Her pioneering work in carbon science has earned her the nickname “the queen of carbon” but Mildred Dresselhaus has never been motivated by personal accolades and prizes. “I work for love. Awards they come, but they are not that important. The doing of the work is what’s important, not so much the recognition,” says Dresselhaus in this recent video interview with Physics World.
In addition to her research on materials, Dresselhaus is revered for her reputation as a educator. In 2012 she received the Enrico Fermi Award for her roles in science leadership and mentoring – an award she finds fitting because, she recalls, Fermi had a significant influence on her scientific development during her PhD, when he acted as her mentor for a while. In the second part of her interview with Physics World, Dresselhaus talks about her passion for education and how her students have been just as inspirational to her as she has been to them. “You’re not teaching for yourself, you’re teaching for them, conveying not only information but motivation,” she explains.