Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the first African-American woman to lead a national research university, is scheduled to give this year"s talk. Jackson, a theoretical physicist, exemplifies civic scientist principles through her career encompassing senior positions in government, industry, research and academe.
In addition to her responsibilities as president of RPI, Jackson serves on the board of directors for the New York Stock Exchange Euronext, on the board of regents for the Smithsonian Institute, and as the director of several corporations. As the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a research physicist at the AT&T Bell Laboratories, and a physics professor at Rutgers University, Jackson has had and has utilized many opportunities to share her knowledge of science and the scientific community with the general public. The National Science Board described her as a "national treasure" and selected Jackson as its 2007 recipient of the Vannevar Bush Award for "a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy." Jackson holds an S.B. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and 44 honorary doctoral degrees.
The Civic Scientist lectures are a series of talks by leading scientists from around the country who have impacted public policy. The goal of the series is to expose scientists and future scientists to the notion that their roles expand outside of the laboratory. It also gives the Houston community an opportunity to hear leading scientists discuss their fields and careers, hopefully promoting science and technology as a public good worthy of federal, state and local funding.