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When Mildred Dresselhaus passed away on February 20, 2017, MIT and the national science community lost a leader, not only in terms of her remarkable personal achievements as a nanoscience pioneer, but also her considerable effort to encourage women to seek careers in science. Dresselhaus’ achievements have inspired a great many women to follow in her footsteps –including her granddaughter, Leora Cooper, who is currently pursuing her PhD in Physical Chemistry with Professor Keith Nelson at MIT.
As part of a campaign to promote women’s careers in science, GE released a video that asks the question, “What if Millie Dresselhaus, female scientist, was treated like a celebrity?” In the ad, little girls play with Dresselhaus dolls and dress up in her signature braids and sweaters, parents name their daughters after her, and Dresselhaus gives celebrity interviews. As part of this campaign, GE also invited her to walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Following Dresselhaus’ death, it was decided that Leora and her cousin, Clara Dresselhaus, would attend the Academy Awards in Millie’s place, representing both their grandmother and future generations of female scientists.