Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), has been president of RPI since 1999. A theoretical physicist, her career has been marked by a series of "firsts." In 1995, she was the first African-American woman appointed to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where she is credited with overhauling procedures and processes in planning, budgeting, safety evaluation and performance management. She is the first African-American to earn a Ph.D. in any field from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the first African-American woman to head a national research university.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Physical Society, Jackson strives to encourage minority students to pursue careers in the sciences. She earned her baccalaureate degree in physics at MIT.