from MIT.
In September 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Jackson as Co-Chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, where she served until 2017. She served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), 2009-2014, and, as part of PCAST, was Co-Chair of the President’s Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee. She also served on the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Security Advisory Board, 2011-2017, and the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, 2013-2017.
Before taking the helm at Rensselaer, Dr. Jackson was Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), 1995-1999. At the NRC, she conceived and promulgated risk-informed, performance-based regulation and created a new planning, budgeting, and performance management process. During her tenure at the NRC, she spearheaded the formation of the International Nuclear Regulators Association and served as its Chairman, 1997-1999.
Dr. Jackson is a Life Member of the MIT Corporation, and a former Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution. She serves on the boards of corporations that include FedEx and PSEG. She also serves on the Global Board of Directors for The Nature Conservancy.
Dr. Jackson is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, American Philosophical Society, and Council on Foreign Relations. She is an international fellow of the British Royal Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Physical Society, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Jackson is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 2016, United States President Barack Obama awarded Dr. Jackson the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor in science and engineering.
Most recently, she was named the 2021 recipient of the American Association of Physics Teachers Oersted Medal, the 2021 recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award, and the 2019 recipient of the American Physical Society Joseph A. Burton Forum Award. In 2018, Dr. Jackson was awarded the W.E.B. DuBois Medal from the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
In 2007, describing her as “a national treasure,” the National Science Board selected Dr. Jackson as the recipient of The Vannevar Bush Award for “a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy.”
Dr. Jackson holds 55 honorary doctoral degrees.